There is more to Africa than poverty

NdeyKumbaDembaI watched a video on globalization and its not-so-good effects in developing countries in my anthropology class the other day.

The countries featured in the video were Thailand and Senegal, West Africa. Senegal shares a border with my country, The Gambia.

Which means, we are basically the same people. We look alike and speak almost the same languages.

We are distinguishable when it comes to accent; they are a French colony while we are a British colony.

I remember particularly enjoying the video because I understood and speak the language they spoke in the background during the Senegal part. It was nice to hear something familiar and different.

Listening to and speaking English everyday is exhausting. Sometimes, I just need a break from it. It will be nice to just lose my mind one day and just scream out loud, “please make it stop.” Sometimes I wonder if speaking English everyday gets boring to Americans. I speak four languages. I never paid attention to it, but coming here has made me grateful for all the languages I can speak.

I don’t know what I’ll do if English was the only language I could speak and understand. Gosh! That sounds really boring but hey, to each your own. But this is besides the point.

I remember watching the video and thinking how lucky I am. My father worked hard to make a good life for us. Coming from a humble background, he made sure he had all the schooling he needed to have a great job and provide a good life for his family.

During the video, I was relatively surprised, as with the rest of the class, at the sheer poverty I saw. I just kept saying “thank you, dad” the whole time.

I grew up in what we call a compound, nice house and comfortable living. I grew up watching a lot of MTV, CNN (a reason I want to become a reporter), and movies: notably, Arnold Schwarzenegger movies because my dad was a huge fan.

We upgraded with changing times from VHS, DVDs to satellites. I used to be a huge my “Super Sweet Sixteen” fan, as well as “Room Raiders” and “Disaster Date.”

Though my mum was not so keen on me watching the shows. She thought they had a negative impact on me. And they probably did, too. I learned to talk back and be mad at every little thing.

I discovered what is called “I don’t wanna talk about it.” But alas, what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. A slap on my face will teach me all the lessons I needed to know – you laugh, but African mums don’t play.

I do not know poverty and I certainly don’t know what it feels like.

Though that would be unimaginable for some people, because to them everyone who comes from Africa is automatically assumed to be poor and hungry.

It is not true, but you can see the look of pity when one says they are from Africa, the supposed sadness in their eyes that basically says “sorry you had to be born there.”

Most people are shocked and surprised that I can be as smart as I am coming from Africa. In classes where I had to write papers, a couple of my instructors asked if I did my schooling in Africa.

I admit, I write better than I speak. As if, I have to have had an education anywhere but Africa to be “that good.”

The media portrays Africa as only a place of abject poverty, needing hand-me-downs from the West.

I agree there is poverty in Africa, but Africa is so much more than poverty and helplessness, needing a sense of direction from the people who “know” what direction we should be headed.


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