Not African Enough in Africa

by Demetria L. Lucas

When I was 10 or so, my father won an all-expense paid trip to Senegal. “We’re going to Africa!” my mother gleefully exclaimed. So we took the Amtrak train to New York to fly out of JFK and ignored the warnings of a pending Nor’easter, thinking the sheer and desperate determination of three Black Americans to make it to Africa would hold off the worst of the snow until we were airborne.

It didn’t. New York City was shut down for three days, and by the time the airports opened, it didn’t make sense to fly out. We pushed the trip back indefinitely, and never made it. And so began my obsession with Africa, the place my even-tempered mother spoke of like it was some sort of Disneyland for Black people.

Some Black Americans, and I’m referring mostly to those that call Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina their “Old Country,” tend to be awe-struck at the idea Africa, like Nas at the end of Belly. Once we get a full picture beyond what we’re taught in school, where the largest continent and birthplace of all mankind is reduced to being the starting point for the Atlantic Slave Trade, there becomes an eagerness to migrate back across the Atlantic. The yearning is not unlike some immigrants who seek entrance to American shores. Except we’re not seeking the opportunities and streets of gold that Fievel and his family expected; we’re seeking the “home” that the Middle Passage erased.

I get why. For many American Blacks, the overall American experience has never really felt like a place where you can kick up your feet and recline all the way back. You get moments where that happens, of course, but then you also get a startling awakening— like when people are surprised you don’t have any children out of wedlock, or you happen to be “so articulate,” or despite carrying a purse while you shop, you find yourself explaining “No, no, actually I don’t work here.” Those things remind you not to get too comfy. America is home in the sense of being the devil you know, a bit like a stereotypical step-child, the one you tolerate but don’t really love like your own.

In recent weeks those feelings have surfaced again for many who struggle to make sense of the injustice of Trayvon Martin’s killer walking around freely, the ignorance displayed in conservative columnist John Derbyshire’s piece for The National Review where he wrote of advising his children to avoid Black folk, and the obnoxiousness of those Twitter-racists who found outrage in a sympathetic book character being Black or Awkward Black Girl landing the Shorty Award for best web-series. I find, similar to Cinderella, we dream of an escape to a place where we fit, like a glass slipper on the correct foot. For me, that place was Africa, any country, any part.

  • CHE

    Youre overthinking it…..Africa is yours- if you want it to be….just like any other place on the planet…you are human -you can thrive anywhere any other human beings do.

  • Yeahright2011

    I saw a mini doc about 1s gen Asian Americans living in China. They got that same treatment. Same for Italian Americans in Italy. South Africa where our ancestors come from anyway so its okay to approach it like you would Japan or the UK.

  • Yeahright2011

    I saw a mini doc about 1s gen Asian Americans living in China. They got that same treatment. Same for Italian Americans in Italy. South Africa isn’t where our ancestors come from anyway so its okay to approach it like you would Japan or the UK.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I feel very American when I visit Haiti, especially not being fluent in the language, but here I don’t quite 100% fit in as well…It doesn’t bother me really but that’s because I never expected to fit in a country that I wasn’t born nor raised in. I appreciate the differences and similarities and keep it moving.

  • Tea Baby

    I have to agree, we are people of the world. And with that, maybe we should learn to speak languages along side English. My son speaks Japanese and French. Made me pursue learning French and improving my Spanish speaking skills.

  • Pema

    Why would you expect to fit into a culture that is not yours? Because the people have the same skin-color?

  • anne

    I completly understand how the author feels. I’m nigerian but have grown up in the UK all my life. When I visit nigeria I feel completely out of place. I don’t even have to open my mouth and people know I’m not a native. My mother (who still lives there) even got into a huge arguement with a few women on the street because they didn’t like the fact that I was “imposing” on their territory. Nigerians don’t accept me as a nigerian, british people don’t accept me as british -its a catch 22!

  • http://museandwords.com NinaG

    Being West African but born in the states, I can relate.
    In my last trip “home”, I literally decided not to give a fuck about other people opinions of who I am.
    People create arbitrary lists of what is/what ain’t so they can play a game of hierarchy and come out on top.

  • Isis

    I wont judge Africa by actions of some in south africa a place thats very westernized. No desire to go there. I wanna go to west africa where its still very african. Next

  • carole

    Totally normal and relatable. Do not take it personally. I am of Rwandan origin living in Uganda. My first visit to Kigali, i imagined i would instantly fit in. I am as tutsi as they come, tall, and with sharp features that make me look like president Kagame is my father. I even speak Kinyarwanda although not as well as the locals, but well enough. But as soon as i started to blend in, i realized it felt alien. Where as i was not offended by that, it came as a huge surprise.

  • http://museandwords.com NinaG

    Being West African but born in the states, I can relate.
    In my last trip “home”, I literally decided not to give a fuck about other people’s ideas of who I am.
    People create arbitrary lists of what is/what ain’t so they can play a game of hierarchy and come out on top.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Excuse me?! You are going to generalize/judge a whole continent, based on your ONE South African experience. The tittle should have read, not African enough in South Africa!

    The lady that spoke to you with “disdain” only did so, because a lot of kids are now embracing the English language, foregoing their mother tongue. In essence, forgetting their culture and seemingly embracing the West. The roll of eyes was coming from a good place oo!———-> and no, I was not in her head to know exactly what she was thinking, BUT you will get a lot of those-

    I would roll my eyes too if I read this! It drips of uppitiness. When in Rome do as the Romans do-it ain’t that hard!

  • La

    This “aticle” is ridiculous. What was the point really? Did you expect to be made a queen mother? Maybe you were feeling ou of place and so FOUND a way to be made to feel out of place with her “disdain”. “my American-ness was announced long before I opened my mouth.” Uppity Syndrome. “the way I dressed” WHAT were you wearing tha they have never seen? ugh. I typically like your work but when it comes to foreign matters you end to act like “i’m so cultured” but really, going to brunch, essence festival and studying abroad isn’t culture. You may have stamps in your passport but far from cultured.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    I just read your comment and started singing.

    *Jesus is the answer for the world today, above there is no other.*………..>random, I know!

  • rd

    this was so short-sighted and ignorant. 3 weeks in south africa of all places and you feel qualified to speak on not being “african” enough. seriously? so now dude from a spike lee movie has the final word? how about you travel extensively first? how about you focus on connecting to the place? africa is not panacea for those of us who are of the diaspora but you experience can be what you make it. adjust your attitude and your expectations. tell the women dishing out disdain not to assume you speak her language but ask if her she cares to share the name and to learn about black people from outside her world. geez.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^THHHHHHHHHHHHHISSSSS!!!!!

  • la

    Gloray! People really think stepping on foreign soil for a monh gives them the authority to speak foolishly. She went and drank mimosas, took pictures and ate seafood but has so much o say about her “experience”. Try again, Miss Lucas.

  • Tarupiwa Of Zimbabwe.

