Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Dilemma

I'm currently enrolled in an African Politics class and I have been looking forward to it since last March when I found out about it and got in. My problem is, I have been to a country in Africa: Kenya (in case you didn't know). And since going, I have had an adverse reaction to people clumping together Africa as a whole.

In Kenya, we had a dinner with a group of Kenyan bloggers and other intellectuals (I hate that term too) during which I was lambasted for saying "Africa" rather than "Kenya". And they had a point.

Africa is a very diverse continent with 53 counties (possibility of more soon) recognized by the U.N. It has hundreds, if not thousands of tribes and languages being spoken as well. And yet we clump it together.

Kenya alone has a rich history of political, economic, tribal, and socio-political issues that sets it apart from its neighbors. Beyond this, people from each country have their own customs and usually get offended by being clumped together.

So, you might be wondering why I am writing this; is it just for catharsis? No. It is because I want people to know, and I want people to understand why people do this (especially Westerners).

Africa is scary! When most people think of Africa they think of either a giant wilderness or of the scary African natives. Why?

In general, we have a history of doing this: "Heart of Darkness", "The Lion King", "Out of Africa", the AIDS crisis, National Geographic, Drought Relief Services Reports. Pretty much whatever we look at, we find objectification on Africa.

Why is it that we can show women from Africa's breasts but if they are from anywhere else it is considered uncouth? They are the crazy foreigners, its just what they do.

Why is it we can show the genitals of Africans in movies but not of other people? They are the crazy foreigners, its just what they do.

Why is it we can show Africans dying in documentaries without any hesitation, but other countries its hard to be able to do so? They are the crazy foreigners, its just what they do. They can't help but die without the White man's help.

The list goes on....

Maybe this is just a silly pet peeve of mine, or maybe my eyes have been opened...I don't know....

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