Ashamed to Be African

Have you ever been ashamed to be African?
Lion Facepalm

My crew strolled into Gallileos the Friday Ghana lost to Uruguay with our heads hung lowish. We were sad they lost but happy that they could’ve won. So we were there to celebrate and mourn at the same time.

As previously mentioned, I don’t drink and am not a fan of night life either so I’d never been to the aforementioned night club and wasn’t hyped to.

We’d barely made it into the club and found places to stand when my mind stopped drifting and I began to assess all the scantily clad ladies, wondering if they weren’t freezing in their tiny skirts with no undergarments on. Then I noted the foolishly dressed men they were dancing with in overtly sexual manners with additional inappropriate PDA Western influenced intimacy smothered on for taste. In the midst of this recipe of raunch and debauchery, it took me a few seconds of clarity to realize that the song playing was actually some Kikuyu Gospel track.

Jesus Facepalm

There’s a light in which the youth looks at the older generation that is really not flattering to their virtues. We look at their strict moral uprightness as overcautious pretension and abhor it; we view their way of doing things as old school, outdated, obsolete. Yet we take all their vices and extol and exponentiate them; we’ve taken every negative stereotype and raised it to the nth power.

Except n is negative.

Sorry for the Math reference. What I mean is….Whereas our fathers and forefathers were proudly polygamous, we’ve just become inordinately promiscuous without standard. Where they were daily drinkers, we’ve become inordinate druggies and alcoholics(DNAs). Where they enjoyed a good time out, we’ve made it our lives to hanye(coin “Hanyeholic”).

And while we’ve been busy doing all that we’ve strayed so far left from our roots we seem to be part of another tree altogether, a Western one, ironically. We, the African urban youth, future of this fair continent, are more likened to the culturally devoid foreigners we idolize and emulate on television than we are heirs to our fathers and fore fathers. All this in the guise of changing with the times and globalizing. So much so that certain people will be more in tune with the fashions, cultures, music and news abroad than what’s going on in their own backyard.

Now to some degree, I can understand appreciating the culture, arts, and all this: Hell, before I knew the National Anthem in Kiswahili, I had most of Rapper’s Delight and various Lionel Richie albums committed to memory. I’ll take it a step further and say that there are times – many of them – when I’d rather be in Brooklyn. And with good reason, I’ve lived abroad for a while. But in spite of all my love for everything great about every foreign city I’ve been to, I still dial +254 when I call home. I’m proud to be Kenyan, proud to be African, and unapologetically so. There’s nothing wrong with changing with the times and being an “International” citizen.

But one must know which is wife and which is mistress; is your mother Africa and your teacher American or vice versa? Because one gives you supplementary knowledge and escape whereas the other gives you your core morals and essential learnings. It’s hard to know which is which watching some of these kids walking around.

I stood in the club that night, postulating this theory – feeling very glum indeed -when the lady on my arm – a good friend and DR reader – made her way to the dance floor. In those few seconds after she left, another random lady walked up and began talking to me. I only showed a passing interest until she said something that I failed to hear when I told her I had to be in work in the morning.

“What did you say?” I hollered over the bumping – now, Hip-Hop – beats.
“I said I have to go home early too.” She said with an inebriated sneer.
“Oh.” I said and turned away disinterested.
“Yeah, I need to get some sleep before my baby wakes up.”

Baby facepalm

I hoped and prayed to God she was talking about a husband or boyfriend. But she wasn’t. And when I asked who the baby was with she says “Her big sister.”

Not “my big sister” but “her big sister”.

This 20-something lass has 2 kids; both daughters; and this is the example she’s setting for them. Worse still, she felt no shame in admitting it. Now, granted, we all need some time off – parent or not – but I think I have reason to question the parenting skills of an underdressed someone who drunkenly hit on a stranger while her two babies babysat each other.

Then I remembered where I was. For a brief minute, I felt like I was in a ghetto in Atlanta questioning some baby-mama who’d been victim of the disenfranchised naiveté of her people. In reality I was at an upscale club in Kenya talking to someone who had options, had choices and more eerily, had parents. African parents.

I looked around at the what the future holds for this country; promiscuous drunks who spend disgusting amounts of money to fuck-dance to gospel tracks and emulate their American peers in hopes of being cool. Single mothers whose priorities remain themselves and not their children. Men who may be fathers but don’t know and don’t care as they are too busy plotting on the next turkey they’ll be stuffing.

I looked at the future of Africa and saw the present demise of the West. I looked at people who had little pride in their culture and felt ashamed of what I had so avidly defended. I wondered if these were the people I belonged to.

For a few moments there – and everyday since – I felt ashamed to be African.

**Before people get uppity in the comments, I had a lengthy enough conversation with the lady in question to pass the judgment I did. **

18 thoughts on “Ashamed to Be African

  1. Excellent post. Totally agree with your sentiments. Crazy to watch how people are living their lives …. often feel like an outsider in my own country.

  2. iCon, the truth in your words cannot be denied! Right now, I’d have to say watching the Big Brother Africa show and some of the housemates in particular, makes me ashamed to be a Kenyan woman let alone an African one.

  3. First off, I love the pictures!

    I agree with your sentiments, but what makes me even more depressed is the generation of people in their late twenties and early thirties that seem to think growing up is some sort of plague and the only way to avoid it is by living like teenagers.

    The fact that they can keep a job, maybe have a car (which by God’s grace hasn’t ended up under a truck on Langata Rd) deceives them into thinking they have stuff under control. Most are in fact, functional alcoholics.

    Our mothers and fathers had families in their 20s and were responsible enough. I’m yet to hear a father say he wishes he drunk or slept with women more when he was younger, or a mother who wishes she wore shorter skirts.

    Lets grow up people! Growing up isn’t overrated at all.

