Nomfundo Makhubu reckons that Africa is the only place in the world where Black people can exist peacefully, sans any scrutiny or whatever seeks to discredit our identity. But first, we need to fix the continent, she argues.
Earlier this year, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan sat down with the Queen of Talk Oprah Winfrey, in what would be a sobering example of the intersectionality of race and trajectories of Black people across the world. The tell-all interview recently earned an Emmy nomination under the "Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special" category.
The interview confirmed something I've always felt to be true — that there are very few places where Black people can be Black in peace. Whether we like it or not, we Black people are a collective community under a system that actively works to dismantle our Blackness. No matter how palatable some of us may think our Blackness is, there is no escaping the unmitigated gall Black bodies attract.
Meghan, to many, is a palatable Black woman — from her mixed-race features to the way she speaks. One would assume that her racial ambiguity wouldn't be triggering to her in-laws whose legacy is entangled in colonialism and racism. Meghan and Black people all around the world, quickly realised that even as a royal, there is no escaping the unmitigated gall.
Our intrinsically problematic society is the condition we dedicate most of our lives to undoing. A society that places value on people based on what they have and where they come from. In America, Congress passed a bill to counter the rise of Anti-Asian hate crimes. There is no such bill that seeks to protect the lives and interests of African Americans who encounter grotesque injustices to this very day. Asian people, primarily Chinese Americans, were the main targets of these awful attacks, descendants of wait for it… China, the world's emerging superpower.
Where To For Black Peeps?
Africa, with all its challenges, is without a doubt the only place where we will ever be Black (and African) in peace. When we fix Africa's crippling challenges, we free the African diaspora. When we build our own functioning growth systems, when we govern with ethics and compassion to promote inclusivity, when we empower our masses to contribute towards the United Nations' Sustainable Developmental Goals for themselves, their communities and descendants, only then will the African diaspora have leverage. Until then, more bills that ignore their plight will get passed and hate crimes will continue to rise.
Restoring Africa isn't merely a Pan-Africanism ideology, it is necessary for our survival. Europe and the West looted, enslaved, colonised, demolished and dismantled for their very survival. To do that they orchestrated and tapped into the height of barbarism. Applying strategies and a level of hate that can't possibly be natural to anyone, it's inconceivable. At the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic last year, every major news outlet kept asking why Africa's death rate was low? Headlines such as "Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa's low fatality" suggested that Africa was not supposed to successfully manage the pandemic.
I love this continent and I love a challenge. It's time to build — sustainable businesses and partnerships; education frameworks that are rooted in trade skills and socio-economic literacy; healthy families and communities which means tirelessly investing in mental health. After all, we have centuries of trauma to release. Right now Africa is abiding by a social contract formulated by those who came to loot and enslave. That of greed, terror and dishonesty. It's unnatural, it's un-African, it's self-hatred and it's evident in our crime, corruption and xenophobia statistics.
At Peace With Our Blackness
The mental strain of Black identity is not only real, it can be crippling. Wrestling between the multiple "personalities" Black people often have to assume to successfully navigate society to dealing with the dichotomy of Black consciousness. I do believe, unreservedly so, that positive experiences can correct the mental strain of essentially being Black. Positive experiences heal the wounds of our ancestors and form new generational patterns. I want to look around the continent and be reminded of the legacy of Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire, Mkabayi ka Jama, EndubisandYaa Asantewaa — not colonisation and a stolen trajectory.
While I contribute towards realising this dream, I'm reminded of my sister-friend Makho Ndlovu's words: "Wherever I am in Africa, that is my home and that is my peace." Makho emigrated to New York with her family at a young age, leaving her beloved Zimbabwe behind. As a 9-year-old moving to the Big Apple, her accent and dress sense made her stick out like a sore thumb. This was in the 90s when her peers were entrenched in hip-hop culture. "I struggled with acclimatising to all those changes. As a result, it was tough to fit in and tone down my 'Africanness,'" she recalls. In hindsight, she is now a global citizen who enjoys the full spectrum of who she is.
That said, having spent over 20 years in New York, Makho will tell you that there is nothing like landing at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport outside Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. It's a feeling many Africans in the diaspora can't fully put into words when landing on home soil. There's an instant connection with our ancestors and that nostalgic feeling of home.
Africa is an attractive option for developers, it is packed with opportunities and no longer just a fallback option. The continent beckons a new era, many are on the ground at this moment reimagining Africa, its trajectory, leadership and culture. This is a call-to-action I definitely want to get behind. And I'd like to urge many others to follow suit!