Most people who know me, know that I am a very proud Congolese and African woman. I take great pride in my native land, culture, and background. Though, I have to say, I didn’t always appreciate who I am and where I come from. In fact, it wasn’t until I moved to the United States when I begun to embrace my origin and cultural heritage. I was 11 years old then. Since I moved to the U.S, I've met many people and made many friends. When I meet people for the first time, the first thing most of them ask me after noticing my accent is where I am originally from. I say I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and then I would see a blank look on their faces like they have no idea where DRC is. So I say Africa, I am from Africa, and then they would say “oooh OK”. The next question that usually follows is if I lived in huts with lions (or some wild animal) while I was in the Congo. I've even been asked if I had seen a car or tall building before coming to the U.S or if I had food to eat while living in Africa. As ridiculous as these questions are, some people do actually ask them, believe it or not.
I used to ask myself, how ignorant, uneducated, and uninformed can someone be to even ask such questions? Then I realized those questions reflect what people learn from the media. The West’s media representation of Africa usually involves naked, malnourished, and sick children living on the streets; adults who are suffering from HIV/AIDs, TB, and Cholera; contaminated foods and water; beggars on the streets; animals, forests, and jungles. This is how most Westerners I’ve met who have never traveled outside the boundaries of their countries think of Africa. Though all of the above is true about some parts of Africa, it does not define Africa. Africa is much more than just hunger and poverty. It is much more than naked hungry children and sick adults. Africa is love, peace, and joy. Africa is the past, the present, and the future. Africa has some of richest countries in the world with abundance of natural resources. Because of its riches, it has been exploited, degraded, neglected, and savagely suppressed for centuries and its recovery from this has been nearly impossible to achieve. That is not to say that Africa is as dark as some people think it is, because even with all the misfortunes that have happened, Africa and its people are always on top of the world. They never stop moving forward. Their determination, achievements, and strive for independence and development are something that the media in the West fails to show to people.
During the past years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time teaching my friends, and some strangers, about the beauty of the MOTHERLAND. Through teaching them, I’ve also learned to appreciate her. I’ve learned to appreciate my land and my culture and traditions. I’ve learned to appreciate who I am and where I come from.
I was watching TV a few days ago and saw something that put a smile on my face and made me even more proud to be an African. It is the latest Coca Cola TV ad for Africa. It inspired me to write this post. In the ad were 7 short phrases that say:
· While the world shakes and stumbles, Africa dances to a different beat
· For every bank bailed out, 2 million Africans send money back home
· 1 in 5 European club players is African and million more are ready to shine
· As authorities try to tame the internet, Africa becomes the most mobile- connected place on the planet.
· For every international band trying to sell a song, 5000 African bands go live.
· The world’s most admired man is African, and so is the most beautiful woman.
· While the world turns grey, we (African people) live life in full color.