Sitting at my desk, looking out over the beautiful North West bushveld, listening to the bird life, and remembering when I used to think “This is why I love Africa”. I think that, very often, that is a typical attitude of the privileged classes. We appreciate Africa’s landscapes, her climate, the relatively easy life we have here.
Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time dismantling my privilege, and examining my preconceptions about life in Africa, and I have begun to appreciate it on a whole new level. Africans are, without a doubt, the most determined and courageous people. Despite centuries of some of the most brutal oppression, genocidal wars and extreme droughts and plagues, the countries on this continent are starting to emerge as some of the fastest-growing economies. We are starting to fight back against Eurocentric viewpoints and show that there are different ways of doing things.
We are beginning to talk to each other in meaningful ways, ways which lead to deeper understanding and a shared commitment to a better life for all. Yes, there are Sparrow-shaped bumps in the road, but for every Sparrow there are people who stand up against her and say #NotInMyName.
The end result is that my love for Africa now goes further than simply an appreciation for her vistas and her wildlife. I’m beginning to learn the history which was not taught in school, and I’m discovering heroes like Sankara, Hani, Fanon, I’m listening to people whose voices used to be stilled (or ones I simply wasn’t attuned to hearing) and I’m learning some hard lessons.
You can’t really claim to love a place – a country, a continent – until you learn to love her people, to learn her history (the good and the bad) and you can place yourself more clearly in it.
Back to work now….