Recently, I came across a word that I must admit I did not take much interest in. The word is “afrophobia”. Loosely put, it is supposed to mean the fear or disdain for anything of African origin. Now, I understand that this is a word that is used to describe how non-Africans look down on anything African. However, if the truth be told, we blacks are more responsible for afrophobia than anyone else.
Interestingly, I was listening to a BBC news programme about a very disturbing practice that still takes place in Africa. Apparently, many mothers have a well-established way of making their daughters unattractive when they reach puberty – they beat the breasts of their young daughters to a pulp – literally. One can only imagine the pain that many of Africa’s young females have to go through on account of this strange cultural practice.
Female genital mutilation is also still widespread on the continent. Apparently, African women should not have any pleasure in performing the only duty that they were put here on this earth for – to have children. Needless to say, despite many attempts to stamp out this barbaric practice, unfortunately, many African women continue to die as a result it.
For as long as I can remember, Africa has been synonymous with civil strife of incredible magnitude. Who can forget the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people? The “Democratic” Republic of Congo has been going through a civil war that has claimed the lives of millions. The Central African Republic has not had peace now for a long time. Of course, how can one forget the Sudan and the many thousands killed there, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Mugabe’s ruined Zimbabwe, the ungovernable Somalia and many others?
And it is not just war. Even in “peaceful” countries, there are grave problems. Corruption is virtually second nature to Africa, it seems. Nigeria is forever classed as the centre of corruption for Africa; recently one of its central bank governors was suspended for defrauding the bank. I saw a documentary that showed how it was hard doing business with the government of Uganda as many civil servants turn up for work and leave within the hour!
You know, one of the reasons why people have such a deep fear of Africa is not what non-Africans have said about the continent. Not at all. It is what the Africans themselves have been doing to hold back their respective countries. It is no wonder that many thousands of them roast themselves crossing the Sahara desert and drown themselves in the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe at the present time.
Let’s not fool ourselves, colonialism had nothing to do with Africa being in the state that she is today. The fate of Africa has and will always be in the hands of the Africans themselves. As for me, living in the West, I can safely say that I will always be grateful for those slave ships that brought my ancestors out of that place many years ago!