The African Dream

The American Dream is something to admire. It seems almost unrivalled. When you’re in the United States on the 4th of July, watching spectacular firework displays and eating a good ol’ barbecue you find yourself wanting to be American. The dream is real. It’s tangible. It’s something splendid.

But what of the African dream? Do we have one? Does it even exist?

I recenty attended an event where someone spoke about the African Dream. He spoke of how African countries should unite under an ‘African’ banner and disregard Xenaphobia. Pan-Africanism, if you will. I listened and watched as a man from Kenya voiced his approval, followed by a group of Zimbabweans. The list goes on. The room was filled with an uproar of excitement.

Cue the white man in the room to stand up and declare himself an African as well. Disregarding the “African Dream” as purely black dream, but giving a different meaning or understanding to the word “African”.

It got me thinking. And perhaps it is true. Perhaps it is me being African that will ultimately prove me “worthy” rather than attaching myself to some far-fetched European roots.

A few years ago I travelled to Spain. In preparation for this trip, I took a course in Spanish and attempted to speak it daily (I am shocking at it btw). I was excited, joyous and nervous. And in true spirit I decided that I would test my language and skill at the market, arguing that if I was able to barter and wangle myself a discount (all in Spanish of course) then no one could say anything about my poor language skills.

The day arrived when a market stretched out along the beachfront. That morning, I awoke with anticipation. Like a true shopaholic, I began my journey at the very beginning (or end — depending which side you attempted the Market from) and weaved my way through stalls. “Hola, mi espanol es muy pobre…” I began, [Translation: hello, my spanish is very poor]. However, everytime I spoke, the spanish markerters would immediately converse in English with me. Upon saying this standard phrase, one man responded “It’s okay love, I’m English,” [read that in a British accent if you will].

Feeling slightly defeated, I navigated my way to a leather stall where I ended up buying a belt. That leather store was the only store that I received a discount from. Not because my Spanish was brilliant and I haggled like a boss, but because the guy running the store was from Morocco, and because I’m from South African he gave his fellow African a discount.

Now, in this case being African and having that commonality meant more than sharing a language in Europe, so perhaps Africanism counts for more internationally than we realize? Or perhaps I’m being naive? Is this the African Dream?

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