I’ve been on many fashion blogs recently and seen an array of African inspired clothing. I’ve gone into the music library on my phone and pressed play and listened to American and British artist’s belt out African inspired ballads and thus one thing has become profoundly clear to me… If you don’t have a solid sense of identity, people will give you one and run with it.
Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of the African print you see online is truly African print that is worn traditionally by some African countries, and some African inspired music is somewhat authentic to the theme. But, that’s the thing, only some. It is impossible to completely encapsulate a continent with 54 countries in one song or in a headscarf. The countries out of Africa seem to think that they have defined what being an African is, that by wearing Nigerian inspired clothing and trying to sound African on a song is reason enough to define Africaness. Which obviously isn’t true.
I read a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called Half of a Yellow Sun in which she makes a strong point about who should be writing the stories about Africa. That someone’s identity should be defined by them first before people hop on to whatever definition suits them. There is an African proverb that says, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter” but first, before we Africans write the story, I have to pose the questions, “Do we know who we are, and can that be defined simply?”
I think that answering that question is the greatest hindrance to our progress as Africans, because after being colonised and then being independent, the remnants of who we are has been tangled in pre- colonised African and Independent African. My point is that Spanish people aren’t just tequila and salsa the same way all Africans aren’t an African rhythm and headscarf. Also, it’s very important that we as human beings think about how we define ourselves and if that is what we project
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