    Fortunately I am in Africa right now. Never come to Africa with an attitude. We have had enough attitudes from whites who came, colonised us and tried to treat us with disdain, with all their racist tendencies. We fought the white and everything that has to do with them. We stand very tall and equal to whites including their cultures. So, when one of our kind comes here with a whitish hangover – we take serious exception. Our kids, because of media and tv are franticaly trying to be more western cultured than the west. When next you visit Africa be human and humble, be friendly and accomodating. We are still in Africa here. We were robbed not only of our dignity, integrity and rights to self determination and actualisation. Yes, we have pleanty of work to do, building ourselves and countries in the face of a global economy and its dictates. Come to Zimbabwe, we will give you your own farm and probably a diamond mine. We simply lack capital but we are spirited enough to take our destiny into our own hands. And, we never apologise we are Africans; very proud and very capable. If you come next – we can take you hunting, sleeping in the bush with lions roaring – thats Africa. And, we are the people. Africa was partioned, shared amongst Europen countries. Sons and daughters taken as slaves to the Americas. So when you come back , you are one of us. But, never give us your erstwhile slavemasters’ attitude. [email protected]

  • apple

    Because you are American, only of African descendant,that’s why you don’t fit in. As much as I would love to live elsewhere I know I’m more American then my desire to leave for good. And you never realize how american you are, til you leave . However if you with go the expectation that you are going to become a native just because you have old roots or look like a group of people there ,you will be disappointed.

  • Djuobah

    +1.

  • steve

    very good job sister, you hit the nail on the head on why i dont believe in the term African-american. It not because mama africa is not your ancestral home or they hate on black american (please) , but because you have been in america over 200-400 years. I was raised in both america and the caribbean but to everybody back “home” im american, because of the way I talk, I dress, the little things I do and how i do it.

    Thats reality nothing wrong with it

  • Djuobah

    PREACH!!! “going to brunch, essence festival and studying abroad isn’t culture. You may have stamps in your passport but far from cultured”…I will have to use that on many of my “cultured” friends. SMDH.

  • steve

    Same here Im from Barbados, I have duel citizenship , I even own land. But in everybody eyes even my family. im American first because I didnt go to school there and experience life there on daily basis.

    The author is in no way is putting down Africa or south africa she is pointing out a simple truth. No matter how black you are when you set foot on africa you are viewed as American or British FIRST!!

  • Kayla

    You all have really missed the message of this article because of your own ignorance.

  • riri

    Anne, Steve, I hear you! Born in East Africa, have spent nearly all my life in the UK, I will always be seen as British whenever I travel back. Used to annoy me at first but just used to it now!

    Why on earth are people calling the author ‘uppity’? Urgh – horrible, horrible, language

  • George

    I’ve experienced this – going back to my parents’ homeland (Jamaica) and being called ‘English’ everywhere I went. That not-your-culture shock happens when you don’t know that just because you have roots in a certain place, and look like everyone else (it was my first time, aged 13, in a majority black country), it’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted as one of them.
    You’ll be accepted in your own way, on their terms, for who you are… just not as a native. You’re not one, no matter what your genetics or family tree tell you. Accept that, and you’ll be fine.

    Sidebar: even though I’m born and raised in the UK, Amsterdam is one of the few places I’ve felt totally accepted and at home – because it’s a very mixed city and I look like I’m Dutch Caribbean. Oh, the irony…

    I guess it shows that, especially for those of the diaspora, ‘home’ isn’t really where we expect it to be. So go where you’re going without expectation.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/2012/04/toure-and-piers-in-boxing-ring.html R Kahendi

    I love this! You hit the nail right on the head. The “Africa” of mythology exists in the abstract. The real Africa… a totally different story. No one can really claim an identity as broad and abstract as “African” and expect it to go unchallenged. Believe you me, if I took my East African self to Western or Southern Africa, I would feel every bit as foreign as you did. And I would be reminded that I didn’t belong by somebody or something, every single day. I often read “treatises” on pan-Africanism by Nigerian and Ghanaian and Senegalese thinkers which, quite frankly, are their own projections of what it means to be African and have little to do with my corner of Africa. African Americans too have their own ideas of what being African is that are projections of their specific experiences.

    For Africans, as for other people globally, identity is often localized. We come from specific nations, ethnicities, cities and villages. It is only rarely that I hear Africans speak of coming from “Africa” or going back home to “Africa.” When they do so, they are typically speaking to an American audience or happen to have roots in more than one African nation.

  • erigirl

    Just as a White American with roots in Ireland can’t expect to go back there and be embraced as a local, neither can Black Americans. I understand the strong desire to re-connect with one’s roots and origins, but it needs to be in a different way. As many others have attested, even those of us with direct connections to an African country but have grown up in the Diaspora aren’t perceived as ‘locals’, and rightly so. We don’t live there and we don’t live their day-to-day lives; but we’re still of both worlds, dual-nationals, ex-pats, returnees, Afropolitans, what have you. The same way that a new African cosmopolitanism has developed, so too can a new relationship with Africans and brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. We shouldn’t be trying to discourage the development of these ties by throwing accusations of being ‘ignorant’ or ‘uppity’ at the author. Rather, Black Americans, Africans at home, and those of us in between, should be looking at ways to build and strengthen these ties. The next time you’re visiting home, invite along an American friend that’s interested in visiting the continent. They get to have an amazing experience, and you get to take your BFF as your travel-buddy.

  • http://museandwords.com NinaG

    Being West African but born in the states, I can relate.
    In my last trip “home”, I literally decided not to care about other people’s ideas of who I am.
    People create arbitrary lists of what is/what ain’t so they can play a game of hierarchy and come out on top.

  • Just Me

    I understand how you feel. I’m an American black woman who has travelled to several many times to Africa. In my opinion, it’s all in what you expect. If you expect Africa to be some sort of black utopia, you’re going to be sadly disapointed. Africa (especially South Africa) has it’s share of racial issues, even within the black race. No matter where you go in Africa, you will always be looked at as a foreigner. You’re NOT going to blend in, so get that out of your head and you will be more open to what Africa really has to offer.

    Even though I stand out like a sore thumb every time I’m in Africa, I still love going. I still feel wamth from the people there, and feel honored to be able to connect with such a distant part of my culture. You just have to take it for what it is.

    Although South Africa is beautiful and much more western-friendly than most of Africa, I found much more “connection” in west Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Liberia. Not the most affluent countries, that’s for sure. But we share much more history with them than we do with many other parts of Africa. Go visit the slave castles in Ghana, Sierra Leone, or Senegal and see if it doesn’t move you. Listen to the similarities between Sierra Leonean Krio and American Creole and see if you’re not amazed.

    For a black American in Africa, you need to approach it with an open mind, know that you are NOT going to blend in, but be open and genuine. Do that, and you will fall in love with the continent, like I did.

  • http://www.angstandhumor.blogspot.com Shiks

    Where to start?

    If as an African woman,I came to America,would you embrace me for being your long lost sister separated by slavery?

    You went to a country that had their first black president in 1994 and used that as your measuring stick? SA is great,but welcoming African village it isn’t.

    Why should they care about you? Would you care about them if they were visiting Brooklyn?

    African Americans need to let go of this notion that Africa is your mother and you are her long lost child. Africa did not stop moving on because you were taken from us. We kept advancing,fighting,living. If life didn’t stop when you left,why should it when you return?

    News flash. There isn’t a monolithic African identity,just like there isn’t a singular black experience.The problem isn’t that you aren’t African enough,just that you had pre conceived notions of what that meant. Africa isn’t the problem,you are.

