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Back to Africa

By Bashir Goth - posted Friday, 13 January 2006


In the face of the current xenophobia in Europe against immigration and the mass movement of Africans, the unsuspecting observer may sympathise with the Europeans, justify their angst and look with apathy at the hordes of African immigrants whose dead bodies are washed ashore every day on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.

Looking from such a distance, Europe’s view of the Africans as invading marauders who bring with them nothing but economic burden, primitive culture, crime, diseases, black magic and stinky bodies may seem palatable. Even the stock accusation of Africans being a lazy race who come in their thousands to Europe only to eat, defecate and procreate, does not seem far fetched to the readers schooled in the language of the Western media.

However, a quick and contemplative look at history may turn the picture upside down and show that Europe is behaving like a selfish child who refuses to share his new toys with his unfortunate playmates who shared theirs with them when they had better times.

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It was only a little over 200 years when the Europeans descended on our African continent like locusts. We Africans lived in our dark, inaccessible continent, content with our fruits, our bushes, our animals, and our primitive weapons and wooden utensils.

The Europeans came to us without permission. We let them settle on our soil and prosper. They milked our continent dry; took our mineral resources; taught us to kill our wildlife to satisfy their greed for fur and ivory. They cleared our forests and converted them into cash crop-producing fields for their markets and for their pockets. One may remember the movie, Out of Africa, depicting a woman who owned a large estate, a farm and dozens of servants and farm workers. They came to Africa as paupers and returned to Europe strapped with cash, dripping with honey, sporting leather jackets and ivory jewellery and glamorous titles as explorers, governors, writers and historians of eminence on exotic Africa.

We Africans were lean people, always running, hunting, gathering fruits and fleshy roots, our women travelling miles to fetch water and firewood, our children looking after livestock in valleys and mountains and surviving the whole day on wild fruits. The Europeans taught us to build villages, and towns and permanent farms and adapt to a sedentary life. Our men became lazy; they got used to sitting in the white man’s offices all day and forgot about walking and running. Our women learned to sit in four-walled houses and forgot about the laborious, calorie-burning daily trips to distant wells and woods. In the process we gained weight. We were happy; we thought we had finally learned the European ways. We frowned on our lean brothers and sisters. We took thin children to shamans and doctors and began giving them vitamins to fatten them.

Then the Europeans who hate to be associated with the African look told us fatness was a sign of poor nutrition and less activity. They started adopting our habits of running, walking and jogging. However, in Africa we were running to earn our living but the Europeans are running in order to recover their health: the health they saw in Africa and deprived us of. Now, they tell us their thinness is healthiness, while our thinness is sickness.

In Africa, our clans fought over water, pasture and ownership of animals, but we knew also how to reconcile and make peace between us. Our elders were experts in making peace. A council of elders from both clans met under a tree and resolved all issues. Now Europe has turned our wars and our reconciliation process into a profit-making industry. The Africans can no longer reconcile among themselves, the white man has to do it for them.

Well, how else will all the thousands of Europeans who work for the UN bodies and NGOs find employment if their governments do not outsource African wars. In the old days, we used our traditional weapons and the most prolific fighter could kill only few persons in a battle. A battle that lasted for weeks including night raids claimed not more than two dozen dead. Now with the AK machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades mounted on fast-running trucks, one man can kill hundreds in a day.

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In our Dark Continent days, we mostly died of natural causes. Famines, droughts and diseases had checked our continent’s population. We didn’t see these calamities as enemies. Malaria was just a natural thing that happened to people like rain, sun and night. We had our remedies to treat our sick. But if one of us died of malaria, was killed by a lion or struck by lightening, it was just a natural death. This is why our continent’s population remained lean for thousands of years and resources were abundant.

The Europeans, however, brought us medicine. They taught us that disease was not a natural phenomenon and we had to fight it. We believed them and gave medicines to our sick ones. They prolonged our lifespan, our populations increased. But our resources decreased not only because we now had more people to feed but also because Europeans had robbed our continent of all good things, and when they left us they left their umbilical cords intact; some cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, diamond other mining businesses that fatten their pockets, confectionary shops and beauty parlours.

With resources dwindling and population increasing, Africans resorted to one of their old habits of survival "following the rain and greener pastures". But when they reached the shores of Europe they were surprised that the white man they had hosted over hundred years in their countries, who had taken everything on their soil in plenty and still takes it, refused to accept them. In Africa, if a girl loses her virginity in a rape, the rapist has to take her as his bride or has to compensate her family handsomely. Africa has lost its virginity to Europe and expected to be taken home as a bride or be compensated for her shattered pride, but the Europeans saw her as a whore who allowed a stranger to have his way with her so willingly.

Forlorn and heart-broken by the white man’s ingratitude, we Africans may have only one option available to us; to shut our gates and stop European tourism and peace-keeping regiments pouring into our borders. We have to reclaim our Dark Continent’s old ways and status. Granted diseases like malaria and European-brought plagues like Aids and even TB will kill millions, but our population will be less, the land will regain its greenery and beauty, trees will bear fruits again, rains will be plenty; and with leaner population, we will have sufficient resources and we will be at peace with our wildlife. We will no longer fight for European markets and will throw away the modern beads of slavery, such as cell phones, television sets and other luxuries.

We will remove all the white man’s vestiges such as borders and land ownership; and just like the old days, we will move around the continent and let our animals graze wherever the rain falls and pastures abound. We will die and be buried in our soil and our bloated bodies will no longer be washed on foreign beaches.

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First published in the Khaleej Times on January 2, 2006.



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About the Author

Bashir Goth is a Somali poet, journalist, professional translator, freelance writer and the first Somali blogger. Bashir is the author of numerous cultural, religious and political articles and advocate of community-development projects, particularly in the fields of education and culture. He is also a social activist and staunch supporter of women’s rights. He is currently working as an editor in a reputable corporation in the UAE. You can find his blog here.

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