Immigration and immigrants is one topic that has continued to create a huge debate in Norway for a long time now. When Norwegians refer to foreigners, then they are referring to all non-Norwegians and of course there are many other people from different backgrounds. That is not in my topic today. Having written on some of the stereotypes that we Africans have concerning the whites, you will agree with me, it is just fair for me to tell my black friends about some of the common stereotypes these whites have, not on all foreigners, but about us- Africans.
Africans are Lazy.
Yes, I have heard it loud and clear, that Africans are extremely lazy. “I think it is because of the weather and the tropical climate does not make it any good. All they want to do is just to sit down and stare.” Said one Norwegian and this hurt me!
There is huge unemployment rate in most parts of Africa and when they are visiting and they see people seated down, probably reflecting on where to get at least a meal for the day, they make conclusions Africans are lazy. Of course this has been championed by the fact that, Kenya and many other countries in Africa are facing financial crisis and have heavily relied on donor funding. The truth is we are paying for the sins our corrupt and greedy leaders. Africa as a continent is endowed with massive resources and I am convinced this wouldn’t have been the case if some people in top positions made the right decisions. Shift blaming will not solve the African problem, so all Africans in our own small ways, we can help rescue Africa from depending on aid and donations from the developed countries.
A typical example of an indication that we can solve our own problems is the Kenya for Kenyans initiative in August this year, where Kenyans mobilized each other and raised millions of cash to help the hunger stricken areas in the Northern part of Kenya, Turkana. Within a week, Kenyans raised more than they anticipated, and this was done entirely with the need to solve our own problems. Over to you my Kenyan friend!
Africans are uncivilized and uncultured!
Being civilized or cultured is relative. If a white person comes to Kenya and does or behaves in a manner that does not correspond to Kenyan culture, we say they are uncivilized and uncultured. So really this does not bother me. Culture is what defines us, what makes us unique and different. No culture is superior that the other, therefore, for some people to think they are more civilized and cultured because they think what they do is right or perfect, that is pure naivety. And of course that is as a result of lack of knowledge. The differences, the diversities, to me is what makes life interesting. Tolerance and acceptance should be key.
Africa, a Poverty Exhibition
I have heard of such comments before. I talked to one of my Norwegian friend who has been to Africa many a times. “My impression of Africa is that there is a lot of poverty. All over the places I went to, all I saw was poverty and signs of poverty. I fell sick all most of the time I was in Africa and of course that influenced my impression of Africa as a poor continent with poor social amenities.” He said. I agree when the whites make such comments, this is because they are way developed and many are not used to such extreme social conditions.
In my last blog, I mentioned that we think the white do not shower, simply because when they do, they do not change their clothes, and one Norwegian said, “I am shocked that Africans change their clothes all the time they shower, strange, I didn’t even think that Africans have clothes to change. In addition, I am actually shocked that they shower everyday!” Yes, I can understand his surprise, especially when some think our black colour is as a result of dirtiness.
Many other people sighted the image of poor Africa referring to the pictures and films that are often showed in media of stabbing people, criminality, starving children, HIV& AIDS patients, malnutritioned children and so forth. Yes, the media is largely to blame for this.
During our conversation, one Norwegian remarked, “I think most of us misinterpret Africa. Having been to different parts of Africa, I am confident that Africa is more than meets the eye”. Of course I agree with her, but still my other friends were not convinced. They pointed at the fact that a huge percentage of people in Africa are living in poverty and therefore, that is definitely the bigger picture and image of Africa.
Africans are criminals!
Many foreigners have tried to work hard to make these whites believe that foreigners and Africans are criminals. The kind of things people do in order to get to Europe or America, the many dubious means people use in order to secure their daily bread while abroad is incredible. Sometimes I hear some of the stories narrated to me by Norwegians of how they have been conned by foreigners, and I feel ashamed. We have painted this image and we have to think of how to correct it. Many quoted some of the many development projects that have failed in Africa even when they were convenienced to invest huge funds in these projects.
If you ask me, criminality knows no boundaries. “I am more than happy that the July 22 terror attack happened in Norway and of course I am happy that it was a Norwegian who did it, woe unto us foreigners if it was one of us. We will probably have all received deportation notices. It happened just to let the Norwegians have a different perspective of us as Africans and as foreigners.” Said an African friend.
Africans are not intelligent!
I already mentioned this on my previous blog post. For a long time, of course this hails from colonialism. The whites colonized us, brought us Education, Christianity and taught us many things, automatically we associate them with superiority and imagine they are more intelligent than we are. And because of that, we have given them a chance to think of us as not being intelligent. Remember, people treat you the way you present yourself. I still want a chance to correct this unobjective mindset. We have intelligent and non- intelligent people everywhere. Many of us unconsciously suffer from inferiority complex and make other people doubt that there could be any good in us. The whites, are lucky that they are in developed countries, with better technological infrastructure, at least that for me makes the difference, and makes me see myself in a better perspective!
Even with all these stereotypes that tend to increase the gap between us and them, I am optimistic that through globalization, the world is truly becoming a global village and soon or later, we will be able to appreciate each other as common humanity, colour and race and race notwithstanding!
“Attempting to get at truth means rejecting stereotypes and cliches.” Harold Evans