Week 4: Vox Commentaries: Being Black or African | ACEworld

by OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo

Being black or African. Surprising, right? Before writing this article, I had to ask few friends what they thought of it. “Are you black or African?” I asked? Many of them found this weird, pretty much something not to think of? It gets confusing. Some are black and African; black but not African; then African but not black. What exactly makes them: their mentality, colour, accent, environment, mode of interaction, health, race etc.? How does a black man think, eat, write, talk, relate and view things from a perspective. Does an African do same or find a different route easier to explore?

Let me make it easier; from experiences and activities, I have come to realise that a black man is one who is defensive; not in, not out; always trying to fit into everything, everyone and every place. He does not get satisfied; needlessly wanting to get what he’s got better. He gets to see a white man, runs off to bleach even when the melanin is magical. He hears them speak and he thinks they sound better. So, they make their voice go up and down and leaves it with some dangling intonation. They find it difficult to live or race through inferior complexities, try to avoid frightening and suppressing laws by tolerating their {self-developed} mental low personality. He is never perfect. Everything and issue baffles/surprises him. Even when it had occurred.

I find it quite comical when my friends give different reactions/attitudes to colours. Ask me how. They see a black-coloured skinned person and they go on with their discussion; giving no attention to their presence and are less concerned about their business. When a different colour comes, they go all hay-wired. ‘Mad oh! Did you see her skin? It is clearly different from the man’s. Do you remember the man we saw last week? I touched his hair! (Everyone giggles). Their skin is like foam; they call pepper ‘their death’; find the local drum, ‘gangan’, an interesting musical instrument’.  When a coloured {mixed race} appeared, it becomes an adventure and amusement to realise that colours successfully get mixed.

The black man is practically and emotionally insecure. He cares less for the unknown and seeks for a platform to stage his indifference- not to be lesser than he should be but be greater or perhaps, higher than he should get termed. A black man is greater than his potential but does not deem it right to pursue them. He knows what is right but follows the rule/norm. He knows that the abnormality of situations and acts leads to a distinct form of success; yet, he follows the path of normality. Yeah! You got that right. Colour does not determine your blackness; you mentality does.
And now, African. He cares but acts as though, it is not his business. He says, ‘I am African; I am different. That does not stop me from being human.’ So he goes off to live his life like it does not matter-the colour, race, mentality, race, health, or environment etc. He is cool with everyone; tolerates no nonsense; and would treat everyone equally even when he is seen as the inferior one and should require the special attention. He fits into every caucus; community, team and industry. He does not take life as it comes; he determines it.   
Funny, a friend of mine and I had a {needless to say} discussion as regard his mental shift. A German colleague of ours had asked if I write for blogs and magazine. He said, ‘erm yeah! She writes for press organisations. Do you know what press organisations are? {She continues to stare} Well, they are like…you know…in universities here in Nigeria, we have various press clubs where they write different things. And I am like {in my thought}, ‘okay must you explain? My friend, looking confused tried to further explain and defend his act said, ‘well, they probably do not have such. ‘So, Juliet, do you have press organisations in your Hochschule {secondary school}? She replied, ‘yes of course, we do’. She later claim to have a lot of difficulties while speaking to Nigerians, as they talk too fast. Now there are two problems:
  1. Blacks who form fake accents and try to speak too fast even when our slow motion is way too fast for them.
  2. Blacks who try to explain and re-explain while giving too many confusing details; even when the situations are all the same.
So, someday, I got into an argument with a German on marriage as an important institution in Africa. At first, he tries to understand what exactly we were arguing about; he listens to both sides and choses the most supported. Next thing is, this dude begins to rant, ‘is it written on the head? Is it placed on the head? If it isn’t; than it is irrelevant!’ Chill, I am going somewhere. Another time, we had another African discussion and baba {the German dude} was siding African. After he travelled back, a few of us decided to talk about our experiences with him. We realised that he was way too insincere and tried not to feel racist. He is Black. He is bias; trying to fit into everything and not wanting to offend anyone. He let go of himself and took on the veil of pretence. That’s black; not African.

Tell two men -black and African men- a child got killed today. They would both scream in alarm. Narrate to them a similar event the following week. The black man would say, ‘again! Why is life so wicked? The African would stay indifferent and say, ‘as usual! So now, what can we do?
So, when next you think of who you are, black or African. Remember, it is never about the colour, hair type, country or race. It is about you; who you are; how you think; how you react to situations; your values and your self-made rules; how you relate with people; what you hope to achieve and how you achieve them.

OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo  | ACEworld
OLAYIWOLA Faith Adedolapo writes from Ibadan. She raps in literary forms. Her write-ups have been featured on several magazines and online platforms. She can be reached via:
Phone number: 08100049733

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