What would the Ebola outbreak be without leaving an epidemic worse than itself?
As always happens with crises on the African continent, they are the platforms through which ignorance by the western world, of things Africa and its people, are magnified/manifested/exposed.
The Ebola outbreak is a crisis in 3 countries of the 54 that make the continent but in the western world that means ALL OF AFRICA is affected.
Since the outbreak, Africans living in the developed world are at their wits end having to correct this gross ignorance and misinformation of Africa in the western world and which has refused to GO AWAY.
As Africans, we now have to take our Geography to the streets to correct and educate western world nationals-for the few that care to learn-about the vast size of Africa; the most nagging correction being, that Africa is not a destination.
So yes we labour to explain to those sympathising with any African national they know or encounter in the developed world that Ebola has broken out on the African continent but affected just 3 countries.
Argh! 54-3 does not equal to 1, 54…..
Plus, we have to place nations in Africa in context for these lazy developed world nationals by reminding them that Africa’s regions are FAR FLUNG.
West Africa is no-where near East Africa, South Africa, North! This, to people that have a map reading culture!
In my instance I have to continue spoon feeding those that tell me British and American media are reporting the outbreak as affecting Africa and West Africa sometimes.
I correct them by pointing out that West Africa is made up of 17 countries and minus 3 (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) makes 14 West African nations EBOLA FREE.
Nigeria and Mali which respectively had 1 affected patient have since been declared EBOLA FREE bringing down the number of Ebola affected countries to 3; currently.
At times such as this, I want to be able to speak in slow motion mode and wish that will soon be possible! Elaborating facts so simply and sluggish so they can sink into some people’s brains.
Of course by now you can tell that this level of ignorance sometimes makes me want to pull out the hairs of my head; in frustration.
Well it is because I cannot comprehend how such gross ignorance of Africa and its people can exist in the western world; which is at the forefront of the knowledge era; that has enabled us access vast knowledge; at the click of a mouse!
The western world’s monolithic view of Africa and its people dates back to colonial times.
What Africa was and its people are was reinvented by colonialists who slapped on us a homogenous identity and started a narrative that projects/speaks about/portrays Africa as an entity/destination/place to its nationals.
Western world media have taken over continuing this ‘legacy’ and constantly portray a narrative that UNDERCLARES AFRICA to western world audiences.
The Ebola outbreak has just resurrected this endemic ignorance as have previous crises on the continent.
Long after Ebola has been tackled head on, Africans; particularly those resident in the western world; will continue living with the worse off epidemic that will remain.
From observation, there is a real and invented version of Africa that has prevailed since colonial times.
THE INVENTED VERSION (BY THE WESTERN WORLD) PROJECTS AFRICA AS …
- A specific destination. This Africa can be traversed to in a single journey. You can leave the United States for a trip to Africa and return to thunderous applause from Americans and Europeans for having travelled to Africa. I visited African country=54 covered! Yeah….
- A destination where all Africans live in this invented place called Africa filled with Africans that speak the same language. The language is called African or something concocted out of the names of African nations e.g South African, Nigerian(ese), Ugandan(ese)……?
- A small destination that any European or American can engage in an-act-of saving and solve all the plethora of problems that beset it and its people. There is no end to the ‘Saving Africa’ campaigns we hear that have originated in the western world. Go save Africa….yeah….
- A crisis prone destination where a break up in one African country is assumed to affect the entire continent. So if you are a western world national and hear on the news about a crisis in Congo, it is okay to empathise with the African you know that told you they come from Uganda. See, to western world nationals, you can walk from one African place to another as AFRICA IS THIS PLACE THAT IS perhaps THE SIZE OF AN AMERICAN STATE OR LONDON BOROUGH.
- All Africans in Africa are poor, live in tin houses and will have no knowledge of modern life. When they arrive in the United States or the United Kingdom, it is okay to wonder how they are able to use a phone, type on a laptop, be familiar with cars, be able to read and whatever else that is associated with a civilised lifestyle; in the developed world.
- If they have come to stay in the developed world, they must have arrived by boat. They must be empathised with for the difficult adjustment to a life in the developed world in sharp contrast to the backward life they left behind in Africa. Of course, they must consider it a priviledge to have arrived in a developed world and will never long to return to where they came from.
- It should be shocking that they speak English. See, back there in Africa, they speak African and there is no education. So yeah, always express surprise that they can speak English. Forget the history of colonialism on their country.
- If they have told you they are from Kenya, ask them about a friend you know in South Africa. See in Africa, they all know each other….and the place is small enough for them to be able to cover it in a single walk or marathon (see all Africans can race…?).
THE REAL AFRICA IS INSTEAD…..
- A vast continent of 54 countries. Each country is a sovereign nation.
- The continent is divided into six Geographical regions: North Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, West Africa and North East Africa.
- Africa is a vast continent with a landmass in which the United States can fit three times and the United Kingdom 120 times….. Unless, you are superhuman, YOU CANNOT COVER THE REGION IN A SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE TRIP. Well, not if you are not dreaming….
- Over 3000 languages are spoken on the continent making it the world’s hub of most spoken languages of the world. Most African nations speak on average more than 30 languages which are very different from each other. If the languages are from the same language tree, then the tribes from that root language will share certain words otherwise languages from different language roots share nothing in common.
- African culture is so diverse and rich that each culture is different. Different languages, different foods, different grooming, different behaviour etc. In summary, hardly any homogeneity.
TO BE CONTINUED