    I could say a whole lot more,but then Clutch would have to pay me. This is an extremely myopic article that needs a rebuttal from an African

  • la

    I’ll take being ignoant-we all are sometimes. I was born inGhana and moved to America at ten. Went back and lived for four years of highschool. I’ve goten the ” you are not Ghanaian” “Your wi is not correct” etc but I woulde NEVER say any of it was said with disdain. I say I am Ghanaian but I KNOW my short stint doesnt culturally MAKE me Ghanaian.Define who/what you are don’t think because you stepped foot somewhere you will be looked at as ” Oh look at this open minded American. She is one of our own” I have a white girlfriend who was interested in visiting africa but wanted the full experience–no brunch and typical tourist trips. What did she do? She STAYED with a Ghanian family, she cooked, cleanded, washed like the “average” African. Belle went to Sa and talked about how Brooklyn, Miami SA was..ha! on her first few days she complained about lack of power/cell phone/technology. When I travel I want to EXPERIENCE LIFE. I can eat brunch in DC, skype in DC why do that while away?

  • Yb

    Really enjoyed this comment. Thank you.

  • http://www.angstandhumor.blogspot.com Shiks

    Where to start!

    If I as an African woman was walking the streets of Brooklyn,would you embrace me as your long lost sister that slavery stole from you?

    African Americans have this crazy view of Africa,like we stopped living to mourn your loss and will feel this sense of relief when you return. Africa moved on,without you and will not stop for your return.

    There isn’t a monolithic ‘African experience’,just like there isn’t a singular Black American experience. You just didn’t fit in there,you may fit in in Kenya or Nigeria. There isn’t a yard stick that measures being African because Africa is made up of 54 distinct countries,each with their unique identity.

    Stop searching for a sense of connection from a place. African Americans expect to feel this sense of home from people who sold them off. Understand that you are a child of two worlds,none of which are truly yours.

    Take longer trips and go to more than one braai. Don’t expect Africa to fit into your ideals and just be open.

  • Yb

    “African Americans have this crazy view of Africa,like we stopped living to mourn your lossand will feel this sense of relief when you return. Africa moved on,without you and will not stop for your return.”

    You are seriously projecting. No where in this article did she say that. Many black people of the diaspora are aware that Africans feel no remorse nor strife toward selling us. You took the writing of this opportunity to voice your hate and prejudice towards AA’s, not to truly educate about our past. Seek help.

  • jita8

    No offense to you Demetria, but honestly as an african I dont think you can pretty much categorize or define africa from your trip to South Africa. NOt to say South Africa is not Africa because it is, but its also been very westernized and still inhabited by a lot of non blacks. Also there are many countries in Africa that are english speaking and thus will not have an issue with you just speaking english as there are many locals who just speak english as well. I think until you have experienced different parts of Africa where you can get the truth authentic natural feel of what Africa really is, you cant make any assumptions about the continent as a whole. I say go back and try again and this try another region, preferably West Africa and you may feel differently.

  • Yb

    *of this article as an opportunity

  • beks

    I loved this article! I am aware that claiming America is a new thing for American Blacks…or so we have been led to believe. My family on both sides come from the deep south and we can trace our family line (without ancestory,com) at least four generations of land owning formerly enslaved people of the tops of our heads (we’ve gone much further with research). My 97 year grandmother speaks highly of the changes that she and her children have made to this country and she embraces it as her own. She certainly doesn’t minimize the traumatic events of enslavement and subsequent inequality/racism – she actually lived though it (Boy do we have it easier). I began my own journey of understanding my own “Americaness” as the author put it when I lived in Brazil. It was very clear to me that I was American first and black second.

    At the end of the day to not lay claim to this country and its culture (both good and bad) means that I deny the significant cultural impact that my grandmother has done, that her children have done, that black people have done, that all people of color have done to make this country what it is (for the good and for the bad). While mainstream america wants me to give over ownership of “american” and “patriot” to them I will not. This is my country and radically I say “I am American and I love my country”!

  • http://www.one3snapshot.com ceecee

    I can’t say that I fully relate to your article but kudos to you for becoming a world traveler because of an interest in Africa when you were younger. Not too many people have been able to make their dreams come true like you have.

  • Jaye

    Totally agreed Pema! It amazes me that American Blacks assume you can just go to Africa and fit right in (maybe some can), but we don’t even share the same cultural identity or language. So there will be barriers, no different then if I were to go to France with my limited French. It would be a similar experience if you didn’t speak Spanish and you went to Brazil –where there is a large portion of Afro-Brazilians–and assumed you would fit right in because they are dark as you. Many Hispanics and Latino’s have the same issues. If they don’t speak Spanish and are around Spanish speakers, they feel very uncomfortable, and based on stories from my non-Spanish speaking Hispanic and Latino friends…they are also ridiculed for it. Honestly, I would assume more Canadian and British Blacks would find an easier fit in Africa because some of them are 2nd and/or 3rd Generation and have similar African roots and cultural upbringing (since their parents and grandparents are actually from Africa). Sadly, we just don’t have those roots here in America.

  • Jaye

    Well I guess you guys squashed my theory. I was reading a post from a young Black Canadian who was confused about Black Americans because we just can’t relate to him (culturally). He was saying that he finds it easier to relate to British Blacks, French Blacks, and Africans (I assume then he means Africans who now live in the U.S) because you all have a stronger cultural bond from your parents.

    But I can TRULY see how we would all be seen as the identity of our country first in Africa. I just assumed Canadian and/or British Blacks could assimilate faster into African culture then most (not all) American Blacks. I suppose I was wrong.

  • Dalili

    I hope that one experience doesn’t deter Ms. Lucas from visiting Africa again. There are unfriendly people anywhere in the world. I had a couple of bad experiences in Morocco but I didn’t let it shadow my visit and would gladly go back given the opportunity.

    3 weeks is a short time to feel at home in any enviroment, it takes time. My suggestion should she decide to return would be to schedule activities that take her away from what’s familiar, try to exprience parts of Africa that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible; She’ll find a vast majority of African locals are more than willing to share their culture. It’s flattery when foreigners are curious about their way of life, they’ll happily oblige.

    And don’t worry so much about not fitting in, as many have attested on previous comments people will find something to set you apart…..even when you are a citizen of said country.

  • apple

    Wow didn’t know Africans felt that way. With that being said I think the author just wanted to find a connection to who she thought was her people. And truly wanted to be accepted by what her ancestors/she lost. But wow this statement makes me think, that’s why I have no feeling or connection to a place I never been or people I can’t relate to just because we’re all the same color.

  • Alexandra

    had a close friend of mine that was a loud one, no matter if she was talking about something personal, offensive, etc; she always spoke about it loudly. She didn’t understand the concept of whispering. She pissed me off one day when we walked into a Thai restaurant and she saw construction workers eating there (smelling like paint) and said: “Eee there’s mad Messicans in here”, then she proceeded to talk about the lack of Chinese food on a menu of a Thai restaurant (talking loudly). I only hung out with her a few times after that. The second time, she wanted to talk to me about her first oral experience on public transportation. Everyone was looking at us, because they could hear her.

    My solution is simple: don’t hang out with them, especially if you’ve felt embarrassed more than once. You can still talk to them though.

  • Guest

    Mami I normally agree with everything you say but i guess we have to have disimilarities somewhere(I am crying-I call you my long lost twin sister) .
    I think what she is saying is that she expected to feel a sort of coming-home feeling in arfrica but did not, and not not in a snobby “i’m generalizing and i cant be bothered with primitive africa” kind of way, but in a “hmm: this a moment to dispel some myths” way.

  • sharay

    yeah, this isn’t an Africa thing. I was having a convo with a woman who comes into my job. She’s Italian and I asked her if she considered Italian-American’s “really” Italian. She said no. That her cousins that live and were born here, are American first. That it simply isn’t the same, being born and bred in Italy. This type of stuff happens in every culture.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Guest

    Do you go by another name?! Or did you ever?! Feel like I may know you…….

