The Lectern: Africa is a continent, not a country

For us in Nigeria, this past month of May was very eventful – mosquitoes; fuel scarcity of such potency that saw prices triple, shops and services shut down; scant electricity; then NO electricity for days on end; more mosquitoes; and but all turned over by the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Riding with the optimism that we cannot help but feel in this new dispensation, Thia takes to ‘The Lectern’ with a message of identity, of pride and ultimately, of hope. She admits that this is no new subject for discourse, but she also insists that we must not tire of preaching it until we first, then the entire world, learns it.

And so, we welcome the month of June.

The Lectern01

…that we might be read


AFRICA IS A CONTINENT, NOT A COUNTRY

Africa is a continent

This topic is not a peculiar one.

The first time I heard of it was on a TEDTalks video of the Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled “The Danger of a Single Story” where she jokingly recounted how a Virgin flight she was on mentioned their charity works “in India, Africa and other countries.”

The second time I heard of it was also on a TEDTalks video of another Nigerian, Cobhams Asuquo titled “The Gift of Blindness.”  He also mentioned again rather jokingly that an announcement on a flight he was on mentioned the charitable works the British airways was doing in the UK, Africa and other countries.

Until recently I saw this as inconsequential or rather just unnecessary. I am a fan of great music and one of the songs that I doubt will ever leave my playlist is “We are the World”, both the original and the remix for Haiti. I am sure I have listened to both of them over a hundred times.  Weirdly until recently I never really listened to the lyrics; I merely enjoyed the melody and the rare freshness of many celebrities coming together in one song.

So today I listened. Towards the end of this very awesome song I discovered something I am sure I will never forget:

“…remember Katrina, Africa, Indonesia

and now Haiti needs us…”

It shocked me. Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States of America. The earthquake in Haiti was another really horrible natural disaster. And at about that time in Indonesia, multiple earthquakes and a tsunami at the Mentawai Islands including volcanic eruptions at Mount MerapiI had shaken the Asian country. Seeing as it was a string of natural disasters that hit the above mentioned countries, I began to wonder what natural disaster has hit the whole of Africa.

In all my instances above, Africa was put on a list of countries. In the last one in particular, it was put on a list of geographical areas smaller than many countries. The whole of Africa is not sick. Africa is a continent not a country thus it deserves recognition as such. People make it seem like Africa is a country with South Africa as its capital because in pictures of Africa in most books and magazines, the Safari of South Africa is what is captured as Africa.

Komla Dumor in another TEDx talk stated rather brilliantly that we tell both sides of the story. Yes! Africa is rich naturally. Yes! Africa is still developing. No! We are a continent, a conglomeration of various countries spread across a wide geographical location with various value systems, cultures and languages interwoven rather very beautifully. The moment we start to appreciate this I think it will put things in greater perspective for those doing “charitable works in India, Africa and other countries.” Maybe then Nigeria as a country will become a beneficiary of their benevolence as well as Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Somalia and other AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

This seems confusing at this point and I am asking myself what the whole point of writing this is. Maybe my point is just that this message be passed along so that it is not said anywhere that xenophobia occurs in Africa. Nigeria is not xenophobic and I am sure Benin republic isn’t also, neither are many other African countries.

Africa is way too big to be disrespected so often. Even smaller continents get more respect.

Africa is a continent not a country

Proudly African! Proudly Nigerian! Proudly Igbo!

P.S: This is my identity not just a chant. I should be identifiable by my specific origin not just a random over-generalization. I feel we all should.

by Thia Mbajunwa

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Cynthia Adaugo Mbajunwa is a Christian Igbo Nigerian African female. She loves, as wholly as possible, and looks to make a difference no matter how little. She is sarcastic and shy, a bold feminist currently studying to become a lawyer.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and enemies; also take a minute to tell us in the Comments what you’re thinking about this one. If you have written something which you would like our readers to enjoy from ‘The Lectern’, attach and send it in a mail titled ‘The Lectern’ to ojukwumartin@gmail.com. If you are unsure about a subject matter, still reach out and we can work up something appropriate for you. It does not have to be right or left, right or wrong…only your opinion.

Chisom

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14 thoughts on “The Lectern: Africa is a continent, not a country

  1. Truly, an eye opener!
    Good, important and pertinent point and issue dat needs not be neglected.
    U shall be called an advocate of Africa, and U shall be great to defend her course.

  2. You are quite right, but I feel it will remain so not until a handfull of African countries break free from being overtly dependent on these foreign aids,charity works and the likes. Do the maths,if about 90% of African countries are dependent on their aids and charity works,it is seemingly easier to group us all as one, as it appears we all have the same thing in common; in need of their help.

  3. Point perfectly made! No one could have said it any better! You took the words right out of my mouth!! Indeed it’s with the little things we realize the deep seated level of ignorance in the world. #BGI 😄 ever proud! 🙌🙌🙌

  4. @Chisom, @Bede, I’ve typed a lengthy reply twice today to your question and clicked ‘post’ but it has not been posted, so right now I’m a bit worried that all three may appear together. however I’ll make my stance known with a mini scenario. The fact that in the fictional family of ‘MBA’, five children out of seven, Ada,Obi,Eze,Nma,Tobe are professional beggars doesn’t make the MBA family beggars. It shouldn’t also remove the respect that the society has for Okoro, the first son who is a multi millionaire or Nnedi, the last sister that is a Reverend sister. If the society gives ‘charity’ to this five siblings, does it also mean they give to Okoro and Nnedi? Maybe this is my point, that everyone bear his own name not his father’s name. Whether in wrongdoing or even when doing right. It’ll really make things better if whenever Nigerians travel, they aren’t looked down upon as specimens who have known no civilization. Yes, I’m proudly African but I’ll also like to be known by my name when being introduced, “ooh, that’s Thia Adaugo Mbajunwa” not “ooh that’s an African in my class” and if they are feeling very good, they might just add “and she’s Nigerian hope she won’t cheat us after all she is from the east”. that’s why first names come first, for specific identification. Charitable works extend to Asia but this anomaly has not been raised as often as it has been in the case of Africa. Let’s not make excuses for them. Thank you all for your comments once more.@casiyke, I’m one already.. in my own little way.

  5. Thia is studying law right? She will make a great lawyer. Nice piece, and great analogy in the comment section. Thanks for sharing.. .. Martimor, thumbs up bro

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