16 April 2008

Back to Africa?

Planning on going 'back to Africa'? Planning on relocating there?
I have an issue with so many black people wanting to go 'back to Africa' - you may have heard it yourself. Africa - said with a whimsical gleam and a sigh- 'Africa!'
Now I am not criticising those who are off-spring of descendants taken forcibly from parts of Africa to far off lands - we may be the visible products of those people. But I am now of the strong opinion that there isn't anything to 'go back to'. Understand my point. I am not saying Africa is full of all the negative stereotypes, those which have been force fed to the masses. What I am saying is don't go to 'Africa' (the continent, not the country - I do have to spell that out) seeking a life 'we' had many generations ago. What does that mean anyway?
Africa is like anywhere else - there is beauty, hardship, wealth, vibrancy, educated and the non-educated and it is difficult to pigeonhole anything about it.
Africa is a diverse, rich, amazing, continent with people who just want to get on with their lives.

Now, which part do you want to go back to? Do you know anyone there? Do you understand the culture? Are you going there to teach the 'natives' the errors of their ways? Are you, even worse, going there on a missionary trip to bring the Lord/Allah/Buddha or any other deity into the lives of the people of the continent? Do you view people who live in North Africa as 'not real Africans'?
Other questions to ask are: What can you actually contribute to the diverse continent? What skills and abilities do you have that are necessary for you to have a full and productive life there? How will you be really viewed by the citizens of your chosen country?
Answer these basic questions before you set out on your relocation journey. I am always encouraging people to take a chance and do something different. Forget the fears which your societies put on you to enable you to stay in jobs and lifestyles which are not fulfilling just so you can keep paying taxes and get a pension. So I am a strong advocate of trying your luck rather than remain sheep-like and then die.

I knew a black woman from the Americas whose marriage broke down after many years. She was devastated and after a long period of severe depression, tried to get to grips with the fact she was a single mother and experiencing the trauma of divorce. She decided that Africa was the way for her to be heading. Whilst visiting Ghana (after a dream told her to go to Africa) she was welcomed by the people and was crowned Queen Mother of a village. She travelled to Nigeria and became a Yoruba Priestess and learned the rituals and incantations of some of the people.
Some people I know, born in Africa, raised in Africa and still have blood ties with the continent state that those people are viewed, in some cases, as cash-cows. Africa doesn't need New Age shamans to teach their grandmothers to suck eggs. Africa doesn't need more theistic legends.
Africa, the continent, needs people who will contribute positively to the development of the individual countries. Scientists, educators, engineers, town planners, astronomers, ethical bankers and investors, recycling expertise, medical staff and so on. But guess what? They already exist right there in Africa, but are lured away, understandably, by the enticements of the 'developed' countries, draining the countries of their human resources. Under-developing the continent continues by the big guns. Destabilizing the efforts made by many people toward progress.

Designer Africans: Another sad sight are the 'designer Africans' - you know those who worship anything Egyptian and wear big chunky ankhs and wrap their heads with cloths, swathed in white clothes designed by someone in Greenwich Village or Portobello Road or the Latin Quarter. They feel part of an exclusive group; superior and visibly so.
What am I saying? You don't need to be part of a group to make a difference. You certainly don't need to show your inverted insecurities so visibly.
How do I know this? Because I have been there, experienced that faux feeling of being superior and, with hindsight, it is all very sad. Being part of the 'designer African' groups made me feel included whilst living in a society where I felt, at times, excluded. Attending meetings where everything about other 'races' was viewed with disdain - history regarding white people started and stopped with barbarism.
If you are a person who loves being part of a clique, that's fine, but just accept that that is what it is - a clique, a club exclusive. A place where those who don't accept your views or education or supposed viewpoints or worldviews are on the outside.
Just do a search on Google and see how many cliques are available where we, black people, spend money trying to identify with an Egyptian era which was corrupt, based on mythology and theism, exclusive, elitist, cruel and barbaric, sycophantic and full of superstition - amongst other things. Why are we attaching ourselves to that era?