    She is indefensible at this point in time-

  • http://www.angstandhumor.blogspot.com Shiks

    I am not projecting and I don’t hate anybody. I just think it is very naive to expect to be embraced by people just because you share the same skin colour and history.

    The whole of Africa didn’t sell slaves and you can’t say the whole continent isn’t sorry because unless you talked to every one of us.

    While African Americans may have this romantic view of Africa as home,the reality is different.You aren’t our long lost cousins,so stop expecting us to act like we are family. You can’t make people want you.

    Bottom line,you want roots. You may not find them in Africa

  • CHE

    LMAO. I was waiting for your ilk to show up and you are right on time. Why is it that some Africans feel superior? to Black Americans, Caribbeans but love?afraid? of white people…….with your histories,(slavery on the continent-yes- there was; hundreds of years of colonialism when you outnumbered those whites by the millions, etc) past and present- what do you all have to feel superior about(if you all do?). No snark. I am really curious and would love an answer.

  • Whatever

    “The tittle should have read, not African enough in South Africa!”

    THANK YOU.

  • CHE

    oh yeah.. nasty and arrogant and full of yourself too * you arent our long lost cousins,so stop expecting us to act like we are family.you cant make people want you*.end quote.

    So if a Black American, West Indian goes to visit an African country we are looking for family, especially from the likes of you… we couldnt possibly be visiting out of curiosity, like going to other parts of the world (London, Paris). We have our own families and homes….so what ,in your arrogant mind, do you think you can give us that we cannot give ourselves?: Youre probably in America too and benefitting from the fight Black Americans waged for their rights and yet still have a nasty attitude…Good luck with life.

  • http://www.kristin-rodriguez.com Kristin

    What in the ham sandwich does her going to brunch, etc. have to do with any damn thing? For being so “uppity” yall sure do follow her life and whereabouts pretty damn closely. Your comments reek of jealousy and disdain. Next…

    I absolutely understood her post.. reading is completely fundamental. The stories and illusions that most of the commentors have “made up” is ridiculous. Read the post, take if for what it is. If you don’t appreciate the her work, then don’t take the time to comment 2-3 times on the post. #Geniuses!

  • CHE

    One last thing, LOL!

    If Black Americans or Caribbeans Did decide to go back and CLAIM Africa and decided to settle there….WHO’s GONNA STOP THEM?!. YOU????

  • apple

    @che I bet she is in America !!! Why else would she be on a black American site!

  • Beautiful Mic

    “Only when convenient” are we all ‘the same.

    As a Europe born (American and Latin American bred) half African/half African American I say this; and it applies to both African-Americans, Afro-Latinos, Africans and Afro-Europeans.

  • http://www.ekeneonline.com Ekene

    First I will say right off the back that I am Nigerian. I will also say that I found the article interesting. It is an opinion piece and the writer is simply stating her viewpoint at this particular time.

    Funny thing is by the end of the article, I was reminded of a saying we have in Nigeria, “What you are looking for in Sokoto (which is considered a fairly remote location), you will find in your shokoto (which means, your pants). We often go off in search of something that can really only ever be found inside of us.

    As far as feeling at home in Africa because one is black, truth be told, I have met Africans who after such a long sojourn abroad no longer feel at home in their various countries. Sometimes that feeling of belonging is elusive, particularly when one is not quite at peace with themselves.

    Before going any further, may I just say, I hate this African vs African American hate spewing nonsense. Slavery affected us all. Yes the unfortunate truth is that some slaves were sold by Africans, but many were also stolen. And as for mourning. Of course there was mourning, and wailing and pain. I remember once asking my grandmother before she died, why I never heard people talking about the transatlantic slave trade. She replied in my language and I can’t properly translate it to English, but if I were to try, it would something like, it is too painful too remember.

    Someone I know closely, the legend is that her great, great grandfather was a slave trader and that he was such an abomination that when he died and was buried, the ground opened up and dislodged him from his resting place. This legend was told to me when I was a child and he had been dead at least several decades.

    I say all this to say. This should no longer be a point to divide us. It happened in our past. Healing is our future and understanding and mutual respect is the only way forward. Yes, we have so many differences in perspective and culture, but as with all people, we all live, breathe, love and die. Shikena.

    So that being said…I am a Nigerian American. Currently I shuttle between Nigeria and Atlanta and in my kitchen you are just as likely to find jollof rice, bbq ribs or quite frankly brie on flatbread. Life is short. Home is wherever I choose to be and honestly I find that when I think that way, I find my community, whether it is in the hot, crowded streets of Lagos or in the too cold shopping in Dekalb Farmers Market.

    Be well!

  • MsSunshine

    This just goes to show the true complexity of identity, but it also shows how every perspective is valid because it is a person’s own experience. I am a black Canadian, with a Brit-Jamaican mother and Jamaican father. Technically I am Canadian, but actually there are so many facets to consider. The problem is for too long minorities have been made to feel as aliens in places like North America and parts of Europe, so often these nostalgic ideas begin to form, at no fault of their own. The truth is, there is no 100% identity as we are all a complex and individual framework of past and present.

  • I got sense!

    @Shiks
    I wish more Black Americans understood this. I’ve never understood thinking like this author. It just makes no sense and is very ignorant. For the record, I am a Black American.

  • Anonymous

    I get where the author is coming from. She had a preconceived notion of what her experience would be like in Africa and it wasn’t was she expected it to be. No more, no less. In all honesty, whether you’re black, white, purple, etc; home is where the heart is.

    But what got me is the ignorance in the comments. This whole Africans vs African-Americans, really?

    *sings* We are the world, we are the children….

  • Sue

    @African Mami, I agree with some of what you said.I’m also tired of the generalising, indeed the title should be “Not African enough in South Africa”! Africa is a continent not a country!

    I feel she displayed a bit of naivete by assuming she would feel at home just because the people there look like her. However, I don’t blame her for wanting to feel at home in Africa because there are many experiences in the U.S. that would a black person NOT feel like they belong. But I do think African Americans should approach Africa just like they would Greece, China or any other country, with a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn something new. Even though their ancestors came from Africa, slavery and the oppression that followed served to erase their heritage, the U.S. is in fact their home!

    Just because the lady responded with disdain does not mean that she should not explore other African countries. FYI,sometimes Africans experience the same thing in their own countries! Anyone who has lived abroad will also attest to feeling a little out of place when they go back home. It’s okay to want to belong, to be proud of your country and culture but really we are all citizens of the world.

  • Sue

    Very well said

  • http://Aol GT

    I used to like her but now I hate her because she is using her “public figure” just to get her puffy face on all the tv shows to promote her new tv show. I think she looks ugly with her puffy face.

  • LISTEN HERE!!!

    Please!!! DO NOT TAKE “Shiks” SERIOUSLY! Many Africans do not even think the way she/he does. Are you kidding me? Many Blacks throughout the diaspora that visit many countries in the continent of Africa have always told good stories about their visit to the Continent of Africa on how well they were embraced, especially Nigeria or South Africa. Even Ethiopia. Africans by nature are not racist!!! We accept all people, especially our long lost relatives. Shiks in nothing but a self hating African. Self hating Africans hate themselves and those who stem from them. That’s why you see them all over the globe in places like Austria and Czechoslovakia. They’re everywhere but in Africa trying to claim someone else’s culture because they are ashamed of their own. Please ignore her. She is not a mouthpiece for Africans. We love ya’ll. And just remember that those who sold their relatives off into slavery were lied to. They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. So from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply sorry for what happened. Many of us are, and that’s the truth.