  4. This article hits the nail on the head. As African youth, we too easily conform to western values rather than those that our Mother’s taught us for the sake of being ‘cool’

  5. Interesting observation.

    There are various ways of analyzing the scenario you put forth. A few questions beg answers:

    1. How representative of the general youth is your club sample? In my view, not very.

    2. On culture lost, well…this is a generation brought up with TV’s as friend, comforter and nanny. Whoever controls the contents controls this generation minds.

    One random observation I have made over the years is that the crazy hard partying chick in her early twenties does a complete 180 in her late twenties. I guess what you witnessed was a rite of passage…in all its animal rawness.

    That’s my 5 cents (adjusted for inflation.)

    • 1. Not representative of the whole, no. But. these are the twenteen year olds that will inherit this country from their parents who own it.

      2. Agreed.

      I’ll take your 5 cents, tax you 18%, donate 15% to your PAYE Health Coverage which you will then have to match and forward an advance of 2 cents to the thought processing department and 30% to the government. You now owe me 2 cents. #TaxesExplained

  6. I have never been able to put a finger on what ails us but it seems to be terminal. We might never recover because if you start from the early thirties then go downwards, it gets worse with this apping the american way of life thing. We are becoming less and less of the people we are, people we used to be, people we should be and more of ….I really cant tell.

    Some times I look around and wonder what would have happened had the ships never docked in the African coastline. Because I want to blame it on western culture but I doubt its all their doing.

  7. Sad. I hear Kenyan chicks, especially in the clubs, behave like hungry hyenas whenever a male specimen walks by. Wedding ring is an aphrodisiac not a hindrance. Meanwhile the men take pride in, and are encouraged to, have as many mpango wa kandos as possible. Not forgetting that this is AIDSville.

    It’s a sad testament to what we have become. We are so busy trying to be anything but ourselves, outdoing the rappers and video hos in the name of being cool that we have become an amoral society with few redeeming qualities.

    Mkosa mila kweli ni mtumwa.

    I always wanted to go back home to stay but it seems more and more that Kenya has little but heartache and crime to offer me.

  8. live and let live bro..seriously though every generation always see the future generations as lost or without generation.You should read the novels written by Europeans and Americans in the 1800s about the children then….yet the best generations where yet to come… relax the beautiful ones are not yet born…but they are on there way..How about make your judgement of the lady and country in about 50 years( 2 generations) and see if your hypothesis holds…for now, let the young folks are only young ones..Trust me, it is going to be OK. Peace and Love and Jah Bless.

  9. whenever all is said and done

    more is said than done.

    A friend has a theory, deterioration of culture started with the loss of native language.

    English is not our native language so most people cannot fully express themeselves using queenspeak.

    Swahili is very native but someone got this great idea to corrupt the language and make it a cool tool for the youth to alienate their parents.

    lets not even get started on individual native languages, urbanites are very proud of not being fleunt in their native languages-whatever they may be.

    if anyone cares to change the flow of this river, learn one langauge and be fluent in it then use it to communicate to your kids. we have a wide array to choose from. Just choose one and run with it.

    as for clubbing, lol, thats just how kenyans want to live. In Dim overcrowed and loud and smelly places

  10. Hapo umenena ukweli wa mambo!

    Someone lied to the youth that being nuts is something to be proud of….something kul. As for the new generation of parents, some think that parenting is giving birth…not nurturing and guiding the child in the way to grow and interact with others.

    At times when I think of the children we are bringing up I get worried because this is a selfish generation bringing up even more self centered children. Our parents believed in sacrifice for the good of the family….this generation cannot even spell sacrifice coz they are the sms generation.

  11. This is an interesting article and I can relate with it in some way as I hail from the southern part of Africa. I am raised in an African society where when I wear my so-called ‘traditional regalia’ people murmur ‘fool fool’ for various rea…sons.

    Interesting and honestly, I believe I truly understand why they’d look down on me when clad in the attire and in such a manner.

    In my society if you wear the traditional regalia, you may be labelled a greedy person, a ‘bootlicker’, etc. I’m led to think that this is simply because the custodians of my society’s culture are people who have done very well in demonstrating that they lack social consciousness as the leaders of a beautiful society. The leaders may be the most responsible group of people for the following result: appalling social and human development issues that have reached ‘crazy levels’… like a tsunami just waiting to erupt! For example: public hospitals that sometimes even run out of pain-killers, an orphaned population of young children that account for about 10% of the population, etc etc!

    Indeed, this so-called Western influence will be more attractive to the younger generation, especially that which is far from it. I must say, it is well presented on the television.

    What you describe in Kenya is actually what happens in my society in southern Africa. What’s funny though in my society when I wear something like a suit or a pair of calvin kleins and go dancing in a club ‘in overtly sexual manners with additional inappropriate PDA western influenced intimacy smothered on for taste’…
    May our great God intervene ASAP!!!

  12. Well, sometimes I think the Kenyan club scene is overrated, too many people just want to look “cool” and its true they ape the west. And now I’m here in North America and I go out to the clubs (sometimes), and it’s even more annoying than back home, cause the people here don’t have goals. It’s all about spending your hard earned cash on rims and booze and ladies.
    Weird how after I read this, I found out my friend who is only 22, was admitted into hospital after his liver and kidneys failed!!! . . . too much drinking and partying;I guess.
    I call it the epidemic of the HANYEHOLIC

  13. And thats why the serious Muslims call it the Great Satan. My view, culture is not static, the youth will always go with what is prevalent as ‘cool’. We let the media fool us that a articular way of behaviour is preferable. People grow out of it, some dont its OK its called life its personal choice.

  14. One word – Phenomenal! That’s what we should be putting in today’s books, not some twisted interpretation of what really is.

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