Turning the over-generalization of Africa to an advantage
I grew up in Oyo.
I got my Bachelor’s degree in Ogun.
I served my country for a year in Yola, Adamawa.
My last name is one of the most popular names in Kwara.
And, I am resident in Lagos. All in Nigeria.
I have deep connections to all these places and I can say that I truly feel that I am part of all of these communities. I don’t just see myself as a Lagosian, I see myself as being from each and every one of these cities.
Why can’t we extend this kind of feeling across international boundaries?
Where I can easily have deep connections to Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Madagascar?
Where we may not only see ourselves as being from a particular country but from all countries.
There has been a trend that has gone on for decades. Many people from the rest of the world seem to have little knowledge about Africa and quite quickly dismissed the sense of individuality among African countries by referring to any black person as African rather than, say Congolese or Ethiopian.
This kind of bigotry can be detrimental, no doubt about it, like when a couple of African countries were at war with the Ebola virus, some countries were quick to quarantine anyone that have visited any country in Africa even though that country is not at risk of Ebola and does not share borders with one that does.
But it does not have to always have negative impact. We can use this over-generalization to our advantage. The rest of the world see Africa as one nation why don’t we act as one nation?
- What will happen is we have free movement of resources across all African states?
- What will happen if we create the Nation of Africa (as duly suggested by the US Vice President)
- What will happen if we create a common economy as well as a common currency?
We should no longer correct that person that naively calls us African, rather than Angolan or Ethiopian.
We should no longer correct that person that visited Serengeti National Park in Tanzania but posted “On safari in Africa” as the caption to his/her photos on Instagram.
It is not going to be easy to “tone down” our nationality, however, if we can get behind this barrier, we will open up to one another in a way which is truly beneficial to all of us.
Innovations that may seem useless in one part of the continent will easily find its way to that part which it is more useful.
This will foster efficient growth for the continent as people will seek out those places where they can always produce maximum results.
However, there are some drawbacks which skeptics will quickly point out;
- The rate of growth of top African economies will slow down however, the collective growth of the continent will accelerate and over time that of the top economies as well.
- There is no sense of nationalism. Well, before the modern era, countries change borders based on alliances, wars and conquers. Countries grow and shrink based on these factors. Our sense of nationalism is defined by us and we can redefine it to also mean Continentalism.
- Some negative impacts from some countries will affect others. No doubt about that, and as will many decisions in life, there are positive and negative impacts of any decision. However, on careful consideration and implementation, we can achieve a state where the benefit outweighs the cost.
I am Adeniyi Bello and I am African.