  • Kayla

    You are truly disgusting!!!! If you disagree with her words than that’s fine, but don’t attack her physical appearance. I’m pretty sure you don’t look a beauty queen.

  • jennifer

    Just the story of a very naive traveller..Kind of like…the bedroom was smaller then I expected and there were no towels…If you were Nigerian or Senegalese, South Africans would have treated you the same….like a foreigner, an outsider…reality check desperately needed!

    As an African-Carribbean I have travelled through 20 African countries, mostly with beautiful experiences and sometimes with horrific ones…. like with all travels, anywere in the world. I take them at face value with the undeniable confidence that my right to “feel” part of the African continent is a godgiven right granted by the suffering and death of millions. I have the conviction that nobody, even a born and bred African, can take this right away from me…ever.

  • Bubbamae

    You don’t get it. When you don’t know where your people are from it leaves a hole inside as far as identity is concerned, especially when you meet Chinese and Europeans that can go back sometimes 20 generations. There is a need to feel that void,but you’re right, you can’t go home again. Descendants of slaves in the Americas, and especially Black Americans, though we have made a way in these lands, are always in the difficult position of not truly fitting in anywhere; there’s no place to call truly OUR home.
    I don’t think Africans can understand that, but that’s cool, just don’t judge…especially if you’ve chosen of your own free will to live among us. You haven’t earned the right to judge us or understand us completely.

  • Tarupiwa Of Zimbabwe.

    On a lighter note, if there is any that feel they want to visit Africa and feel at home come to Zimbabwe. Come prepared to stay for a month or two. There great Zimbabwe, what we Africans built way back before whites came to loot. There is Mosiowotunya (victoria falls) one of the 7 wonders of the world. Form a visiting group, may be 20. I will do all the logistics for. Come and stay in an African village, go to the chief’s court, participate in how we handle our court trials, law suits, litigations etc. Go to the feilds, eat sadza and feel the life. African life is simple – you could even fall in love while this side. Dont be in a rush, take your time when you do come. You will understand why Africa is the mother land. Besides there is pleanty business opportunites here. Whites come here to plunder and you just fold your hands out. Africa belongs to all of us – the land, resources and the opportunities. We can build and love Africa together, its our heritage. [email protected]

  • Mwendwa

    I understand that there are cultural differences between the African people scattered in the diaspora from USA to the Caribbean. But I can not see why and how we as Africans, African Americans or whatever form of identity we have been labelled or bestowed upon ourselves fail to focus on what binds us.
    History shows that great man like WE Dubois to Martin Luther King Jr co-operated with African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and Nyerere to name a few. The result of that is in the 60s the Civil Rights movement was on fire in America. That was indeed a fruit of the solidarity of the African diaspora’s brotherhood and sisterhood. And even the 1960s became called the year of Africa as the highest number of African countries got their independence from the colonialists.
    I fail to see why now after great men sat together and fought for global liberties for the Africans within Africa and others scattered by history, we are now disrespecting them by focusing only on our differences. We should doso much better as a people in Africa or the African diaspora….Together we can uplift each other as it is no secret we shared and still share some common struggles.
    #Peace and Love from a Tanzanian lady in the U.S.A

  • Just Me

    Great comment. Very interesting perspective.

  • Just Me

    +1

  • Just Me

    Wow! Awesome comment!

    Travelling overseas definitely gets you in touch with your American-ness real quick.

  • Zee

    I totally relate to this story although I am an Afrikan living in Cape Town. I’ve met good South Africans but most of them treat the so called Afrikans like dirt. The feel they are superior to people coming from other countries in Afrika. They always ask me, “so you are from Afrika?” They separate themselves from Afrika. Shame!

  • WhatIThink

    Truth be told Africans in Africa don’t identify as “Africans”. They identify as Hausa, Tutsi, Ibo, Nuba, Zulu and so forth. So it shouldn’t be surprising that an African American person is not instantly recognized as an “African brother/sister”. Until Africans develop a truly global identity as Africans and stop with the nonsense, greater progress in and outside Africa will not take place. And the funny thing is that none of this xenophobia seems to apply to Europeans, Asians and others who can do what they want in Africa, no questions asked. Only other Africans seem to get that treatment.

  • http://N/A CAZ

    I enjoyed reading the article, and identified somewhat with too. I am British of West Indian parents, and found something said in the article made me say to myself, “Yea thats it.” A sence of belonging came to my mind. Where do I belong? I have lived in St. Lucia and feel so at home there more than I do in the UK, even though I have spent most of my life there. I really admire people who want to know and experience “where they came from” I will be writting my own experience as to encourage a friend to start writting again, we said we would both write an article and complete by the month end to share. Thanks for sharing.

  • Robyn

    As a former South African now “American” woman descended from a mix of ethnicities & races (social construct), I feel that this article speaks directly to the hole one cannot help but feel when one comes from multiple worlds. One is not just a whole from one place, you are made of pieces of many places, experiences, histories, cultural contexts, stories & mythologies. The desire to feel a sense of connection to place is understandable and a natural reaction to a history of enslavement & destruction. I applaud the author for baring her sense of “displacement,” it speaks to the desire in all of us to belong, connect, and create a completeness. Exploration of this lack is the first step towards putting the disparate pieces together and endeavoring to grow & learn. It is important to embrace our internal “‘manyness” in order to embrace each others “manyness.”

  • AustralianGirl

    Hi Robyn – another south african ‘coloured’ here! (from capetown).

    My family moved to Australia when I was young, so yes I can appreciate your words.

  • MoyaD

    Uhhhmmm… i’m sorry.. i dont understand? ONE PERSON made a snarky comment about your inability to speak isiXhosa and you took that as a rejection of a whole country? a continent???? come on now!! surely you are made of sterner stuff??????

    I’m a black south african, we speak MANY languages, language is hugely political and highly divisive…. you sound like a progressive person, who surely arrived in SA aware of this fact….. ? we bond over language and we fight over language… why on earth would you take this so personally????

    I’m a Joburg native, and am not sure i understand what you mean by: “My first stop, Johannesburg, is a city of continent-wide transplants, and even among them, my American-ness was announced long before I opened my mouth. It was shouted in the way I carried my body, my facial features and body-type, and the way I dressed.””

    REALLY???? as a local who has hosted innumerable african american friends, colleagues, acquintances, and yes, even AA family in the diaspora.. i’m keen to hear what it was about your dress and demeanour that you feel set you apart? that marked you as an ‘American’???? for the most part most thousands of aFrican Americans go about their business in Joburg without anyone so much as batting an eyelash or even being aware of their ‘American-ness’…. unless they choose to make it known….

    it saddens me that you left (South) Africa feeling so rejected… and so alienated… especially as i’ve lived in the US where i got so much love and acceptance in the embrace of the African American community…. and yes, there were those who sought to make me feel excluded, who rejected me based on their own colour/class/emotional crap.. but i chose not to allow that to define my entire experience… or memory of, and atittudes to the US or its people…

    i understand the pain of rejection.. its a universal pain… and god knows AFricans can be cutting when they wish to make it known that you are not one of ‘us’… but i think to hang your entire (I was not African enough) argument on one slight .. is really unfair…. and does a disservice to your piece…. and to our country…. and our continent….

