Culture

Africa is Geography’s DMX

The other night, after watching the 10pm news on ABC, “Nightline” came on. I’m not a fan of that show, so I typically don’t watch it. Due to the fact that the remote control wasn’t within arm’s reach of me, and my sheer laziness, I sat there and watched “Nightline” come on.

The topic was an exposé on African children who are accused of witchcraft, and I sat there knowing I would not be pleased at all with what I was about to see but I watched anyway. They showed children that were crying while being told by their parents that they had evil spirits in them that they had to be exorcised. Then there was the part where they showed a child that had hot wax poured on him for his “exorcism”. This was just one of the many instances of foolishness. While they were rebuking the children of their supposed witchcraft, iRebuked THEM. After watching about 15 minutes of the show, I was pretty much done. DONE, I say!

iCan’t with the American media and their intrigue with seemingly uncivilized Africans. Between the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and these “investigative reporters”, Africa’s rap sheet is worse than DMX’s. We only seem to be only interested in the Africa that’s disease-ridden, poverty-stricken and with no sense of modern day living. The kids with the dusty hair and flies buzzing around their heads are apparently what’s lukewarm in the gutters. Let the media tell it, no one in Africa thinks bras exist. All they ever show are the women with the foot tits & men with the pinocchio wee wees. Unacceptable!

It’s on some “Crikey! Let’s watch the African in his natural habitat” crap. And the journalist who covers these stories is always a skinny white guy who “cares”. King Kong called. He wants his complex back (HI-YO!) That is a different post all by itself.

I’m not saying they ought not show the jungles of Africa and the people who wear fig leaves and nothing else. However, it should not be the only part of Africa that is everywhere. Methinks the flat views of Africa is ridiculous, misleading and counterproductive. Have you ever seen a special about the continent that was about city life? Hell, show ONE house that isn’t made of mud and I may be slightly appeased. Jeebs be some different viewpoints for the media & Africa. HMPH!

This 1-dimensional view of Africa in the media is part of the reason why when I was in elementary school, kids would ask me the dumbest questions. Since it was before I became the snark-master I am today, I never really replied. I should have responded with equally ignorant ish like “Does your Trailer Park blow away when it gets really windy?” or “Is your mom also your aunt?” But no, I was still un-IG and kind of shy. Then there were the idiots who used to be like “Luvvie, Mon!!” Me: *thinking* Look here, you fire-haired braceface! I’m not Jamaican.

Too bad that elementary school kids were not the only people who had ignorant questions for me. Some of the ones below have been asked by adults! Here’s the top 5.

Top 5 STUPID Questions

“Do you speak African?” – Please go stand in traffic. There is no such language as “African”. You see, it’s actually a huge continent, and not one country, so we all speak different tongues. Although the countries are a result of Europeans being greedy. Africa was doing bad all by itself then Europeans came and “developed” it. They drew asinine ass boundaries that barely took tribes into account, called them countries and left chaos in their wake. That’s like me putting the Bloods and the Crips in the same condo, and saying “Ok, now rule yourselves.” EPIC FAIL. So, no, I don’t speak African.

“When did you learn to speak English?” – One day, I was determined to learn this language they referred to as “English” so I went to the one library in the country, to the restricted books section and pulled out the only book in English and read it for many months. *STRONG side-eye* OR I learned at home and it is as much as my first language as Yoruba is. Go sat down.

“Do you wear clothes where you’re from?” – Yeah we wear clothes in Chicago. Oh, you meant Nigeria. Not only do we wear clothes, but folks have their seamstresses on speed dial. There’s a yellow helmet and short bus waiting for you outside.

“Have you ever seen a lion?” – Of course I have. I too am a fan of “Lion King”. I even got “Circle of Life” on my MP3 player. I will bust into “Hakuna Mutata” at the drop of a dime! And when Mufasa died, my eyes may have leaked a little (remember that thugs don’t cry). Oh, you meant in my backyard? I oughta roundhouse kick you in the spleen for asking me that.

“Do you have light? – This little light of mine is all I need to let shine. Besides, who needs light when you have the sun? When the sun comes up, we start our day. If the sun is down, we have no need for light. We go to sleep. *side-eye* Jeebs be some sense for you. IJOT!

And for a bonus one…

“Do you have cars?” – Who needs cars when you have the back of goats? That’s perfectly good transport! For extra big people, we use baby elephants. PLEASE go give yourself a papercut. Kthxbai!

One thing people don’t ask me enough is “Are you a princess?” – Why, yes I am. But my petal-throwers are on vacay (and the royal vajay stays clean). Lazy bastids! My Granny was a princess though (like for real). So does that make me a dutchess? In fact, henceforth, please refer to me as “Dutchess Luvvie (The Earl of IG)”. Kthnx *curtsies*

So the moral of this story is: Kick the next person that asks you a dumb question about Africa in the shin Wait. I take back the strikethrough. The moral IS to kick the next person that asks you a dumb question about Africa in the shin.

For my readers, please regale me with tales of the foolishness you’ve encountered when it comes to ignorance about your culture. I’m sure they are infinite. We can compare notes on snarky responses to give.

