African American hip hop artist Nas, responded to a question in 2008: Why don’t African-American Hip-hop artist perform in Africa. His response is one that we all need to pay close attention to in order to move forward and united.
“Let’s go straight to it. People are scared, there’s horror stories about Africa that is out of the world…there’s horror stories that scared people from going to Africa before hip-hop was around”, Nas.
Does this stigma of fear about going to Africa still exist amongst many African-Americans and the African Diaspora?
There was a time when we all believed almost everything we heard through the media. We can agree that the old media such as newspaper and TV played a major role in polluting our minds with stereotypes and fear that has separated us for years. But with the existence of social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, one can only make an assumption that the fear and negative perception that has kept many African-Americans from going to Africa would have been reduced by far, but is that REALLY so?
Millions of pictures, music and videos are uploaded on the internet daily by individuals living in Africa, exposing the other side of Africa which is beautiful and welcoming. However the horror images are still embedded in the memories of many African-descendants living in the diaspora. This got me thinking about how much damage this had caused inside us African American? We have a serious problem at hand, a psychological battle which continuous to haunt us and separate us Africans and African-Americans regardless of how much we try to get close to each other. A battle that we have not come out triumphant yet, a battle we have to uproots from the bottom up. Just us Nas clearly stated “one thing about us African-Americans and Africans,we do not communicate ,we don’t talk, we do not see a reason to talk”
“Africans don’t like African-Americans at all, they look down upon us, they got their own little racial names for us” this strong statement is commonly stated among many of us African-Americans even to the unknown individual who has not come in contact with an African living in Africa. Ironically when it comes to us Africans living in America, a similar statement is visible: “African-Americans dont like Africans, they look down upon Africans and call us all sorts of names”. Sometimes it does feel as if we of African descent are still cursed with slavery; Slavery of the mind, slavery of separation from each other, slavery with the idea that we are better than the other brother or sister. We are lost and need to remind ourselves that WE ARE ONE PEOPLE, ONE FAMILY, from ONE AFRICA, plain and simple. It is time we come together to acknowledge each other and help develop each other. No one is going to do that right for us but ourselves.
African-Americans need to start seeing Africa as home and make it an effort to visit Africa, preferably with an African friend and not just as a tourist to overcome the fear and feel at home. Africans living abroad need to make it an effort to be more open and engaging outside their communities as their actions also represent Africans living in Africa. However, I will be clear about this, Africa is a huge continent and not a country and people have various cultures and beliefs so we can not judge a whole continent or even a country based on an experience with another. Every year I have made it an effort to take someone home with me to Ghana-Africa so that they can experience what they never knew,”Home”. I dare you that when you come to Africa not as a tourist you will leave Africa knowing in your heart that you have a home and a family in Africa.
It was very pleasing to hear Nas say that outside his music career he went to Africa for his birthday. African-American artists that come to Africa spend a day or two ought to try and stay a bit longer to explore home. The make money fast, strictly business, no connection with the motherland, peace out and bounce mentality upsets me because they are the voice that we the people listen to and follow. And if the voice can’t see then what can it say. For the entertainers that take full advantage of their trip to Africa and stay longer, tend to be those that get touched to do more such as Isaiah Washington, Ludarcris, Alicia Keys, 50cents and Jayz.
In an ideal world, every individual would have an opportunity to visit African and make their own judgement on the continent. Unfortunately, this isn’t the world we live in and the majority of individuals based their perception of Africa from what they see and listen from the media. It’s time for the media to take responsibility, speak the truth and for individuals to educate themselves to know the difference between true reality and what is not.