Thursday, April 13, 2006

Expert on Africa

I would like to know how one becomes dubbed the “expert on Africa”. I hear that term thrown around very often and it makes me wonder how they come to that conclusion.

Has someone lived in all the countries of Africa in order to qualify for that title? Do they understand the norms of all the tribes in all the countries? Does being born in Africa automatically make you an expert?

My concern would be that calling someone an expert on “Africa” is using the term too broadly or assuming like G.dabya (a.k.a president Bush) that Africa is a country. Without sounding very Adrian Mole, there IS in fact evidence suggesting Africa is a continent with many countries. See take note that there are 54 COUNTRIES in the CONTINENT of Africa.

I have had people in Maryland ask me where I’m from and when told I am from Zambia will gladly announce “oh that’s so cool, do you know Babatunde? He’s from Nigeria!” and I’m left wondering what that has to do with me. Do people from France necessarily have to know many people from Romania? Or the best question I have ever heard. “How did you get to Maryland from Zambia?” gee, I didn’t know there are other ways to get here from Zambia other than by plane. So I took a chance and told the person I swam to Florida, then took the grey hound bus to Maryland… and that seemed to satisfy her, and she wasn’t offended at all!
When I reflect on her, I realize the importance of having an “expert on Africa” to help dispel some myths about Africa to those that have an interest in learning. I am constantly amazed by what most Americans don’t know. It saddens me that in a country with soooo many resources and Universities, the greatest thinkers aren’t here

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