Thursday, January 17, 2008
I am reading a book entitled Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis Keim and in this post I will be posting some quotes from the book that I think I will have to share with you esteemed blog readers:
1. [Page 5]
A recent survey (1999) by a major American museum on popular perceptions of Africa found out many misconceptions such as the following: Africa is just one large country; Africa is all jungle; Africans share a single culture, language and religion; Africans live in "grass huts"; Africans mainly hunt animals for their subsistence; and Africa has no significant history.
2. [Page 7]
During much of [our] history, racism and exploitation of Africa have been considered acceptable to a large majority of [our population]. Although we never ruled colonies in Africa, [we] did enslave Africans and maintain both a slavery system and segregation. Moreover, we profited from our businesses in Africa, sent missionaries to change African culture and did not protest the colonization undertaken by Europeans. This exploitation of Africa, whether direct or indirect, required thinking about Africans as inferiors...The legacy is obvious in the words and ideas that we call to mind when we hear the word Africa...
3. [page 8]
We also perpetuate negative myths about Africa because they help us maintain dominance over Africans...Whereas in the past, the myth of the racial inferiority of Africans was the major justification for [our] control of Africans, now cultural inferiority is a more likely reason. Our news media are more likely to inform us about African failures than African successes. And the successes we do hear about tend to demonstrate that our own perspectives on reality are correct. [Some]... describe Africa in ways that justify the importance of their own work [in Africa].
4. Page 15
What is still lacking, however is a serious understanding of how people live currently in Africa. Today, 30 to 40 percent of Africans live in cities and most rural Africans are deeply connected to cities in one way or the other. Why then do the shows we see on television rarely ever show a city scene, a paved road, a farmer producing a crop that will be sold in a town or eventually reach us?...
5. On brain drain in Africa [page 77 - 78]
... Frequently those who gain special, modern skills dissociate themselves from their villages and countries. The "brain drain" of African professionals who emigrate to Europe and America is legendary. Less noticed, but equally significant is the drain of talent from African villages to towns and cities. Even more important in terms of damage done, are those who become westernized and then use their knowledge to exploit ordinary Africans...[the elite?]
I will be adding more quotes as I continue reading the book. I hope they are also providing a moment of reflection in your mind...