Once in a coffee bar with an Italian lady friend of mine, I had ordered coffee just like she did. To my amazement the bartender brought back cappuccino ( a mixture of coffee and milk). He uttered something in the native Sardo dialect and sauntered off. My lady friend didn’t want to make a scene. She politely told me to forget the drink and we walked out. While driving home, she told me that the bartender was miffed by her association with me and offered me cappuccino being that our offspring would be a mix of black and white should we become sexually procreative.
By my discussions with them during my sojourn, I found out that their views were mainly formed by what they had heard from people and the media. Africa was painted black just because we are black. They see poverty stricken lands in war torn zones on their TV perennially. Added to this are the towering statistics of crimes that have emanated from such regions. And so they believe. To them, poverty is synonymous with blackness.
I have many “no thanks” to dish out. No thanks to the Western media that continually amplifies the dark parts of the Dark Continent. No thanks to missionaries who always painted Lucifer in black colours in our children’s color Bibles.No thanks to our cerebral minds who shine their teeth while receiving awards after speeches laced with “This one has shown he has been emancipated by rising above his mates in Africa.”
Bringing this a bit homeward, how many times do you hear the Igbos call the Yorubas “ofe mmanu” (oily soup)? Or our mothers swear over their dead bodies their sons won’t marry someone from another tribe. Don’t we miff at the Lebanese folks we work with in our multinational companies or gawk at the sleepy eyes of the Chinese or regard all Italians as mafiosos just because we filled our brains with scenes from The Godfather. We could regale our friends with stories about people outside our boundaries by what we saw on TV while we haven’t stepped a foot beyond our enclaves. Are we any different from the many Zimmermans of this world?
When the mind latches onto these narratives, it’s difficult to extricate it from their grips. It’s a struggle. Somehow we are all culpable.