An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.
Having been away from home for a while, I realised that there are many changes. One of the things that stands out are the tall buildings that seem to be looming everywhere. There is therefore no need to go to Nairobi.
For those who do not know this, the father of the Nation, JK Nyerere once told the nation: ‘why waste your money going to London to see tall buildings, go to Nairobi’. What a noble thing to say. Seriously, I believe that in this statement, even though I do not believe I have quoted it verbatim, carried with it a sense of what we had within reach.
The glitter I had always seen on the movies, warmed my heart. The desire to learn the other culture, and the rush to leave my culture behind, raced my mind. Oh, how I thought that all that glitters is gold. I am not really talking about myself. May be partly.
Primitive I often thought of the associational life back in Bongo-land. The place where I was moulded into the man that I am today. A place where I learnt that to be a male human being does not necessarily mean that I do not need to go into the kitchen and prepare my own food, and that of my family. The place where I was taught from childhood that all humans are the same.
I am sure, my teachers were wrong. I blame you Pa and Ma. You did not tell me that humans can be the same, in those common physical features – even the colour of their blood but they are definitely not equal.
I see the look you are giving me. But believe me, I am not like some of you who lived to believe that the kitchen is a place for the female human kind. Her ‘tough’. No. I was not brought up in such environment where my hands were not supposed to be dirty. But I decided to pursue life in the movies. So I went to a foreign country. Far away from home.
The moment I took the technological wings, at a cost, enjoyed the ride. When I landed, I met my fellow chocolate skinned humans. I added to the number of those whose faces are still ‘spat’ on by the members of the human society with lighter skin.
I heard they are called Whites. However, I did not see any White person. What I did see were those whose skin were close to a pink hue in colour. If you waited until they came into contact with a little sun, you will agree with me: no one’s skin is white! You think I am being racist or talking in a manner that has elements of racism in it? You are wrong.
When I went to live for a little while in the advanced country far away from home, I thought the country that was to host me for a few years was race neutral. This was the worst mistake I made. I was misguided in my mind. The truth only came to me when I was called a “nigger”. The moment I was asked to go back to Afrika. That moment, I knew I was neither home nor among “fellow” human beings.
All I am is a “nigger”. And when a friend of mine, a fellow chocolate colour skinned male kind invited me for a chat over lunch, the discussion was accentuated by the words “these people do not know how hard it is to live in this country in this skin”. Momentarily, I looked at my skin. Wild thoughts ran in my head. The wildest of all suggested “I should hate my skin”.
But fortunately, I remembered the pain folks back home, male and females struggling to change their skin. The consequences scared the hell out of my simple brain. I also looked at how the so called ‘white’ persons struggle to keep cool under a little sun by putting weird smelling solutions on their skin, I then decided that I love my skin.
Coming back home, I hear most Blacks use the term “my nigger”. They think it is cool to be called so. When I hear someone refer to a fellow Black in Dar as “my nigger” I get an instant urge to strike the hardest I can.
I am not a violent person. Yet, my experience in the ‘white’ people’s land taught me that the word “nigger” was and has been used in the ‘white’ people’s environments to look down on my kind. So, I do not want to be referred to as “my nigger”. I actually loath those who refer to fellow Blacks as “my nigger” with a burning passion.
Those who have lived away from Bongo-land know what I am talking about. Most of them will not muster enough courage to talk about this. I choose not the path of docility. Reflecting on that chat over lunch and being back home, home to the land of my birth, I choose to be me. I am Black and I embrace me. I will not change this colour for anything.
It is the colour that sings the Ubuntu chorus. Its crescendos ring high in lofty tunes. When I go to any part of the beautiful Afrikan continent, I am not looked at differently. I feel home. I feel warm and welcomed. This does not suggest that there will be characters somewhere in an Afrikan country who will still resent other Afrikans.
To me Afrika is my home. Home where love and acceptance never cost me a thing. A Place where, in my experience, people in different parts only thought for once that I am just a spoilt ‘towner’ who do not want to speak our language. This changes when they get to know that indeed you cannot speak their language.
Suddenly, we all marvel when we realise that even though one of us cannot speak the contextual dialect, still we are able to speak the language of Love. The language spoken in the Ubuntu Spirit. The Spirit without which humanity cannot survive. I am because You are language!