I have a book in front of me as I write which I bought 15 years ago in a black bookshop in London. It is by a man called Ra Un Nefer Amen entitled 'A Wholistic Guide to Female Health Disorders'. The preface states the following:
‘...Throughout the book, you are advised to seek the help of professionals,
especially those involved in Homeopathic medicine.
The homeopathic use of herbs and minerals is advocated here because we have found it to be constant with the laws governing the functions of the body.
''Homeopathy'' has been defined as ''like cures like'', that is, give the substance to cure an illness that the substance itself will cause! In order to comprehend this
seeming paradox, let's look into a not too well comprehended (by doctors) law of
the body's interaction with substances (drugs, certain nutrients, etc.).’

Now, I can only applaud people who give health advice which will enable others to be the best they can and overcome some form of illness. I cannot do the same for others who peddle pseudo-science as fact. Homeopathy is fake. Homeopathy is a placebo system which appears to make a difference because a homeopathic 'expert' has spent an hour each week with the 'patient' as opposed to 8 minutes maximum with a hard-pressed GP. You need no medical qualifications in order to set yourself up as homeopathic practitioner, no vetting - just decide one day that that will be your business, gen up on the buzz words, read a few books written by other con artists, get a few empty bottles and fancy labels and start advertising. Watch the money start to roll in.
There is no other word for it but criminal. Prescribing water - which is what they do - pretending it has 'magical curative properties' and charging money for it is criminal. Conning people into believing that taking Nux Vomica , Rhus Tox or any other homeopathic remedies is plain wrong.

I understand that we, as humans, are largely ignorant of so many things, but we now have the opportunity to free ourselves of false ideologies which are designed to turn our minds from reason and rationale and fatten the pockets and the prestige of those who should know better.

These 'back to Africa' people, in this instance, are negative. They promote ideas about spirituality and how wonderfully spiritual black people are - some even say we are genetically 'higher' (whatever that means) from other 'races'. They wrap themselves in the glowing adoration of their minions and worst of all they stop people living in the here and now. Just think of how much time is spent harking back to an era that is not now - is not in this moment. How much time is spent conducting nonsense rituals, saying prayers to non-existent entities, so many rules and regulations on what you can and cannot do as a woman or a man. It is sad and unproductive. It doesn't help - only hinders and, ironically, arrests development.
I urge caution, people. I urge caution.

My 'home' is wherever I am - Africa or anywhere else.


Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
If I remember my history right, the last major "back to Africa was freed slaves that went and founded Liberia. They didn't get along well with the natives and there is still conflict between the Afican-Americans and the Africans.

The African-American population doesn't really have alot in common with the current population of Africa. It would be like me moving to Russia. Except Africa is unbearably hot, while Russia is unbearably cold.

zowoco said...

Hi zee!

Could I just say, I found you from hubspot and you have some super high quality content here so I will be looking in regularly, real food for thought! I am white and know almost nothing of your underlying theme for this blog but I always like to understand other people's viewpoint!

Your content is certainly King! Get out & about online & promote yourself because I really do think a lot of people will gain true confidence and inspiration from reading your blog!

Regarding this particular post, I say, yes, wherever you are is Africa, that is, Africa is in your heart! And the heartland is its people.

For me as an English white woman living in Wales, I echo the war poet who said "If I should die, think only this of me: That there's some corner of a foriegn field That is forever England."

And this is truly remarkable, for peoples of all races and colours and gender: that you are what you truly believe yourself in your heart to be, and nothing else! And you take and implant that belief wherever you go, the whole world over.

I have German ancestry and intend to visit Germany this summer, yet in my heart as of now, I believe myself to be English. Will I change my stance? Quite possibly. But I shall remain white!

As you remain black. But not necessarily African. Since race began, negros have travelled the world over by trade routes, always taking with them an invaluable cultural influence. You do not have to reside in Africa, or even to be African! You can be English! But whatever you consider yourself, make a valuable contribution to your present community. And that is what I too always aim to achieve.

Which is what unites mankind, black, white, yellow: one's contribution to one's community, one's making the best of one's belonging, even if one's heart is focussed elsewhere.

Fej said...

Hi Zee
My Name is Fej and have lived for long perios both in Africa and North America. I think that culture, not color has over the years conspired to mould our thought processes and interest... Africans have been moulded to think, like and appriciate different things than North Americans. While living in the US, I could never quite get over the relative sense of coldness that people have amongst each other, I suspect that a person who moves to Africa may never get over the erratic electricity and potholes. Not better, just different.

Having said that, socially Nairobi is much closer to New York than New York could ever be to some rural midwestern location. Same can be said about a Nairobian being socially more related to a New Yorker than to a maasai pastorolist.

