Ages ago I wrote a poem for Africans who think that problems outside Africa do not concern them. Because our African problems are greater. I keep on seeing people unconcerned about racism in the West, because of problems in their small patch of the Global South. (All these false cardinal points sef!) This is like someone complaining of a leaking house, but not being concerned about the rain. Then there are those in the Global North who talk of the African problem as something external, something over there, far away in ‘darkest Africa’. This is like standing among people throwing stones into a pond and wondering why there are ripples in the water and why the pond does not get rid of those ripples.
To be clear, there are no African problems. Never have been. Never will be. However, there are global problems that manifest themselves in different ways in different places. Take the environment for example. People fleeing desertification in the Sahara across the Mediterranean become part of the so-called ‘Migrant Crisis’. When they flee southward, they may become the ‘Population problem’ or as Macron calls it, the ‘civilizational problem’. Yet the greatest contributors to climate change are in the West.
So you see, negative views of Africa and negative views of blackness operate in tandem. One feeds the other, like a pair of conjoined, parasitic, bloodthirsty serpents. If you see blackness as negative, then Africa as the home of blackness is negative. If you see Africa as negative, then what it births, blackness, would also be viewed as negative. Afropessimism and racism are clones, the repetition of dehumanisation. The excuse to ignore our complicity.
The way we frame the ‘Africa problem’ gives us licence to ignore it. Gives us licence to ignore people. Let us stop thinking of Africa as a problem. Africa is its people. People are not problems.