  • Muzi

    MOYA I FEEL YOU 110% And I’m also from South Africa (JOBURG STAND UP!). You find that the Xhosa woman wasn’t rejecting Lucas because she’s American, but rather because as a black woman in South Africa it can be very frustrating to speak english to another black person. When I speak english to another South African who speaks a language I don’t understand, I am sometimes met with that very frustration.
    As for looking American, I am also baffled. Facial features? If anything, 8/10 alot of the lighter skinned African American’s would be confused with coloureds over here at first glance, while their darker skinned counterparts would be mistaken for West Africans. But to look American sounds absurd. I feel like the writer of this piece came into South Africa feeling herself to be different (maybe even better), and then went onto project that difference into that one singular encounter.
    Moyo your final sentence is very interesting too; “to hang your entire (I was not African enough) argument on one slight .. is really unfair…. and does a disservice to your piece…. and to our country…. and our continent….” Perhaps even to her country aswell. Because as a South African I am wondering if (black) Americans really do see themselves as racially different from black South Africans…

  • Wayne Paris

    The author of this article is a joke. And further more, she should never leave America, not even to visit family if they move over seas. Americans expect everyone who enters their country to be aware of at least some thing that is worthy of knowing about America. This woman went to South Africa and did know one basic thing of that country, which is, there are many languages besides English. If she was going to France, Italy or Spain I bet she would have tried to brush up on the languages of those countries, but since this country is predominately Black she just up and went over there without a clue. This part of the reason why we get the title of the “Ugly American”.. She fit the bill to a tee. And to those of you who claim that you were born in another country only to discover when you go back you are an american, its because you expect the people to look up to you because you are visiting from America. I was born in Trinidad but I live and breathe America. I left before it was time for high school and in my forty five years over here I’ve been back five times with my most recent visit being this year. The people who still know me and those who know of me are never in awe of me because they view me as the kid whose parents took him to America but they never took the Trini out of him.

  • Glory

    Nothing wrong with the author sharing how she felt during her own experience. It’s a personal story.

    While not knowing a language can be very alienating, I suspect it was a larger issue than that for the author, though she doesn’t get into it much. I’m East African, and I always love my visits to South Africa despite that I can only speak English there. But I feel pretty out-of-place there too sometimes. So it’s not really so strange that the author would feel as distant from an African country as she feels from countries in Europe. We were split apart centuries ago.

    Still, I think it’s great for African-Americans to have a curiosity about Africa. There is a historical link there, and anyone’s intention to search for some connection should be respected. I hope it happens for anyone who looks. I also think it’s important for African-Americans to come here with an open mind moreso than many expectations. And if it doesn’t happen for you, oh well. It’s fine. African-Americans themselves have a rich, albeit young, culture to identify with anyway. Some of the history is painful, but it is also full of depth, character and amazing stories. There is plenty to hold on to there and be proud of, regardless of whether you feel a connection to African cultures.

    It’s okay that we’re all different – that’s just how diverse and multicultural we as black people all over the world are. Nothing for any of us to feel sorry about.

  • Paula

    I’ve been trying to tell people that all along “being black doesn’t make you African.”

  • Paula

    I agree.

  • http://afrikanmami.blgospot.com African Mami

    YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYES!!!!! GLOOOOORY.

  • Paula

    This is a great positive attitude.

  • Cece

    My goodness, this is so poorly written! Were it not for the fact that I am a black woman who has experienced American life in the 20th and 21st centuries, I would have NO idea what the heck Demetria is attempting to illustrate with this terribly disjointed bit of typing dressed in an article/blog entry suit. Really disappointing execution!!

  • Em.

    Never to return to the entire continent, eh? Dramatic? Just sounds like you really didn’t try to prepare yourself for your “homecoming”. What’s up with that? Black Americans venturing to South Africa when we all know that the Diaspora are mainly of western origin. I have no delusion of returning to an African home. Too many generations have passed who looked longingly to Africa for salvation. That ship sailed a very long time ago.

    In general, I like to travel as inconspicuously as possible. I’ve been to Senegal and had a somewhat similar experience with local language. In Dakar, everyone addressed me in French; outside it was largely Wolof. It was what I expected and prepared accordingly. In St. Louis, a young man spoke to me, not in French nor Wolof but the Peul language. He was certain that I was his people and surprised I didn’t speak his language.

    A friend from Sierra Leone shared with me that her grandmother did not speak French, refused to speak the language of oppression. I am reminded of that when you said the woman met your response with disdain. I would not have childishly fled to the US vowing to never return to Africa (EVER?). South Africa would have been a far richer experience if you made an effort to engage it with its native tongues.

    “I ascribe a basic importance to the phenomenon of language. To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization.”–Frantz Fanon

  • Aba

    Exactly what i thought too. South Africa cant be compared to W.Africa when it comes to pure African culture. The whites have been there for too long. lol. Come to Ghana and you’ll be overwhelmed by the belongingness. Go ask the Obamas!

  • deva

    I agree paula…although, i never been to Africa and will like to go one day. I know I AM NOT AFRICAN AMERICAN. Even here in America there is a seperation between Africans and Black Americans. I understand where the writer is coming from to feel left out or not welcomed. It happens all over the world to Black American people and it is really sad. How different nationalites look down their noses on Black Americans but want to be a part of the American society and “American dream” and American life and would do anything to be here IN AMERICA….SHAMEFUL.

  • Mwendwa

    Amen to your comments and all the others…Like seriously why judge the whole of Africa made of 53 countries and diverse cultures on the basis of one experience?
    Africa is a continent made of people with different cultures and not a continent. An example to get African Americans to understand is that there are some differences in accents and other stuff between blacks in the north and south even within the same country. Now in Africa the differences are even more expansive due to geographical differences and the intricate histories of each individual country.
    So yeah don’t judge Africa or a country…explore more and wherever you are in life Demetria in search of your identity choose to see the roses instead of thorns.

  • Kema

    My cousin visited Ghana… She loved the experience so much she moved there.

  • njebony

    Thank you for your relevant comments to the author’s story. Hers is a personal experience … and I hope your comments lead African-Americans to be better travellers
    abroad and not be “ugly American travellers”. Happy trails to all!

  • Aba

    Gimme her address i might just pass by and give her a hug! :). no place like West Africa for our Sisters at the other side of the ocean. Try it!

  • Viv

    I completely agree. I respect that Demetria shared her personal experience, but if she was trying to make a larger argument about the Black American in Africa, it was poorly written and executed and makes no point whatsoever.

  • http://www.blackswithoutborders.net judy

    I am one of the producers of a documentary called blacks without borders, chasing the American dream in South Africa and we explored and talked extensively to African Americans who are living in South Africa and most if not all had been very well received by all South Africans. However, they do warn that you can’t come over there with the “ugly american” attitude, that does not go over well there. They disdain that. The author’s experience was her experience and it could have just been a very isolated incident. It happens here in the states. As black Americans most of us know first hand what it feels like to be isolated or disrespected for no apparent reason other than the color of our skin and we have to just keep it moving. It is sad that she had a bad experience in SA. South Africa and The African Continent has a lot to offer black Americans and many are leaving the states and finding their American dream in Africa.

    Kema…. i would like to get your cousins info, we are producing a doc on blacks living in Ghana.

  • fsilber

    It’s a common and often sad story. I once read about a Greek immigrant who never felt like he fit in here, and after fifteen years or so returned to Greece — only to discover that in Greece he now felt very American and no longer at home.

