“It’s really beautiful. It feels like God visits everywhere else but lives in Africa.” — Will Smith
While, I give kudos to the heart of the person who first said “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.” I bless the hearts of all those who keep alive the spirit of friendship. Like the hearts of some of my friends’ friends and friends, for their response to the title of this series. Though I had a narrative for this post, the answers and feedback to my last article, have enriched my perspective and juiced out questions in me I had no idea could be squeezed out.
The preceding sub-headings could come off as excessive emotional revealing and may elicit the disapproval, of some of my readers, for posting such an article on LinkedIn or Medium, as these are professional platforms. Since, it is an open secret that it is not professional to be emotional, in professional spaces.
Though I can understand the wisdom of the open secret, I find it hard to understand why most leadership and management books, emphasize that great leaders are great because they are adept at managing the emotions of their teams. Even, Dale Carnegie and Associates’, book, How To Win Friends and Influence People In The Digital Age, to me is nothing but a modern-day manual on how to remain emotionally connected at work — since these days most works are done digitally.
And, to my dear readers with the above inclinations, allow me to remind you that the BLM movement is as grand as it is because of its emotional nature. The Triple Bottom Line as proposed by John Elkington, to the SDGs that global leaders are striving to achieve by 2030, will not come into existence nor be achieved without acknowledging our emotions, especially in professional spaces, such as this.
When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. -Dale Carnegie
Now, let’s dive right in this article, it will consist of:
1. Received feedback from my last article
2. My Evidence
3. MY Concluding thoughts from 1 and 2 above.
While there’s a plethora of mutually exclusive responses and feed that I received, I can only share the first three I received. I have reproduced each response as received, and formally interpreted the meaning of some of the African colloquialism (slangs) used. Below is the feedback:
1. What has American done for those who were killed and are being killed in NW(North West) and SW (South West) Cameroon?
How many Americans have you seen posting on their status “Human Lives Matter in the NW and SW Cameroon?” Whereas African wasn’t event silent to his death. Massa (Man) people should stop writing dull (Hogwash). -From Cameroon
2. It’s simple: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. First Priority, here (in Africa) it’s surviving, when you cover the necessities for a living (nutrition, healthcare, education, good financial institutions) then that’s when people can start getting involved in other causes. — From Sierra Leone
3. Because Africans want to go abroad and experience for themselves. Africans wan (want to) jand (travel abroad). If you tell a typical Nigerian that people suffer abroad, they’ll be like: “Give me my own visa first, I’m sure the suffer (suffering) isn’t more than being in Nigeria” — From Nigeria
Also, I called a well-traveled friend for his thoughts on the subject matter. Memory, will fail me to quote him word for word, but his thoughts consisted of five touchpoints, which are:
1. How global renowned celebrities honor the invites of African dictators, whose oppressive regimes make global headlines, to private parties and soirees.
2. After the inferno witnessed by the French cathedral, Africans in Africa commemorated with France, by using the social media profile picture addon with the France flag over their profile pictures, but when an African country witnesses a global headline disaster, the mourning of the disaster hardly leaves the borders of that country.
3. How it was until the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released Black Panther, that most African-Americans and Africans alike began to publicly appreciate African culture, symbols, and expressions, sharing, when he was in the US a half-decade ago, African-Americans condescended on recently migrated Africans to the US.
4. His experience when he once lauded the African-ness, of an African-Surinamese lady who publicly stated her positive feelings towards African-Descent males, whose response to his lauding was “I am not from Africa, I am not African”
5. How a couple of years ago, he witnessed how an African friend of his who recently migrated to the UK, was blown off by an African-British lady, who highlighted how awful his friend’s African accent was, and advised him to learn to speak proper English.
I am sure you will agree with me that his touchpoints are poignant. Also, I can testify that I have personally witnessed different shades of his touchpoints three to five. Though the premise of this post was to table my evidence of Africa’s silence, I hope after the next paragraph, you will also see why my received feedback exceeds my initial promise for this article.
…as I’m growing up, I’m thinking about the fact that it’s people in third world countries who are way worse, that I’ve seen, now traveling the world before me… — B.o.B
Three weeks after the global unrest of George Floyd’s death, I asked a friend back home, in Nigeria, how the news channels were reporting The Black Lives Matter Movement. To my dismay, I was informed that it was only touched on, on local TV Channels, because there were other pressing matters. But, it was only palpable via Social Media. As the government was in the trenches to ensure citizens understand the gravity of the pandemic and take precautionary methods to flatten the curve. Even, if top government officials and their aids, publicly undermine the prescribed safety precautions.
From hearing the above, I was intellectually irked, because my little awareness could not comprehend, why news channels, disenfranchise its viewers on such a global issue that affects the dignity of each citizen and is directly connected to the economic development of the nation. After all, Africa is the continent with over 50 nations, habited by over 1 Billion people that all look like George Floyd, and it is the right of these people to be well informed why and how someone that looks exactly like them lost his life, for looking just like them.
If you put crabs in a barrel to ensure your survival, You’re gon’ end up pulling down niggas that look just like you, What up, Blood? Uh, what up, cuz? Uh, it’s all black, uh, I love us — Jay Z & Kanye West
I believe the local news omission to fully report and cover #BLM, is the reason why my good friend who gave feedback three, rightly concludes:
Africans wan (want to) jand (travel abroad). If you tell a typical Nigerian that people suffer abroad, they’ll be like: “give me my own visa first, I’m sure the suffer(suffering) isn’t more than being in Nigeria”
I know my tone in the above paragraph might make you, my reader, think I am unaware of we Nigerians are do value the American Visa on our passports. Make no error, I am well aware. Once upon a time not too long ago, I too coveted an American Visa on my Nigerian passport. This justifies why feedback no. 1 concludes with:
Massa (Man) people should stop writing dull (Hogwash)
But, my well-traveled friends vanished that coveting from me, with their tales and experiences in the US. And, part of my present zeal is to help vanish the coveting from other Africans.
Talking about my friends, my second evidence is also from a conversation, I had with a friend who moved to the US over a year ago, in June. I reached out to know how he was coping with the ongoing protests, with the hope to feel what he feels, as an African participating in a #BLM protest in the US. But, he could not give me much, because he avoided the protests and decided to stay locked in, to avoid getting into what he calls unnecessary trouble.
Though I understand his reason for staying away from the protest, I reined my eager gavel, from judging his decision to not participate — which was a hard rein. Because, putting myself in his shoes, I can understand that as African whose migration to the US is under 3 years, my measure of success will not include how many protests I participated in, but in the number of dollars I can send back home.
The above paragraph defends and solidifies feedback No. two’s position:
It’s simple: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. First Priority, here (in Africa) it’s surviving, when you cover the necessities for a living (nutrition, healthcare, education, good financial institutions) then that’s when people can start getting involved in other causes.
Because I doubt, if I was not privileged to have food in my belly, a roof over my head, clothes on my back — Physiological Needs, trust in the government to defend my security, to be healthy to travel — Safety Needs, and good friends and readers to share my thoughts with — Love and Belonging Needs, I will not be able to be present nor have the focus to make the observations I did at the BLM protest in my last article.
I know the above paragraphs are quite heavy and can seem disjointed. But, I hope you read between the lines to glean that the reason, Africa is silent about George Floyd, can be attributed to ‘Systemic Disconnects’, a phrase coined by Scharmer and Katrin, in their iconic book. These Systemic Disconnects can be simply defined as structural issues that lead people to behave and act in old or outdated ways that do not allow them to connect to new realities that are emerging.
To delve deeper into these systemic disconnects is beyond the scope of this article. But I believe a major disconnect can be found between Africans in Africa, and other African Descents, with nationalities outside Africa, and vice-versa. Also, I like to think that there’s a disconnect with how the rest of the world receives support for natural disasters or manmade injustices, and how Africa receives support and condolence from the rest of the world when it faces a natural disaster or manmade injustices — Global headlines and leaders are still silent about human rights violations, ongoing in Zimbabwe.
“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” ― Shannon L. Alde
Experience has taught me that no matter how magnified the lens, I am using to read between the lines, there will be lines that will fall on my blind spot. So, dear reader, I will be glad to read and know what you find from combing through the lines in the above texts. While the finale of this series title will be in another two weeks.
Till then, I remain radically open-minded to your comments and perspective, to any improvement you might have to my documented thoughts.
By the way, in my last article, Climate Change vs SDGs awareness, I left a link for you to test your Climate Change and SDGs awareness, here’s the direct link to the form. I will appreciate your input in the form. Thank you in advance.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.