For Your Daily Dose of MbA

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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Monday, 9 April 2012

My Recent Bout Of That Icky Nervous Condition...

I have been spending most of my time posting my thoughts as they come on Facebook: a manifestation of a relapse of my nervous condition, which I first became aware of in the USA when studying for my first degree.  I travelled far into the depths of despair and unwittingly allowed the media to suck me into the black hole of hopelessness and anger but have managed to navigate my way back to the light, and I am now finding peace and perspective on the stories that I have been following about the world and in particular about Africa and Black people.

This post is mainly for any of my friends who may have been confused, offended or felt ostracised by any of my statements. While I stand by everything I've said, they were not meant for to be taken personally from individual to individual and I apologise for any confusion caused.  People are not always a mirror image of their countries or of organisations and countries through the governments and organisations do not necessarily reflect the sentiments of individuals and citizens.  In the same why I believe faith and state should be separate, I believe in assessing each person I meet on their individual merits and not their country's or any organisation claiming to work in their name.  So I am not upset with my friends I am lucky to have all from around the world whom I treasure very much.  I am upset with a group of people who either are ignorant to the nuances of the world or who just don't want to see the world for what it is, that I have not had much if any contact with and that quite frankly scare me, as they seem to be able to wield a tremendous power to organise and lead people in frightening ways thanks to the power of the media and in particular the Internet!

I first came across this video thanks to MR. GIRAFFE who had sent this to me last year, and my OLDER SISTER reminded me of it a coupla weeks ago.  I commented that this video seemed to be hunting me down and retrospect it needed to.  I watched it last week to remind me:

"not to get sucked into whatever angle the media have decided to take on any story. Right now the BBC, CNN and Sky are reporting on any racist behaviour in the Western world making it seem like everyone is out for Black blood mainly due to the killing of Trayvon Martin and continued instances of prejudice against Black football players in Europe. I have posted about the Hunger games and was shocked at the abuse thrown at at Black youth being arrested in England who had the sense to record the incident on the phone. However, I have to remember that luckily, the people I know all around the world are open, loving, intelligent and committed to exposing and telling multiple stories about the world and its people. And there are many other people whom I don't know who are too, or at the very least are willing to learn and grow and shed prejudices they may harbour."

If you haven't, I'd urge you to look at my posts on Facebook over the last month as though schizophrenic, they show the roller-coaster of hope and pride as well as the despair that I have felt and how I have tried to balance out positive and negative stories.  I am not saying there aren't serious problems and that we of the world are not the source of it: what I am worried about is that the negativity is winning, and in particular that African and Black stories are being limited to tragic and/ or disheartening ones, rendering us helpless and in need of rescue by the West.  I am afraid that age-old stereotypes about we of the "dark continent". 

Today I happened to tune in just before Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, appeared on Fareed Zakaria's GPS on CNN.  She more eloquently and succinctly  made the point I have been trying to drive home in bursts on Facebook about the issues I have mentioned above, and other stories I have posted about in the last month.  It's not that I don't want the Western World to help: everyone has something to offer and when they can help they should.  It's the manner in which they do it that is important.  She was talking about Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, practices (which Zakaria really needed to clarify only occurs in certain parts of Africa, not across the whole continent) in Liberia and how her father saved her from it, (:) women's rights need to be championed by both men and women), and also how the world, particularly the West should approach lending their support and affecting change, which I feel can be generalised to how the West interacts with the continent:

She said that when the West helps, they should be supportive, waiting to hear what is needed before charging in and electing what should be done.  She said that problems with a distinct cultural underpinning are best understood by the people on the ground experiencing them, and they should be the trailblazers in finding the tools to weed out and extinguish the problem from the inside out, not vice versa.  She went on to say that outside-led interventions do not work because the people from the community who are used to carry them out are considered puppets of the West, which causes people to reject the necessary change.  Instead the West should seek out people who like herself, have taken it upon themselves to be vocal and active in changing  things and finding solutions to problems,  allow them to lead the interventions and ask them what they need to continue to do so, and then assist them when called upon to do so.

She also said about living through the war in Liberia that she realised after a couple of years that no "Superman or Nelson Mandela" was going to come and save her - she had to save herself if things were to change.  She said others in Liberia realised this too and that is  how they all banded together to bring an end to the war, and in particular for her, start the conversation about women's rights and putting in place the infrastructure to stem the tide of abuse and to find solutions to problems such as FGM.

This is the model I think that the continent and Black people need to continue to put into practice :).


  1. Being able to reflect on yourself and your actions is what matters the most in life, I think. Getting drowned in the negativity and media lies etc is something that feels familiar. Keep shining and struggling upwards, you are not alone.

  2. It is comforting to know that there are people struggling with me and better yet, people out there willing to point out positivity to remind me of the good in the world :)

  3. I feel you completely. I find that I am often in a state of frustration and sometimes anger because of the media and it's portrayal of Africa. I have an unhealthy obsession with reading the comments sections of newspapers and the often ignorant views expressed in even the most high brow of publications exasperates me. I've decided to focus on the positive stories that we share amongst ourselves and realise that a lot of peoples views are just ignorance, plain and simple. What matters most in my opinion is that Africans are not disheartened or believe all the negativity. We are after all trying to build better lives for ourselves not, as it often seems, proving ourselves to the world.

  4. I avoid comments as much as possible, they just make me sad. I would highly recommend detoxing from that ASAP mate. What I do believe in is countering the ignorance by putting out balanced stories about the continent to show that just like everywhere else in the world, there is good and bad and that like everyone else we are trying to figure out our way in the world...