Kudos to Macron: Why Europe’s colonialization of Africa is still relevant

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity.

It’s such an easy and logical rationale, that many, even Africans themselves have internalized it and began to preach the gospel: Africa cannot, in fact, should not continue to use the history and legacy of European colonialism as a way to explain the widespread state of economic, social and political calamity experienced by most of the continent. Many of us today, feel ashamed, backward even, to begin distilling the horrific atrocities of colonial rule as a way to argue the continent’s current state of acute famine, disease, and poor or absent governance. And, yes, this should make a great deal of sense. After all, by the 1960’s most former colonies were celebrating independence. Viva a free Africa! well, maybe not entirely free but really, why does Africa even need to be totally independent?

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity. Instead of starting from the root cause of the African development palaver, the continent is continuously bombarded with a bucket list of suggestions, reforms, and overpriced projects. Macron’s comments at the G20 Summit provide ample reason why unpacking and detangling the history of colonial rule in Africa is still a necessary step for progress to take place.  Simply put, the careless statement should not be dismissed but rather, analyzed as a prime example of the simplistic approach that Africa’s complex issues are often viewed by the West. And yes, throwing ‘millions of dollars of aid’ also falls into that category.  As the Guardian’s Eliza Anyangwe so eloquently notes, “Macron’s statements make the blood boil not because they are novel but because they make no mention of the root causes of the challenges of which the president speaks. Gone is the lucid, welcome admission that France’s role in its former colonies was anything but laudable.”

So, no Macron, you cannot get a gold star for stating that Africa’s problems are to do with a lack of civilization (which your people supposedly brought, all quite confusing, right?) or that we have too many babies (which is done out of a need to survive, rather than our senseless desire to copulate). Such simplistic comments demonstrate the Western world’s lack of accountability and respect for the African continent. Most importantly, they tell us, as African people that de-colonialization still needs to happen both physically and mentally. We cannot argue that away, we simply need to deal with it.

p.c: http://bit.ly/2vkrZOR

 

ImmiGrant Diaries: The 67 Bus

The 67 bus would be leaving in exactly 5 minutes, no, rather in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Although my shift had ended over a half hour ago, I was expected to continue work until the second shift (a.ka. Bimpe) arrived. Bimpe was a joy to be with but never really caught on about the importance of punctuality. “Ore miiiiii, ma binu naaaa, you know that yeye boss of mine at my second job never allows me to leave on time. Only God will help us in this America o! Excuses and apologies were synonymous in Bimpe’s world. Of, course, she didn’t go by the name Olabimpe at work, but rather, Josephine Reynolds, her expensive and also illegal, “Government name” as they had been dubbed amongst the African immigrants. I suddenly found myself musing over what my own government name would be: Catherine or perhaps Katherine-with-a-K Smith? no, that seemed to scream “yes, I am working illegally” way too loudly. How about Alison Roberts? hmmm…maybe a little more believable. I often liked to play the game of conjuring the most hilarious combination of names that I might get once I had put enough money together to purchase a government card. The game was amusing until I remembered, I didn’t actually have a say in any of it. 3 minutes until the 67 Bus and still no sign of Bimpe. 

“Where on earth is Ms. Josephine Reynolds?!” “I…errr..sir..” “No excuse Ms. Ayodimeji! Always late! No more job for Josephine after tonight. No show, no job!” My manager, Mr. Ali, was perpetually angry. In my six years, mopping up and washing dishes at The Asia Food Palace, I had never seen the man smile. That’s not to say he was never in high spirits or dare say, happy, Mr. Ali was just angrily happy. However, I had decided a few years back that I liked Mr. Ali. He was in every literal sense of the word-a slave driver but the man was honest. He always paid wages and bills on time and in full, never once missing on monthly payments. The Asia Food Palace wasn’t much, a corner restaurant that served cheap inauthentic “Asian delicacies” which translated to oil-saturated spring rolls and diabetes-inducing sweet and sour chicken. But Mr. Ali had kept the business afloat for the last twenty-five years, and single-handedly for that matter. At one time, there were rumors that by night, The Asia Food Palace became an illegal drugs transaction point but I had waved off such comments as pure jealousy and the need to dismiss what could only be attributed to hard work and determination to succeed as a brown male in a white America.

