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"I am a little bit of everything all rolled into one.I am a lover,I am a child, I am a mother,I am a sinner, I am a saint. I do not feel ashamed.I am your hell, I am your dream, I am nothing in between." "I am the past you know nothing bout. The future you cannot ignore."

Restoring self esteem and black pride

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I recently asked myself what steps we were taking as Africans to restore the self esteem of our people. These are people who’ve dealt with racism, western imperialism and marginalization; being told that they are less off and undeserving of proper human status. How do you tell a person with an eroded self esteem that all the humiliation, disrespect and undermining are false, especially after it has been perpetuated for a long time?

We have had many conversations across many platforms about what it means to be African. What it means to be proud and unbending in our aspirations and values. How do we celebrate and preserve out history and culture while simultaneously embracing change, development and social progression. In the first ever article I wrote for Consciousness, I remember highlighting that the greatest misconception about African progression is that it equaled westernization or being rural and prancing around in ‘traditional garb”. We tend to think that without Europeans, we wouldn’t have been civilized or progressed, but you must remember that there were touches of civilization in many parts of Africa. Our history has been distorted because we don’t tell our own stories.

We don’t embrace our own culture, tell our own stories and capture our own history. Everybody is looking to the next person and it creates mediocre that really doesn’t get us far. Where are the journalists, writers, photographers, film makers, producers etc? The one excuse I often hear is, ‘there are no funds’. Money always comes up where it’s most needed. Black people say there’s no money but guess what, there is money for alcohol, parties, fancy clothes and all sorts of jols, and neither do they exhaust the resources that are offered by government. How about putting our money where it matters? We must learn to support our own people, believe in them through identifying people with abilities and constantly supporting their efforts. Capturing history is not about living in the past, but understanding and formulating our future with knowledge of what happened. Today is history in the making; every passing day is a chance to capture the African journey.

Nowadays we have a problem with ‘mind stagnation’; minds are filled with soapies, videos, hip hop bunter etc and little information that can build and enhance them. While younger people are indoctrinated by western imperialism pop culture that dulls their minds, older people perpetuate it because they lack the vision, leadership and sense of pride to teach and impart useful information. The current generation isn’t like this by chance; it’s the older generations fault. Young girls were allowed to fall pregnant and have babies unprepared. Old men see younger girls as women. Youngsters drink as they wish as there is no supervision at home. We have allowed materialism to erode our values and principles. It’s just a social mayhem as there is no order, accountability, responsibility and sense of identity. This is mainly because in trying to ‘keep up with the times’ we adopted western ways that are alien to us.

The aim is to close up that dichotomy and cultivate a sense of pride, self value and understood identity. We must love ourselves in all eternity, love others, respect, encourage and motivate. We must also be able to be stern and engaging on issues of concern. There is no culture of dialogue, debate and discussion in African culture; one is expected to say the right things instead of the relevant things.

Restoring the self esteem of the black man/woman is a cumbersome process yet one that can be achieved, in order for us to reach our greatest abilities. In 2012, it’s a bit lame to be blaming our reality on history. What are you as an individual doing to change your reality beyond just moaning and berating the past? Are you learning new things, like technology, energy efficiency, water systems etc? These are relevant. Are you going back to school to study? Are you sourcing or raising funds for your projects? What are you doing? Or you are just a beneficiary of a system. Blacks complain about land. When you get that land back, what are you going to do with it? Do you have the knowledge and expertise on farming? These are basic questions we must ask ourselves before we start reacting. Some of our leaders have proven beyond comprehension that some Africans are incapable of managing resources, leading people etc. That is why some countries are bootlickers to the European states. Now Africa is China’s bitch. What does that say?

Restoring black self esteem and pride goes beyond wearing your hair natural, shunning foreign products, chanting political slogans, resenting the west/Europe, speaking local languages etc. It’s about fixing the inside; a spiritual revolution of sorts. Unlearning all the self defeating ideas we have and replacing them with positive ones. Unpacking our own issues, having conversations with our self, finding our place on this earth and making a contribution, first of all, as a human being. When you have found YOU as a human being, with time race becomes a small issue. Race and black marginalization are still there and will always leak but can be combated by overlooking those minorities, empowering ourselves and growing. Great minds don’t reduce themselves to rubble but continuously grow and learn. It takes a high level of Consciousness.

*Keletso Thobega is a public relations corporate, entrepreneur and freelance writer.

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