“All things ‘white’ are beautiful, all creatures great and small…” (Pardon this rephrased version). I can hear this chorus within. In my subconscious it strums a chord that is in tune with the vibrations from young African minds today. The effect of this cuts across nationalities, gender and age differences. In spite of our national and tribal differences, our diverse cultures, traditions, and religions, we still have one belief that strings its way through the entire continent. There is one idea that unites all (And I’m not talking about football). It is the idea that what we see across the ocean is always better! I mean, all things that are ‘White’ are beautiful!!
Western Utopia Mindset
We cannot even feign ignorance of this widespread misconception. It stares us in the face everyday! We exhibit this in our dressing, the way we speak, the way we treat people of colour as opposed to others, and even our choice of brands in the market. Have you ever wondered why so many people decide to walk across the Sahara, risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, just to get to Europe? Most of them have no idea of what they want to do when they get there! Some take up menial jobs that pay very little. They can never tell you how difficult it is to make a living over there. This doesn’t mean some people aren’t making it there, they are! But why would anyone go through all that just to meet with further uncertainty? Some of these people hide behind beautiful Instagram and Facebook pictures that portray a false reflection of their lives. Why not invest that time and effort into doing something useful in your country?
Over here, many of us wear clothes that make us uncomfortable considering our climate and weather conditions. It may look really nice on the outside but nobody can imagine how we feel inside. Yes, there is the idea of being fashionable, but fashion should NEVER come before common sense. Boys on the street wearing head warmers, hooded shirts and thick sweatshirts has become common place in tropical sun-blazing Africa! Some go as far as using scarfs around their necks and wearing gloves, trying to be the prototypes of the images they see on television. (I can understand if its really cold or you’re concealing a scar). The girls have taken skin-whitening as a hobby! Sometimes you may not even recognize your friends! What is it with bleaching your skin and forming ignorance-exuding groups called ‘team light-skinned’? The idea of shamelessly eroding your beautiful, glowing skin colour is a sign of low self-esteem and a misunderstanding of the importance of your pigment! Aside being a sign of intellectual retardation, there are health problems attached to this unacceptable trend! Some of our musicians and entertainers don’t even help matters. They end up endorsing certain Western fashion and lifestyle trends that wipe out our culture and fuel the economy of already developed countries. The second part is the most devastating part of this problem. This is one of the monsters that help expand the gap between our economy and foreign economies.
As much as I would like to blame people for not buying our products and all, I must admit that most of our local products lack the quality that deserves patronage. Our producers like the short-cut mentality. When you decide to support the local market, you get all types of schemes and scams ranging from the most substandard materials given at outrageous prices, to materials that can barely last the ride home so you can come back to purchase more. It might be difficult to break this cycle but it is possible. I have seen a situation where quality was promised, delivered and patronized significantly by our people. The government should not be blamed for everything! We have a role to play and we have to play that role honestly. What do you do when you have to serve people in one way or the other? Do you go about it with a careless attitude? You don’t need anyone monitoring you to do the right thing! Let the change start with the way we see ourselves and our reason for doing things right. The cog in the wheel of African development is this attitudinal change and until we truly desire to be better, all the efforts of our leaders will not measure up to the demands of our society. This problem here has little to do with our leaders and politicians. It has to do with you and I. Change starts with the man in the mirror. Be the change you want to see!!