My late English teacher, who I could never really tell if he was teaching philosophy or the English Language, always said what experience teaches us is that it teaches us nothing. Writing my experience as an African brings meaning to my late teacher’s adage.
How do I narrate a single-sided lifetime without knowledge of the other side? I should have been an Asian or an American and then been an African to be able to know and confidently say “My Experience as An African”. That being said, I would write about being me, a West African and one who has never left the shores of his country.
Africans live in a diverse continent that has produced a variety of ethnic peoples, traditions and customs, languages, clothing styles etc. Our rich cultural heritage reflects our varied nature and comes in different forms like dance, music, food etc that we associate with groups of people. However, I have come to know that Africans share a common denominator, which comes in the form of “awareness”. Awareness that we are a free people but intimated by things we don’t know or see.
Personally, my fear of the unknown is not significant, compared to the typical African living in a rural area. I have had the privilege to study in equally great schools I would have loved to study in Europe, the United Kingdom, or the Americas. I enjoy Japanese ramen and I love barbecue ribs with some hot sauce. I don’t enjoy listening to Afrobeat music because I think they all sound alike and have lost their uniqueness to that effect.
I could go on about the many diverse things I like that are not African experiences, but the word count for this article would not permit me. My single-minded message would be my Africanity has had no or, for the sake of sound argument, little experience in my life’s experience.
My lack of travel outside the country rather urges me to know more about every other country out there in the world by way of utilizing technology. I work with diverse people with little consideration for continents. I shop from outlets in and outside Africa.
My experience as an African is nothing African apart from a shared history of colonialism and oppression. Beyond history, my life occurrences are socially foreign to any other race. African politics and economic variations would beg to differ…but in the words of Chinua Achebe, “If you don’t like my story, write your own.”
Written by Mr. Tagoe