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Keitu Reid

My Africa

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My Africa

 Twitter: @KeituReid

You watch television and all you see is Africa and its dependency. Why is this the only thing they ever say about us? You open the newspaper and you read that another African leader has stolen money from his famished nation. Why do our leaders do this to us? Surely this must embarrass them? It certainly embarrasses me.

The irony of course is even when I read about the beauty of Africa I find it dreary and monotonous – I was once so conditioned that when I read poetry about the rolling landscapes of Africa I thought it clichéd and boring. How could I have been so blind? To think that if it wasn’t Americanised it isn’t good enough? To think that if it wasn’t European it must be mediocre. I used to think all these things. But then again I was a trusting little child who believed in movie gloss over the truth….

These days however I am a little bit more grown up. I read more, I see more, I hear more. I see our entrepreneurs competing with international business. I have heard of our house music being played in New York clubs – and yes, even Beyonce attempted the pantsula dance. It is these little things that leave me hopeful; and with every day that passes I become profoundly proud of this place that they often depict as just cascading desert lands of orange and brown hues – when in fact it also has black snow topped mountains that pierce into the sky. We have surging rivers, fluid brooks and curving streams – all of which feed the lush fertile greenness that emerges from the wet soil. Its people, who are often photographed as ashen and cracked due to war, droughts and famine, are bright and optimistic.

And our children – our beautiful children! It is true that many of them sleep hungry, but these youngsters will wake up when morning breaks and you’ll finding them outside playing with a giggle and a smile. Our women are heroic despite these hard times of sickness and joblessness; they grow braver with each blow; and when evening comes miraculously they will place a plate of food on the table. And our proud African men, to this day they face discrimination but they still march on. Yes, some of those images showing our men as angry and ruthless are true; our history is blurred by hurts and constraints. The thing is I have also seen images of our men praying, dreaming, believing, hoping, loving.

Perhaps we are the continent of darkness. But every night has a new dawn. I relish in this light because my Africa is vibrant. It is colorful. Its music is rhythmic and its people’s laughter is contagious. I admit, its landscapes really seem to go on forever to touch the gates of heaven – I no longer find this clichéd. I find it lovely.

We, Africans are resilient; in the face of our terror we have remained creative. So in keeping with this inventiveness it is really up to us to rewrite history. We owe it to our children to paint the kind of pictures we would like to see over and over again. We owe it to ourselves to reconstruct our doomed legacy and instead build on our God given wealth.

Let us be proud of our diverse beaches and our dangerous crocodile infested lakes. The gems beneath our soil – why are we handing them over to other countries? Let us take them back and nurture the prosperity that they will bring forth. Let us build schools and hospitals and transport systems with that money.  The big thick juicy fruits that grow from our land – why are our children starving when we have rows and rows of mielies and sugar cane and vineyards…. Let us be jealous of these things and have a say in how they are used so they benefit us too.

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