  • african to the core

    the article sucks, the writer lost me ahhhh on the first page, not african enough? there was absolutely nothing on the article that explained that title, and secondly go have some african friends and visit with them at home so you can visualize tradition. what exactly did you expect would happen that a group of people would greet you at the airport, embrace you and say welcome home? my dear no one has time for that rubbish, africans are who they are and one person does not define a nation or country. i dare you to go to nigeria if you dont come back in tears talkless of come back period lol i apologize that you felt like it wasnt all you expected but left to me your expectations were to high and you had your guards up….bad combo. get over your self and what exactly does an american or african look like? pls drop that ignorant statement.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/2012/04/toure-and-piers-in-boxing-ring.html R Kahendi

    I think many commentors are projecting their own issues onto this article. The author isn’t rejecting Africa on the basis of one experience. She’s talking about how she started out with a fairy-tale notion of what Africa was, and how her experience of outsiderness in Africa changed that. She “woke up” and realized that Africa was not some mythological place to which she had a magical connection, but a continent with a variety of national, ethnic, and linguistic experiences, and that people who had lived there were connected to it more directly than she was. She also realized that, as mixed as her experience being American has been, she has a direct connection to a little corner in America, which she calls home.

    Why is that so terrible for some people to read? And how on earth can they take her words to mean that she is rejecting Africa? Do people think it would be more ideal for her to continue to think of Africa as a fairytale land? She is actually acknowledging she is a foreigner in South Africa, which is exactly what many commentors are saying. Why is it wrong for an African American to say that, in retrospect, she realizes that America is home? America is indeed her home. She was born there, raised there, and has a whole life there.

    The article is actually a well-written narrative. It is a very brief coming-of-age story, and the writer very clearly knows what she is doing. There’s a reason why she uses words such as “Disneyland for black people.” She’s being ironic, kind of poking fun at some African Americans’ (including her own) perceptions of the continent. She transitions from talking about some abstract place called Africa to talking about a specific state, South Africa, with numerous official languages and experiences that she knows nothing about. The title “Not African Enough in Africa” is ironic. It’s not sarcastic, nor is it a condemnation of the continent.

    Read the article again, folks. And this time, do so with an open mind.

  • Gloria

    On my first trip to Africa I went to Senegal West Africa to meet my future in-laws. I was suprised to see people who looked like family and friends. I saw one man who looked like he could have been my late father’s twin. Many people that I encountered were eager to converse with me in English or my broken Wolof. West Africa is where most of our ancestors were from.Being a black American in West Africa is a much different experience.

  • NaturallyHairObsessed

    Thank you! You took the words right OUT of my mouth – and so well. Misinterpretation run rampant.

  • LulaSky

    What an idiot. my parents hail from East Africa, I was born and bred in America but I have traveled to Zambia, S.A, Tanzania, and Kenya in the past, and I LOVED my experience. I met so many different people from the nomads and inner city dwellers, yet there was unconditional love. People were just friendly and open. I loved it, and I did not speak a single language they spoke. In Africa, the language is universal. I love it.

    The thing about African Americans is, just because you are black doesn’t make you the same with Africans which themselves are diverse. It was easy for me to mix because I come from a cultural background where the motherland plays a role in my household. My language, family back home, so I am connected to the place, even though I was not born there. For many AA’s that connection simply doesn’t exist for the reasons mentioned above.

    The one thing you should have done is keep your attitude back in America, because in Africa you dont give attitudes like that. People usually can read a traveler from afar and are very respectful and warm.

    I cannot relate at all…sorry

  • SamJam

    I 100% agree. Glad someone finally had my sentiments! People, please open your minds. She didn’t sound like she was rejecting Africa at all! I understood what she was saying.

  • SamJam

    Right!

  • Zaza

    Lol to anyone thinking life will be perfect when they touchdown in the ‘motherland’. I’m british, of african origin, and visit Africa regularly. Like anywhere else in the world there is the good with the bad. You’ll meet lovely welcoming people, and resentful people who’ll give you a blank hating stare when you explain you can only speak english/they hear your accent. It can be hurtful, but you have to understand from their side(talking South Africa specifically) generations of being told that you are inferior to white/european people is going get internalised somewhat.

    Therefore when such people hear a black person ‘talking/sounding white’ with a non african/british american accent, there is this sense of ‘ooh this bish thinks she’s special!’ like you’re faking your accent/who you are or something/ are not ‘real’ black.

    But really it’s someone else’s insecurities/issues that they are simply projecting onto what they think you represent. But there are nasty judgemental people everywhere, Africa, Asia, America,Europe. Try not to let it get to you and find some cool open Africans to chill with!,there will be plenty around who love showing off their country to visitors and meeting new people.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    That’s an excellent comment Glory.

  • Zaza

    Oh and to the people saynig ‘it’s her fault- learn a South African language!’
    I can only speak for myself but you try learning Zulu or Shangaan!, When you’ve grown up with only English, it’s a totally separate foreign(lol sorry) form of language. I’m bad enough trying to learn other European languages(french,spanish) as it is!

    However its good manners to at least try learn greetings, pick up what you can, and be polite when explaining you can only speak english as opposed to demanding the other person speak it. If we all had to be word perfect in the language of whatever country we visit, no-one would ever have ventured anywhere, let’s be realistic.

    Ease up on the writer a little. Even if you don’t recognise it, this is her experience. I love South Africa, but South Africans (just like people anywhere else) can be mean as hell when they want to be!

  • Zaza

    Lol, you start out rejecting her interpretation of negative experiences with Africans by calling her an ‘idiot’.

    I agree with some of what you’re saying, but you are exaggerating a little with the ‘all africans are peace and love’ line. Maybe you’ve had all good experiences in Africa, but that won’t be the case for everyone. There are mean,rejecting people everwhere, Africans can play the ‘reject the outsider’ game too.

    I mean my family is from SA, I love the place, but let’s not pretend, this is the same place that those xenophobic attacks exploded in not too long ago,it ain’t all ‘peace and love, let’s hold hands with all our black brothers and sisters’ over there. The situation is more complex than you make out.

  • Rahim

    your documentary was the reason i was even reading THIS piece. I have shown it to all my friends and family to prove to them that we have been told lies about Mother Africa but also if we get to go don’t go with the ugly american mindset. I have spoken with my African brethren and seen how they get the feeling that a brother is being condescending when speaking til they realize that i am genuinely curious about “home”. I would love to go back and do whatever it takes to get that acceptance

  • TypicalBlackWoman…

    All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, by Maya Angelou – highlights her experiences as an African American in West Africa. Highly highly recommend it for both African Americans and first generation African Americans

  • Yeahright2011

    I like Western Europe for traveling. You’re treated like an American. Well you have to say so in France, Greece, and Italy for they’ll think you’re a hooker. Once they realize you’re American its a good time though. Closet I’ve been to Africa is the Canaries and the only African country I want to see, if any, is Cape Verde. If you want a West African experience just go to DC or NY. Why fly half way around the world when you can get treated like crap by Africans right here in the US and for a lot less money.

  • TypicalBlackWoman…

    @Shiks – to answer your question, many African Americans in America, well the reasonable ones, do accept African immigrants as their own and genuinely want to get to know them, befriend them, marry them. And let’s face the facts, many of the advances in immigrants rights (which includes African immigrants, Latino immigrants, Asian immigrants) were made on the backs of African Americans during the the civil rights era. And also during the civil rights era, African Americans also involved themselves in several African independence movements (with some reciprocation from Africans as well – think Nkrumah). Pan-Africanism, while born in Africa, is largely fostered by African Americans, which could again explain the nostalgia.

