By Silas Nyanchwani
Africans living in the United States can be a tad boring and exasperating when talking to their relations back in Africa. There is a patronizing, pessimistic tone they have about the continent that can be vexing and it takes a specially rehearsed patience to handle their routine hours’-long calls to their former relatives and former friends.
They loathe everything back home. The politics (so stupid and shallow, infiltrated by the thieving types-true), the traffic (does everything ever get done? Yes, a lot), security (is it safe to pick a call in the streets? Will I be mugged?) and many nonsensical questions that make an ass of those who daily eke a living in Africa.
Something happens to Africans when they live abroad for some time. In my estimation, if one lives in the Western societies for more than five years, they become irredeemable. They become the worst Afro-pessimist. It has something to do with the sustained exposure to the country where systems work, to a fashion.
Western societies afford immigrating Africans a convenient life that most Africans rarely experienced in their home countries. It is easy to get overly cushy in such a system and over time learn to hate the mediocrity back home. When you discover such systems are run by human beings, it baffles one why Africans back home can’t get it right in fixing simple things like traffic, security, school and health care. Feeling helpless, the only choice is to become an armchair critic, telling those living back home to escape at the first opportunity to whichever country they wish.
Africans living in the West always have solutions to all African problems if anyone cares to listen. They can get overly melodramatic, showy and annoying when they break the law back home and want to be treated differently. They feel on top of the food chain. In some corrupt countries, such as Kenya where a simple bribe can get you off the hook of a traffic offence, they normally take such an opportunity to lecture an ignorant policeman about the American policing and judicial system, and it can get comical with their self-righteousness.
We know, they want the best for their countries, no doubt. They want to bring their best learned practices to their countries, to pull their countries out of poverty, diseases and illiteracy. But there is sufficient evidence that even those schooled in Ivy League institutions, revert back to type when they are given management positions back at home. But this cognitive dissonance is understandable.
The Swahili have a saying, ukiona vyalea jua vimeundwa, which loosely translates to, if you see something shining and glittering, just know someone put in the work. The western societies are a product of centuries of development, chequared by war, conquest, colonization, and a lot of resilience for every setback. Africa had a different historical trajectory that slavery and colonization changed, for better or for worse. The unenviable state that most African countries find themselves in is both a product of colonization, the cold war and the forces of globalization.
Yet there is every reason to be optimistic. Many global players in trade are setting up shop in Africa in renewed interest and their numbers show that the dividends are paying off. More and more Africans are trooping back and they are setting up businesses worthy millions and leading more productive, less demanding lives, than they lead in the West.
But there is a segment that is still stuck up in the West, without any dreams of ever settling back, and if they would, they could ship every member of their extended families to the West.
Unbeknownst to our brothers and sisters in the West is that the Western Civilization is on the decline and there is a new world order that is organically coming to place and only a war or a large-scale catastrophe that can alter the course the world will take in the next century or millennia. Asia and Africa have by far more promising prospects than the Western societies. In fact, Africa’s prospects have never been better.
Only Africans indulge in the self-hatred, and such vulgar pessimism about their continent, rather than remain hopeful like the Jewish and the Irish diaspora who support their mother countries, through thick and thin. The support need not just be financial, but cultural too. For the Africans in the diaspora who have hope in Africa and invest in the continent, thank you. For the pesky critics, it is time to style up or shut up.
The 1.2 billion who stay in Africa do make a living daily, the mediocre standards you loathe so much, notwithstanding. Your complaints may be valid, to an extent, but if you are not part of the solution, just live your life quietly in the West where systems work and where your life is easier as you like it. Leave us alone.