I spent the last weekend in rural Kenya, beautifull beyond belief, and went to visit some rural folks who just happened to to be along our weekend route. We ended up staying for a day, they could not allow us to pay them.... and they gave us a goat at the end of our stay. Since I can't slaughter a goat, and its a valuable present I dont know what to do with it... If a person like this turns out in my Nairobi House and I talk to him or her outside the gate and not invite them in he/she would feel insulted because in the bank of goodwill, he or she banked and goat and excpects better treatment.

Lets just say it is very different. So different that intra-African communication is limited. You want to move to Africa start with a city... Which is really the worst of Africa: caught in a twilight zone between true and africa and true west.

Oh By the way, what do you do with a goat that has been given as a present?

Anonymous said...

What a superb example of self loathing. This choopy, disconnected rant goes from Africa to homeopathy? lol

I won't comment on the obvious - you hate yourself. But I will address homeopathy.

For over 20 years I took regular over the counter allergy medicine. It had horrible side effects that I had to bear with because my allergies were extremely severe.

I switched to a homeopathic treatment which not only works for me but works well enough that I only have to take it for half of the allergy season. I used to have to take allergy medicine from Nov-Aug of every year! My son developed allergies at 4 yrs old and takes only homeopathic treatments and they work extremely well. He went from crying uncontrollably as a small child to no problems. He only has to take the medicine for about 1.5 months and it works for the entire allergy season.

My suggestion: Discuss only what you know.

My hope: You learn to love your origins.

BTW, many of us, that aren't lazy, have found our origins in Africa and visited. It would take a good paying job to afford the trip, which requires a good education. It would take some effort and intelligence to do the research. Its not impossible at all.

Zee Harrison said...

Thank you all for responding. I have finally got round to acknowledging your comments which all indicate support for this blog - so thanks again!!


The issue of where and when to go back to is a difficult one. The clock cannot be wound back and I fell we should make the best of our current situation.

I understand your sentiments. If you must hanker after somewhere then let it occupy a small part of your life.

Your goat story made me smile. What do you do? You go on to the next village and hand it over to a family there. What would you do with a goat? You could organise a festival or gathering and arrange for the goat to be eaten and a good time is had by all. I'm interested to know what you did - even if it is a while ago!

I have only one question: are you a believer in the supernatural? I don't want to make assumptions, hence my question.
You have obviously been the victim of the placebo effect and hey presto it has worked. I do write about what I know having had homeopathy treatment myself for several months. A total con. Believed by many. People who are had by the 'medical advice' given by these charlatans. You bought no active ingredients - sorry to have to tell you. Question anyone who is a homeopathic practitioner - question them as a skeptic and evaluate their response.
A prime example as to why black people are in the double mess we are in currently.
If loving my origins means disconnecting myself from other human beings purely based on such minor superficial differences as culture and skin colour - race, then I want no part of it. I wonder what lessons you are teaching your son who you love so much? What kind of environment is he being raised in.
Don't let someone else set your life agenda - set your own and please don't let it be based on our 'ancestors'.
What does 'found our origins in Africa' mean? Absolutely meaningless waffle. All homo sapiens came out of Africa. Fact.

I think you are just the kind of person the African continent does not need hence your tetchiness about my post.

Think about it.

Thank you all again and drop by very soon!

Kind regards,


Anonymous said...

1. I offered my son, who with no prompting and real/diagnosed allergies enjoys complete relief. The kind of allergies in our family are extremely severe. No placebo effect could be achieved. Its simply to painful and overwhelming to ignore - certainly not in a small child.

2. I know several physicians with reputable practices, one who has consistently recieved mainstream accolades for their work that also treat with homeopathic medicine. I think you may want to study (not glance or rush through) some serious text books on Ayurvedic medicine.

3. Nothing in my response indicated that you needed to cut yourself off from humanity. You're trying to hard to defend your position. My comment inferred that large number of well educated, hard working, no-where-near leftist or idealist minded African-Americans understand that everyone must find and examine their legacy. It is paramount to psychological health. I mean to seperate "us" from Black people that seem to have lots of excuses and side steps for not understanding and embracing who and what they are, THUS contributing more fully to society. I am saying its your duty to humanity to know who you are.