30 seconds to go and still no Bimpe. Just as Mr. Ali stormed out of the kitchen still ranting, I caught a glimpse of the 67 bus, pulling into the bus stop by The Asian Food Palace. Shit, not again. Within seconds, the bus was on its way again. “Ore o!! I am here- if you know how bad traffic was ehn” a breathless and perspiring Bimpe rushed into the restaurant kitchen. “Bimpe, you’ve made me miss my bus, again. And Mr. Ali is seriously vexed” “Forget, Mr. Ali, isn’t he always vexed? abegi.” I shouldn’t have waited for an apology but I always did. “I’m off, Bimpe” “Thanks, ore! Let me get into this uniform before Mr. Ali kills me for my children”

Stepping out of The Asia Food Palace, I felt the cool but chilly breeze sweep my face. Winter was approaching. I pulled my Good Will-obtained H&M denim jacket closer to my body. The jacket was in great condition apart from the fact that it was missing a few buttons and had a visible hole by the right sleeve. “Holes are in fashion, jare!” was Bimpe’s response when I had complained about the visible wear and tear of the jacket. Without enough cash to call a taxi and having missed the last 67 bus, the only other option was to walk the 12 miles. I felt my phone ring and could only decipher that it was a call from home: Mama calling about Kola’s school fees again. There was no money and no prospects of me having any to send so the conversation would be fruitless. My fingers danced between the two options: “Decline” or “Answer”. I stuffed the phone back into my purse and headed down Lockford & 2nd Street. I would get back to them but just not now or tomorrow.

P.C: http://bit.ly/2uGKqOk

 

MLK Quote, 1967

“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans…These are the deepest causes for contemporary abrasions between the races. Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro, there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook. He remembers that with each modest advance the white population promptly raises the argument that the Negro has come far enough. Each step forward accents an ever-present tendency to backlash.” -Martin Luther King, Jr

Credits: http://bit.ly/1KukFCl

When Our Bodies get trumped

It’s not the first or most likely the last time the leader of the free world would attack and reduce feminity and being a woman to a shallow argument about physical looks. Dare to wonder why he thinks he gets a pass on that one. But as always, our bodies, our strong, beautiful and intricate bodies have been trumped.

Trump’s recent barrage on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and her alleged botched cosmetic surgeryTrump should alarm us for the simple reason that a president is not expected to publically make such comments.  However, more so, his degrading Twitter tantrum speaks volumes about the trials and obstacles that women constantly face in order to succeed in the corporate world as well as life in general.

Women- whether, white, black, brown- are constantly having their appearance scrutinized and rejected. The status-quo of a male-dominated society means that women always fall short, even if they attain perfection in all aspects of their lives. Yes, talk is cheap but Trump has demonstrated as he has done many times before, that women can and will continue to be reduced to physicality and sexual prowess.

 

p.c: http://bit.ly/2ts2E8w

 

Womens in me

To the womens in me and who have walked through me:

I thought about you all yesterday, as many hailed you and raised you up high. I felt a pride, yes. A pride of one who enjoys the yield of a sowing she did not attend. But between the lines of pride and joy, I also felt sadness, sadness that you must still request an invite to the table of humanity, sadness that your purity is still ranked according to pelvic tightness and painful groanings, sadness still that the pedestal is still too low and high and does not acrtually exist but you are made to believe and desire that it does, sadness again, that we cannot simply exist as womyns but as women always lacking-
and striving, sadness, that the present,
in all its future earnings,
can never simply be enough
for us,
for me,
and for the womens in me.