The real Africa is the one they never show you. The real Africa is hidden beneath a veneer of poverty and hunger and death; a cancerous mass of the face of the earth that the rest of the world term homogenous “Africa.” The real Africa is submerged underneath corruption and greed, underneath tyranny and ostentatious elite, underneath the faces of the people they cannot feed. The real Africa is buried beneath shanty towns rife with dirt and disease, where children are forced to grow up too much too quickly to survive. The real Africa is concealed under a no-man’s land of desert, bare and dry and unable to sustain green and healthy life. No, that’s not the real Africa. The Africa I know. The Africa that is reflected in the warm sunshine that you can feel burning inside you. The Africa that shines from warm spontaneous smile. The Africa that is at the heart of sky-high mountains and tropical jungle, of golden sand dunes and lush green grassland. The Africa that is at the heart of different peoples, different languages, different cultures, different identities who all call this land their home. The land where moyo muti unomera pauno; where roots take hold and don’t let go, solid as the baobab tree that has always been and will always be there, standing steady and solid against the menaces of time… The real Africa is the chaos that exist side by side as honking cars zoom past on streets that are run parallel to cows grazing peacefully in a field.
This has been my facebook profile picture for the better part of the week. It’s one of those things you see and you want to shout to anyone who will listen: THIS! THIS! This is what I mean. This is why when you say “Me? Go to Africa??!” I will shake my head. You don’t know what you are missing. The news, the AMREF donation ad on TV with that famous actress and the kids with the flies around their nose, those images do not begin to capture even a fraction of what “Africa” is about. Yes, the those images are true, but there is so much more to Africa than poverty, death or disease. (But I figure if you’ve read the post to this point, and didn’t dismiss it after the first sentence, you already knew that.) If you still doubt, since when did you believe everything TV told you?
I found this video on iankamau.com. It’s about teens in Cape Flats (in Cape Town, South Africa), who having graduated from high school celebrate with their entire community. Imagine that!
This is Africa. My Africa. A place of so much contrast you have to see it or be it, to understand it.