AFROPHOBIA – BLACK AMERICANS FEARFUL OF GOING TO AFRICA?
“How many African-Americans do you know actually consider Africa as a vacation spot? Not one… Even just for knowledge, just to know where they came from, just to get an idea of what that is; there is so much fear instilled in them that they wouldn't even want to go there to visit. You mention Africa, they start shaking.” – Akon
Akon is a household name, just not in Africa and America, but in fact he is well known all over the world. He is the sensational musician, a Grammy Award winner and the originator of the Afro-sound beat rap. The Senegalese-American recording artist – musician, songwriter and producer was born in Florida, United States.. Akon is a son of Senegalese immigrant, who has worked and collaborated with many international stars including Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Lionel Richie, P square and many others.
He is not new to controversy and has made quite a few controversial statements in the past. During Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman palaver, in which Martins lost his life, Akon was quoted saying that Africa not America is the acceptable homeland for African Americans. Many people reacted negatively to his statement but that has not stopped him from not making more polemical statements.
In his recent Aljazeera Television interview, he revealed that the central reason why Black Americans did not travel to Africa for vacation spot or pilgrimage is because of fear. He further described the intensiveness of fear by suggesting that at mention of traveling to Africa makes Black American to start shaking outwardly.
We cannot just write-off the statement as usual without digging for the facts and the veracity of Akon's commentary.
Are African Americans really fearful of Africa?
There is no doubt that antecedent enslavement; racism, humiliation, metaphysical manipulation and oppression have left behind a profound psychological damage on the minds of the posterity of American free slaves. When it comes to Africa, the fear of traveling to land of their forefathers is real and can be measured by the traveling metrics to the continent by African Americans. But to further postulate, fear is not entirely the whole story; there other myriad dimensional connotations beyond mundane fear.
It must be high lightened that there are still many African Americans, no matter how small they maybe, that cherish Africa and continue to visit the mother continent. Those ones are not the basis for this analysis and commentary but for the quantifiable majority of the population that are not connecting to their historical heritage.
It is also one dimensional observation to attribute fear as solely a factor for the lack of interest to traveling to Africa by Black Americans. There are multi-dimensional layers can be attributed to distancing from Africa, which may include lack of resources, psychological intimidation, irrational fears, heritage denial and lack of information.
The issues of financial resources are real, it is expensive to travel on a vacation to Africa and the flight ticket is no chicken fee. And many African Americans are still struggling to pay their bills and their disposal incomes are limited for such an extravagant leisure.
It is easier for Black American to say he is traveling to Caribbean, Paris or London, before he even mentioned any city or country in Africa. In most cases when they mentioned traveling to Africa, they first say Egypt. Yes, Egypt is in Africa, but it is not in West Africa from where the enslaved Africans were kidnapped from.
The psychological warfare that subsequently made Black America to abhor Africa was mythlogically organized, fundamental solidified and overwhelmingly dispensed. It was instilled in their minds and psyche to forbid anything Africa. The mass media – news, Hollywood movies, novels and oral traditions were employed and applied to denigrate Africa in the eyes of African Americans.
The so-called mind engineering to negate Africa and assign anything negative to Africa is ceaseless, Africa negation in terms of bombardment of negative news and commentaries are without a break. It continues and continues everyday and whenever an African subject comes up. If you ask any person to do a word association with Africa, the feedback is puzzling, bewilderment and even sickening.
The feedbacks are war, darkness, hunger, famine, disease, depopulation, deforestations, jungle, Ebola, AIDS, primitive, noble savage and many others that the connotations are disaster and hopelessness. Therefore there is nobody in their right minds that would like to associate with such a negativity, imbroglio and calamity.
African Americans in their reaction to such an appalling and negative image of Africa became disengaged, together with apathy, indifference and at worst hatred for Africa that manifested in their actions toward Africa.
Black American limited contact to Africa has also affected their pocket books. They would have gained bountiful returns by investing on the rising and emerging African markets. The athletes and entertainers with adequate disposal income can also invest in crude oil exploration, diamond extraction and African entertainment industry rather than becoming broke and bankrupted at end of their careers.
Jesse Jackson, the prominent Civil Right Activist and one time presidential candidate, was the first person to coin and refer to Blacks as African American. One can say that the nomenclature is most appropriate for Black American because their original root is in the mother land, Africa. The name has made some inroads, but it is still not fully acceptable in the Black community.
The struggle for Black Americans to be made whole cannot be fully achieved until Blacks claim back their lost African heritage. The greatest task for liberation and total emancipation are in the mind and utmost victory must be won in the mind. The most powerful expression of freedom starts in the mind. Therefore mental liberation is indispensable because a “mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
***Emeka chiakwelu Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL.