"Here's a beautifully written post by writer Moshood, you can find his work on http://yoyotinz.tumblr.com. This one is especially for you, dear reader, all the way from West Africa!"
I can't recall exactly what time of day it was, but someday in the month of December in 2012, I tweeted out these words from Wale's poem 'Ambitious Girl:'
"I like the person that you are, but i'm in love with the person you have potential to be."
Out of somewhere in South Africa came a reply to the tweet :
"That's dangerous..... What if that person never becomes what their potential is? What if you're more in love with ambition than the person? Either way, i think it's better to love the person as they are. If and when they grow, you'll get to your love evolving with them."
In truth, my initial thoughts on that response lingered along the lines of "ahn ahn, why so serious? It's just lyrics, abeg!"
But then, as i told the tweeter i would, i let her words marinate and i came out believing them to be wiser, much more profound and sensible than Wale's.
(Thank you, Tolani for that perspective gained.)
The elders made a proverb on the danger and absurdity of being deliberately blind or dishonest to oneself or about one's situations. "If your mother is dead and you say she's only sleeping, they said, it's your own funeral." Having the wisdom that is embedded in this saying etched on my mind, i employ it to serve me whenever the need arises. Like in my relationship with this continent, I apply it. What does this mean?
That loving this continent, to me, does not mean falsely glorifying it or being intentionally naive to it's shortcomings and many challenges: like investing time and energy trying to prove to some people that over here too, we have KFC outlets, skyscrapers, luxury apartments etc. - when it's only an insignificant fraction of our people that can afford these things. When most of these things are someone else's yardstick for measuring development, anyway.
To me, loving this continent is that urge that makes me ache to see it made a place healed and whole, a viable home for all it's people, again. It is that which makes me refuse -regardless of how far removed it is from our current reality- to regard any African as a foreigner, anywhere on African soil. (And by the way, which of our ancestors drew these oh so sacred frontiers that divide and inhibit us today?)
I wholeheartedly embrace the ideals of pan-Africanism-and that too, of course, is out of this love- for how else could black people all over the world unite as a people, pool their resources-human, natural, intellectual, and what have you,- cooperate for the thorough progress of the continent, and also for the ultimate rehabilitation of its peoples. This love for Africa; it is this thing that makes me want to learn and know more about this continent. It is this yearn that i have for us, collectively, to realise that contrary to some colonial propaganda, we are beautiful, we are worthy, that we too matter. And that we can also fly and soar. Thus, this aspiration that i have; to contribute to making this place a space healed of it's anti-blackness so our young ones and those yet unborn grow up knowing that there's nothing at all wrong with their blackness, nothing wrong with being born African. Nothing, at all. It is that love which makes me prefer to be identified, above all identities, as African.
African. So it is our forebears that created all the magic of Ancient Egypt. It is us who are the origin. Us, people of spirit- essence of life. Us, Ubuntu people-to whom the individual is nothing without the collective. Us, glorious. Resilient. Magical. Flawed. Imperfect. Us, humane. Us, above all, human. Us, inhabitants, owners of this land: Africa.
Africa. Where magic is an everyday thing. A land of wealth. A land pillaged, exploited. A land betrayed: by sellouts. Askaris. Anti-people governments. Neo-colonial puppets. A land of beautiful, immense diversity. Ah, Africa.
So, i love this continent, straightforwardly. And in exercising this professed love, i embrace this land -but refuse to be comfortable with it- as it is, currently. Meanwhile, i aspire to contribute my bit to making it the much much much better place i think it can -and needs to- be. That way, I’ll have my love evolving together with it. Imagine the possibilities. Just imagine!