A few months ago whilst transiting in a European airport, I was interrupted from my internal monologue by an elderly gentleman who wanted to talk. Usually I hate travelling to Europe because being a black man with an African passport sometimes presents certain challenges. That particular day I’d been searched three times (two more times than other passengers), I was picked out more times than could be explained by chance for an extra ‘peek’ at my passport and I have a feeling I would have been asked to shave or been the recipient of a “cavity check” had the airport security thought they could get away with it. Anyway I digress. While I was cursing the airport security with all the bad words I knew in different languages (how come we always learn the dirty words first) this guy came up to me and asked if I was also African.I was a bit surprised but I said yes and he promptly sat down and what followed was probably one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had this year. We talked about independence from colonialism for many African countries and the civil wars that some countries experienced afterwards. This guy was a wealth of knowledge and at his prime was involved in the many pan African groups at the time that a lot of these battles were being fought. At one point however, he told me that he came over to talk to me because he felt I was African however I was not his first choice. That singular honor belonged to two young ladies who had given him the evil eye when he attempted to approach them. Which brings me to an interesting observation: a lot of Africans I have met seem extremely reluctant to be friendly with each other whenever they meet outside of Africa especially in very unfamiliar territory. Sometimes it’s almost like the feeling you get from that rich cousin who ignores you in public because he doesn’t want thinking he associates with people like you. It almost seems like we just don’t love ourselves or we are ashamed of ourselves. I’m not sure if we were always that way or it’s one of the after effects of being colonized in the not-too-distant past. Imagine my surprise to find some of my thoughts (along with some very strong views from the author) echoed recently in the Namibian Sun. It felt like one of those thoughts that percolate for awhile but you never want to think strongly on it or admit to it because it feels like until you acknowledge the thought it cannot possibly be real. Of course this is denial at its peak: the truth (whatever it is) is real whether or not we admit to its existence. It’s also interesting and sad how a lot of problems cut across many sub-Saharan countries. In the end we are truly more alike than we are different.
A Reflection of What We See In Our Selves