Africa isn’t a country. Wow, how many times must I have read it, seen it, heard it. How many times I’ve agreed and pointed it out? Who knows. A thought struck me one evening whilst watching Hector and the Search for Happiness, do people really think of Africa as a country?
In the film the main character, Hector, goes on an adventure, when asked “Where to?” first he says “China”. Beijing gets mentioned, Tibet gets shown. When asked “Where to?” lastly Hector says “L.A.”. All very clear but when asked “Where to next?” right in the middle he says “Africa.” This is where it gets interesting. I could not place where. It could have been Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Botswana, the Congo or parts of South Africa. There were wildlife shots from Kenya, beer drinking (Castle) and taxi’ing (GP number plate) in SA. Sweet potato stew, clothes from Zambia, warlords, “cars are few and far between”, Italian mobsters, really bad planes with livestock, field clinics and a lot of security guards. Which came to my question. Where, oh where in Africa was this supposed to be?
We are not a country, there are 1.111 billion people here. You might use China to counter that point. We live on 20,3% of the world’s land mass, that is 30 065 000 square kilometres. That’s larger than most of the world. Does that prove a bit that Africa is not a country.
However, does this prove that when people are told that “we are the biggest, the best and we don’t need to know about the rest” that they are ignorant? Yes, I know I’m pointing fingers at the rest of the world. Mainly pointing it to America. But films like that makes it clear what they think of us. It’s ignorant, selfish and almost infantilising us. Tell people that you’re better than the rest, well they will take it to heart and they will start stomping on other people. This is how the colonialists thought and in a recent article I read about what some Americans thought of South Africa and uranium, the conclusion I came to, was that they had the same mindset.
But, a big one, the same can be said about those who don’t pay attention to the world. Let me explain, if you only have to focus on your work and nothing else, you might not know who Snowden or Assange is. You might just skim the top of the news sites. You might just get by to carry on with your life. Your life might consist of just sport or art or whatever. There are a lot of people that work like that, it’s ok up to a point when it becomes ignorant. There are people who don’t know that Georgia is a country who has a woman president, that there’s a place called Chad or Oman. I’m not an expert in either, I just know that they exist and they have different cultures and a variety of things happen in them. They might seem insignificant, but they aren’t because people live there and people matter. I know snippets but that’s a good thing, I try to get know things.
This is not a lecture, this is however a plea. Not a usual one, but rather an interesting one. Broaden your horizons. I don’t mean you have to travel to Taiwan to get to know parts of the East. Just go read up on new things, explore something you’ve never thought you would. Press the random search button on Wikipedia or install stumbleupon on your browser. The World is teeming with new ideas and new possibilities. You might discover something you actually like. Start small, you would be surprised at how it might widen your vocabulary and horizons and you could make new friends. Knowledge really is power. People move forward and they grow with the more they know, read real books, read articles, explore, go on adventures. Mostly, support your local library those places are actually awesome.