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two. Questions and Answers

Attitude

I get the impression that Africans are arrogant. Is this true? What is the general attitude or emotions of Africans?

Africa is a whole continent made up of dozens of nations, and millions of families, yet it is obvious that even in a single household, the children are not all of one temperament. In every society, one is likely to find all character types: those who are friendly and those who are hostile, those who are introverted and those who are extroverted, and yes, even those who are humble and those who are arrogant. This is true of Africa also. Whatever the case, Africans are some of the most humble and hospitable people one can find on the face of the globe, and this is virtually a cultural prerequisite. Husbands insist that their wives and children show hospitality to their guests, even in the husband's absence. Accordingly, it is not surprising to hear a husband, even though this is an extreme example, instructing the wife to give even his own meal to their guest should he be away when the guest shows up and to inform him of it later on should he himself end up with nothing to eat. Otherwise, parents passing on this attribute always ask their kids to ensure that at least a glass of water is given their guest if they are completely out of food. Kevin Kertscher shares a similar view of Africa's hospitality for he says of Africans after his solo trip across the Sahara, the Sahel, and the Congo which greatly affected him because of the suffering, isolation and stoicism he encountered: "I had wanted to meet some interesting people along the way, but I had not expected to find smiles and voices and brief friendships that would stand in my mind forever" (247). He later adds of Africans, "... a quiet people who simply want to live their lives without being oppressed by poverty or politics" (255-256). Jonathan Power, on his part, says of Africa and Africans:

I have covered war and revolution in Africa. I have seen political opponents hung from the bridges of the main thoroughfare in Conakry. I have been falsely imprisoned in Sierra Leone. I have lived for months the village life in Lesotho and Tanzania. I walk the streets of Nigerian towns at night (parts, but not all, of Lagos excepted). But I have very rarely been afraid..

Africans are usually the most courteous, hospitable, forgiving and cheerful of all the people I have met on God's earth.

This notwithstanding, if someone tries dealing with Africans with an attitude, especially one of condescension, which is the general disposition towards the continent, especially Africa south of the Sahara, then one will find Africans really combative and even extremely arrogant as a result. So it is a matter of the disposition one displays towards an African, like any other human being, that generates a particular response—humility and friendliness, or arrogance in the other extreme.

Are Africans naturally violent and criminal?

This was one question I could not help wondering what led to it, other than the fact that the general portrait of the black person (especially the men) in the United States is that he/she is potentially violent and criminal. I have always wondered, however, as to how sensible it is to claim that a people can all be good or bad. Whatever the case, I must begin by stating categorically that no, Africans are not naturally violent, nor are they criminal; not in Africa, not anywhere else. Like with every people on the face of the earth, there are those who are violent and others who are criminals in every race or group just as there are good people. In Africa itself, especially during the days when tradition was still virgin, crimes were rare because one's actions and temperament impacted upon one's family as a whole and not just the culprit's. This tendency in society resulted in effectively limiting crime to the barest minimum. However, this might not be the case everywhere else where the black person from Africa has come to find himself or herself today, which he or she refers to as home. In these places, it must be observed though, that it is not the black person's fault that he or she is suddenly being stereotyped as naturally criminal. In the main, it is the fault of the new-found communities which have succeeded largely in frustrating the relevant black population through stereotypical and discriminatory practices. The outcome, in most cases, is the emergence of desperados as members of the victim-race struggle to survive against the odds—nowadays subtle yet effectively—working against them. With such an attitude, it is not surprising that the black person will go to any reasonable length, even if it means getting angry, in an effort to get that which is his simple birthright as a human being. It is this struggle to come across as a human being who is unfairly treated by a prejudiced society that is being intentionally misconstrued and portrayed as being naturally violent. The black person's plight as a victim, for centuries now, is unique. Africans have become very aware of this, be it in Africa or elsewhere, and are willing to die fighting for their God-given rights rather than live an ambushed, abused, exploited, and insulted life on the fringes of society tortured by fear and oppression. No, the African is not naturally criminal; the African is only trying to survive in the face of overwhelming odds imposed on his people—after experiences such as the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and globalization—by humankind.

 
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