No, you still don’t get it when I say Africa.
I’ve been terribly disturbed for a few weeks now about the word ‘Africa’. The name, rather. You see, mother taught me that names are incredibly important. I mean, name your child Anger and see how that pans out. By the same token, who gave my continent and its people her name? And how does Africa demand that you say her name?
So, like the smart lady that I am, I googled it. One source tied it to the Greek, another to the Latin language and another to the Berber tribe that resided around what used to be Carthage and is now Tunisia. The Greek word for Africa would have been aphrike, meaning without cold. The Latin word would have been aprica, meaning sunny. And the Berber guys, they’d have been called Afri. The Phoenicians translated this to Afar, meaning dust.
Now, this gives us a couple of angles from which to view Africa, the name. Without cold, sunny and dusty. Sound familiar to anyone? Well, of course it does, that’s a large percentage of our geography. Although of course the tea you enjoy so much comes from my highlands, but that’s besides the point. Point is, the ancient civilizations weren’t half as ignorant as ours is, considering how little they actually knew about us.
Here’s what I mean. They met a tribe that resided in dusty areas that were so much warmer than their own, so they named it as it was. Fast forward to this century, where the world’s geography is properly mapped out for all and Google(bless their souls) exists. It is in this age that people can boldly declare that Africa is a country; according to some guy somewhere, a country in Nigeria. Where some guys somewhere believe that Africa sources its electricity from overseas(they’re not very smart, those guys). Where some other lovely creatures also still believe that the place is a hub for disease and ignorance. My, these guys…
I’ll have you know that we speak all your languages better than you do and grow three quarters of what you eat, thank you very much. That and a whole lot of other things.
In short, here’s how it is… If we got tired of everyone else on this planet, we could shut our borders, recall our people from foreign lands and watch everyone else crumble. But we’re Africa, we’ve got a reputation of being nice to our neighbours. Until we’re not nice anymore. So next time you say ‘Africa’, say it with respect, say it correctly and say it very, very nicely. Africa’s a beautiful woman, so her name better roll from your tongue like a perfect note from a perfect flute.