4. I didn't tell you exactly where my roots are because...well, its a mute point. lol I found my origins. Down to the exact community in Africa on my father's side. If we were standing in person having this discussion it might be worth sharing greater detail, but online it would be wasted dialogue. I know others that have done the same. Its not hard. But you have to actually apply yourself. Now if you're lazy...that's another story.

5. What kind of person am I? and who are you to presume what Africa needs?

6. A bunch of supportive comments from white readers (poll them) on African identity doesn't constitute the truth. You simply said what their egos needed to hear.

The pale observer said...

Great blog, very interesting post. I found you through Wayne of The Year of No Money in Tokyo.

I'm a Canadian living and working in Ghana for the past 12 years. I came with ridiculous naive dreams and ended up staying for a good job. period. I see what you are writing about every day.

There is also a phenomenon of foreign volunteers who swarm Ghana every summer - check out my post about if if you have time:

I've added you to my blogroll - see if you think mine is interesting enough to add to yours...

Will be checking in on you often!


Cori said...

I appreciated what Anonymous said in this last comment here, both about homeopathy and about the need for some people to explore their roots in order to experience wholeness (not his/her words-sorry!).

In South Africa, homeopaths have to be registered with the Medical Council of South Africa, which requires they are degreed and tey are also able to be linked to the medical aid system which also has quite high requirements, which perhaps helps me trust more in the whole medical field of homeopathy as something beyond placebo?

But back to the whole 'we are African' thing, as a South African I concede that its VERY irritating when Americans or Europeans who originated from Africa many generations ago speak of Africa as theirs when they have never even been here. At the same time, as someone of European decent, in a country where all white people have European decent somewhere along the line, I know how much it can mean for identity to connect with those European roots, even though connecting with that doesn't make me any less South African. Does that make sense?

Falaq said...

Yeah, this was a pretty short sighted post. But most importantly I always find "black bashings" black people amusing. The real reason why this post is ignorant, is because 1. you assume all black people who want to return to Africa are ignorant of their origins and ties to the continent and 2. you completely ignore the cultural, social and psychological dynamics that pull some of us back to the continent.

Why is it the only people who are analyzed and challenged about their African connections or African-ness are black people who live in the US whose ancestors were victims of slavery? NO OTHER PLACE do you find this attack upon a group of people trying to get back what they were robbed of. Black Cubans consider themselves African even if they call themselves Cuban and are extremely nationalistic. Black Brazilians are the same. Most blacks in the caribbean as well. They are all correct in doing so but the only folks who get analyzed for making such a claim are black folks from the US. To me this analysis and denial of a black person's connection to Africa is just another side-effect of slavery. It's just yet another way to continue hurting a group of people.

At the same time, white people can call themselves African (They never will be) and no one says anything about it. For them it is another attempt to steal a continent and an identity. Imagine how much history they can claim if they convince people they are the true Africans? The only way to do that is to steal the continent and the African identity. But before you allow yourself to call white people African just because they live there think about this... you have never heard in your damn life and never will hear a white people call themselves Chinese no matter how many generations they bring up in China. Think about that shit and you will see why white people calling themselves African is an attempt to steal what they don't own.... again.

Day said...

Wow! I found this post to be interesting, heartfelt and honest. I have searched your blog and find a lot of commonalities of thought. I still have a lot more to go. You have a very interesting voice! Keep up the good work!

Vashti said...

There are plenty of reasons to go back.

People who celebrate Ancient Egyptian culture are not insecure.

Many people in African nations live better lives than African Americans in the ghettos and inner cities.

Americans watch too much CNN and arae brainwashed. There are negative and positive things in all nations.

I did not like what you stated: there isn't anything to 'go back to'

Have you been to over 50 countries

The same 5 countries in Africa are portrayed over and over again in the media: Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana or where ever Caucasian celebrities go to buy orphans or conceive or give birth to children: Malawi, Namibia, Ethiopia

Many people in Africa live in urban areas and mimic the hip hop culture of Americans


WOW!!!.... i read some of your blogs and thought to myself 'maybe you just have different views to most black people.' But after reading this I think you have some serious issues..... 1. You probably hate yourself for beong black and therefore do not embrace your origins. 2. You really feel like you want to please white people so you write all the almost racist blogs. 3. YOU"RE BLACK WHY PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING ELSE???!!!!!