Oh, and below are pictures of Lagos, Nigeria, a city with skyscrapers, beaches, cars… *GASP* They do indeed exist. The pictures you probably will never see on “Nightline”, CNN and the sorts. Enjoy.

Edit: Thanks to Jen for sharing this link. “How to Write about Africa”. It’s hilarious in it’s snark. This is an excerpt:

“Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book.”

25 Comments

  1. amymay
    May 26, 2009 at 1:52 am — Reply

    Kilt me dead several times, and I barely had a pulse to start with coming from @naturallyalise and @Dannigyrl’s dance battle….

    What finally flatlined me for good was the yellow helmet/short bus line…

    I don’t have foolishness directed at me so much, but you would be surprised how many times I have been asked “Does your son KNOW he’s black?” Well, actually, he has his own ideas about that business. If you ask him, he’s brown and I’m peach… some folx are just special in that sugar-coated window lickin’ kinda way. Morons.

  2. Jen
    May 26, 2009 at 2:05 am — Reply
  3. KindredSmile
    May 26, 2009 at 8:52 am — Reply

    LMAO Jen that link was amazing. Thanks

  4. Luvvie
    May 26, 2009 at 9:07 am — Reply

    Amy – I tell you bout folks sometimes

    Jen – You absolutely ROCK for sharing that link. I laughed HARD. I even editted the post to include it.

    Kindred – Indeed it is!

  5. Hostess
    May 26, 2009 at 10:11 am — Reply

    On my way back into the US from my visit to the COUNTRY in Africa I visited, it was the people at customs who were badgering us about why we’d want to go to ‘insert country here’. BTW, UGH! I didn’t just go to AFRICA. I went to a specific country cus Africa is a continent not country.

  6. Neicy
    May 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm — Reply

    Wooow @ this post.
    “How dreadful” (c)Dwight.

    In class, my old prof would answer those questions like you would. At one point, Dr. Anadi (a Nigerian) had one stupud girl beleiving:

    -There was a Zamunda, and he was the crown-price of it
    -He has at least, but not limited to 60 wives, and countless children
    -His castle was made of ivory and gold
    -she was going to pass the class.

    iWeep for people sometimes.

  7. RiPPa
    May 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    I could relate to you on this. I'm from Trinidad & Tobago, but moved to Brooklyn as a youngster. I had no problems there and then. It was when I went off to college in Indiana of all places.

    When I would tell people where I was born, they would always ask if it was in Africa. Then I would tell them that it's in the Caribbean. They would almost always say, "oh that's by Jamaica. Oh I always thought y'all spoke Spanish. BTW, what the hell is Shabba Ranks and them be sayin?"

    LOL

    I did have one guy ask me if we ate lions in Trinidad & Tobago.

  8. Blackberry Molasses/The Rebel Intellectual
    May 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    I completely feel you on this post. THE FOOLYWANG I used to get asked.

    A lot of it was the same as yours, because, you know, AFRICA is one BIG COUNTRY of monolithic people. *sigh*

    When I was teaching it was particularly bad, until I showed them picutres of my family homes in Ghana.

    Folks don’t know that over here, we’re living the ROUGH life.

    I can’t wait… I’m going to Ghana for Christmas for 3 weeks.

  9. (fŭng'kē) [blak] [chik]
    May 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm — Reply

    I remember when I brought home my first real boyfriend from college…who was born in NJ but parents were from Nigeria. OMG, my maternal grandma embarrassed the shit out of me. She asked him if he had a spear?!?! Till this day he still brings that meeting up. During college is mother passed away and I went to Nigeria with the family for the funeral…one of the most amazing places I’ve been to yet!

  10. LibraSong
    May 26, 2009 at 4:22 pm — Reply

    i know i say this often, but this is one of your best posts to date. “have you ever seen a lion?” and the reaction made me heartily chortle.

  11. Shida
    May 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    Awww man ya girl beat me to it. I was about to share that “How to Write…” with you too. I actually tagged you to it few weeks ago on a facebook note. Hmph goes to show how much attention to pay me :o( *tear*

    Great note though. Being as though I’m a proud Black INFORMED force immigrant to the good ole US of A I know the full Africa. My fiance (Kenyan; as in born raised and currently living there) would appreciate this. ::le-sigh:: We got to do better

  12. Shida
    May 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm — Reply

    P.s. So I studied abroad a summer in Kenya (yep where I met my boo- fairytale romance story and whatnot) Before I left I got ALLLL sorta of questions:
    1) Do they have electricity?
    2) Where will you bathe?
    3) You ready to sleep in huts?
    4) Don’t they speak that click-click language?
    5) Aren’t you afraid of lions and elephants?
    6) Don’t you worry you’ll get aids (yea, someone said that to me…shaking my GOT damn head!)

    I’m like damnit people I flew in on a JET to DOWNTOWN Nairobi with SKYSCRAPERS, MALLS and TAXIS just like NY. DAYUM!!! We’re SO ignorant, but for a reason. The more you keep true knowledge of self from someone…

  13. Anonymous
    May 26, 2009 at 8:28 pm — Reply

    I understand what everyone is saying about the modern places of Africa, but it bothers me when people always counter the bush depictions with Western images like there is no middle ground. I wouldn’t want to visit Africa to see skyscrapers and malls. I can see that here in America. That’s just as bad as what they show on television, in my opinion.

  14. the YOUNG LIONESS
    May 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm — Reply

    Thank you for putting this out there and might I add with a great touch of humor! I have been asked similar questions once people discover I am Nigerian-American.

    Ignorance truly is bliss for the masses. It really is unfortunate that what people see through media shapes what they think they know, which usually is nothing. I agree with anonymous above me as well. I think that all parts of the spectrum need visibility and not just the opposite, which is Western depictions.

  15. Melly
    May 26, 2009 at 10:26 pm — Reply

    I almost dies reading this.. ( go stand in traffic.. hilarious!!)I’m from Trinidad so I can totally relate. and I’ve been asked some of the same questions, like what’s my first language, how long did it take me to learn English, do we have running water… like for real peeps?? bonus, which part of Jamaica is Trinidad (eye roll) and how long is the bus ride to Kingston?…

  16. Tha Management
    May 27, 2009 at 11:48 am — Reply

    Worst thing I’ve ever been told I wrote on the cabbie post:

    You can’t be Nigerian … 1. You don’t have an accent and 2. You are pretty and Nigerian woman aren’t typically pretty. Nope, you have black features, you can’t be African …

    Um scuze me, what are “black features”??? Where do you think Black people originated from??? Why wouldn’t I have “black features”?

    And even deeper, how can you tell me where I’m from???

    But my own dead wrong and dumb story … When I was in middle school, I asked my black friends where they were from and they said South Carolina. And I was like, NO, where in Africa are you from (because in my mind, if you were a descendant of slaves, you were brought here from outside of this country so where is that place?) They promptly responded, I’m not from Africa, I’m from South Carolina. And that was the end of that.

  17. Stacy
    May 27, 2009 at 11:52 am — Reply

    I was born and raised in Washington state, so luckily I don’t have too many people coming up to me and asking stupid questions…here are the top 3.
    1. Your family has been here a long time, why are you still so dark?
    2. Why don’t you speak Swahili?
    3. What tribe are you from?

  18. Ms. Liryc
    May 27, 2009 at 11:55 am — Reply

    I know the feeling, being an immigrant to this country people automatically ask the dumbest questions.

    Western media doesn’t take the time to show all the beauty that one place has. Media tends to dwell on things that will get them ratings. As a Haitian I know this first hand… When people hear of Haitians their first question is ” DO you Do VOODOO” (insert side eye and ignore )

    My country is beautiful, hilly and filled with such glorious memories, yes SOME people practice the craft but just because I come from there doesn’t mean that I do it.

    It is true when they say that ignorance is bliss, but people seriously need to get their info straight.. don’t just go on face value when it comes to certain countries.. there is more than what meets the media’s eye.

  19. K to the...
    May 28, 2009 at 11:30 am — Reply

    Folk are so ignorant!!!

    Ife, you may be a duchess…but remember I’m the Ig Duchess of Juke! Chuuch! lol

  20. Anonymous
    May 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm — Reply

    I thought I was the only Nigerian who heard dumb questions like this.
    I love when they ask if run around camp fires banging on drums butt naked. Abasha!!

  21. Tunde
    May 28, 2009 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    i still deal with a lot of these questions now. most times i just give them the o_O face.

    in undergrad one of my friends had the audacity to tell me that africa was a country and nigeria was a state. :-|

    another friend of mine in dental school tried to tell me that in nigeria is at least 105 degrees year round (he’s never been to africa). also when i tried to explain to him that in some parts of america it can get hotter than africa he didn’t believe me.

    ignorance is bliss i guess.

  22. OneChele
    May 28, 2009 at 5:08 pm — Reply

    From last week at a happy hour. Brotherman rolls up and lays down his game- “Hey, are you from Puerto Rico?”

    “Uh, no.”

    “You look Puerto Rican.”

    “Well, my dad was from Guyana.”

    “Like South America?”

    “Yes, that would be where Guyana is.”

    “Is your mother from Puerto Rico?”

    Deep sigh, resisting the rolling of the eyes, “No. No one is from Puerto Rico.”

    “Huh, so South America. Did you grow up near the Amazon? Jungles and stuff?”

    “If the Amazon runs through Downtown Dallas, sure.”

    “Oh, Texas huh? Did you have horses and stuff?”

    Me, throwing up hands and running away. Co-signing with K above, folks is ignorant.

    • July 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm — Reply

      I love reading these artciels because they’re short but informative.

  23. amymay
    May 30, 2009 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    @ OneChele- iDied @ “Oh, Texas huh? Did you have horses and stuff?”

    Ol’ boy didn’t miss a beat! LMAO

  24. […] *Africa is Geography’s DMX – Africa gets a bad rap, so I set some things straight. […]

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