    While on the flip side – you may find that some Nigerians in Nigeria (where I am from) would be more willing to be accommodating to white people (or now, Asian, since they are the new colonial masters) than black Americans. But this is not unique to the black experience – so I don’t fault Nigerians in particular for this. I think in general, unless you’re in Hicksville, USA, Americans are more accommodating to accepting and integrating foreigners than other, more monolithic countries. America has a history of receiving your poor, tired, masses yearning to be free, more so than a country like Nigeria or South Africa or Indonesia or the Ukraine. In some of these countries, which are less diverse (in terms of people emigrating from different countries), it is perhaps okay to point out (and sometimes with disdain) someone’s foreignness and otherness. In fact, I have oftentimes heard, even among well-educated Nigerian immigrants, the word akata freely being thrown about – and it is oftentimes not used is the most uplifting of conversations.

    There exists a very real segment of the African American population that desires to connect with Africa, and may hold on to some nostalgia. And there is a very real segment of the African population, particularly those living in America, who will continue to look at, with disdain, the idea of pan-Africanism, as it relates to African Americans. While I agree with some of the commenters, that author’s conclusions from the experience were myopic – in that she projected the annoyance of one South African to the entire continent, the divide between African Americans and Africans is nonetheless glaring. We can either decide, oh well, everyone else (the Irish v Irish Americans or Italians v Jersey Shore) is doing it, so we are excused too. Or we can decide to bridge the divide that has existed between us for 2-400 years.

    I think at the heart of the matter is the African American desire to embrace pan-Africanism while for many Africans in disparate countries, this desire for cross-country brotherhood may not be as strong, or even desirable. You have to remember, a Ghanaian person is as foreign to a Nigerian as an Austrian to a British person, talk less of someone who did not grow up on the same continent.

  • Akosua

    yeess there is no place like Ghana!

    But on a serious note, it’s very degrading and annoying when people judge the WHOLE African continent based on ONE experience… There is a big difference between Morroco and Sudan and Egypt and Uganda yet they’re all in Africa.

  • CHE

    Thank you @Listen Here….That is the experience I had in Senegal….a beautiful country with warm, welcoming, and beautiful people- physical and otherwise.

  • CHE

    Thank you Tarupiwa and I will definitely get to ZIM someday soon. I cannot wait.

  • http://n/a Kayode

    ‘Not African enough in Africa’ is in your own mind. In other words, it is what you think rather than what continental Africans think of you.

  • smm

    Absolutely!

  • malkia

    I have read numerous stories by African Americans (Black Americans?) and their angst on visiting the “motherland”. Some have had good experiences others haven’t. Like many African posters have said, Africa is a continent. Even as a Kenyan, I feel out of place in South Africa. Its all good we have different cultures and problems so I get it. It could also be all the white people, we have very few in Kenya.

    I understood the authors comments and I think all she was trying to convey is that she realized that through it all she is first and foremost an American with all the attendant good and bad that it avails. So we should take it easy on her, I don’t think she was rejecting Africa or Africans.

    I always tell Black people who come to Africa, don’t come with an expectation that just because you are black we shall get along. We are human beings first before our skin tone and therefore we are susceptible to human emotions. Come with an open mind, a humble spirit and a real yearning to connect with Africa if that is what you are looking for. If you are here to have a good time experience and another culture (Kenya is a great place!) then please do so. Black people all over the world LOVE a good party.

    Finally, Black people in America have a wonderful culture that many people around the world adopt. Yes, sure there are many aspects of it that you may not be proud of but it is yours and speaks of a people who endured and continue to endure a lot. A lot of African kids look up to Black people in America and imitate them. You are their heroes and we DO feel a connection to your struggles. Maybe that should be our starting point. Our similarities and NOT our differences.

  • KC

    I respect this author’s honesty and think she shouldn’t be attacked for it.

    I am a black South African with Zimbabwean and Seychellean roots (totally African). I have resided in South Africa for 8years now. South Africa is a wonderful melange of people and cultures but also comes with a very dark and unsettling history of racial division which, unfortunately, i still feel whether blatantly, or subtly, in my daily interactions. Not to offend anyone but personally, I think it is foolish to expect complete acceptance from Africans simply because we share a continent. The reality is that black Africans differ across cultures, language, and in interaction, and as is the way of the entire world, people will judge you based on all this regardless of our sharing a skin color. I do speak an African language (which i think is important in qualifying oneself as an African); however, that language is not South African. So I also feel the prejudice because I do not speak one of the local 11 languages( I can only understand phrases and words and am striving to learn), but i do get some respect for at least speaking ANY other african language.
    I think the author, like many of the americans I have encountered here (and on my visit to the States), may have subconsciously exuded a superiority complex when she touched down on African soil. Yes, America (at least before the recession), was one of the world leaders in most things affecting the world’s economies, but that does not qualify its citizens as better than the rest of the world’s citizens. When Americans arrive in Africa, they exude that “I’m from an all powerful nation and am gracing lowly Africa with my presence”, here described as the “ugly american”. In Cape Town we call it the “arrogant swag” and yes, it is highly depised. There is also the feeling that Africa is simple viewed as a tourist destination(i.e.viewing people in the townships doing cool stuff like making art using soda cans,watching traditional dances whose deeper cultural significance you’ll never understand,etc) all veiled beneath a claim to want to ‘experience’ Africa. Visiting only the cool and flowery places that dont include orphanges, impoverished schools, township up and coming musical artists, experiencing the grittier aspects of africa, THAT, is properly experiencing africa. Taking the bubble bath and Champaigne breakfasts, as well as the clinics that provide therapy for the ridiculously high rate of rape victims they try to help.THAT IS experiencing africa; the beautiful ugly. Often, americans (and other tourist too, dont get me wrong), don’t do this, and thus are vilified for using Africa as a landscape to entertain and stir their ‘privilidged’ 1st world minds. Because, truth be told, a week or 2 months in South Africa, living in a lodge/hotel/backpackers with all the cosy creature comforts that the majority of Africans lack in their homes, isnt actually a true African experience. Most black Africans work very hard for simple things like food, they live in wooden or scrap metal shacks, they travel to and from work in squashed taxis and they can’t afford to basics. It is therefore unfair to expect them to not get mad when you go into their communities for a spot of fun with your money, and expect them not to get mad that you cant even speak the language. It is not to be taken to heart since they have their hang-ups and are under the impression all foreigners come here to do is to exploit them and their country. To conclude though, just a quick thought which has often been raised in conversation and which might also explain the hostility towards americans at times: Africans were enslaved and transfered to another part of the world: true. They stayed there after slavery was abolished. Thus developing a new heriatage for those that would follow. I suppose we can never quite understand the american claim to a heritage that is ours here. Just because I have a Seychellean great grandfather, I don’t parade that I’m South African-Seychellean, simply because I admit to being slightly oblivious to Seychellean culture, norms, language, etc, and thus refuse to claim what doesnt feel like a part of me. Americans are just americans. Just as africans are africans. So the term African american used by celebs, and regular people, who are completely ignorant of african lifestyles, and who ask uneducated questions like “do you have zebras in your backyard” (when we all know zebras live in the wild), should be completly scrapped. I am a black South African. You are a black american. There is no African-american and you will never truely be african unless u have lived the african lifestyle, spoken the language and fought the same battles we have and do everyday. No offence intended, I am glad though that the author had an awakening. It needs to happen to more americans. :)

  • Belle/Demetria

    Hi everyone: Thanks for your robust comments. I’ve noticed several themes in some of the responses, and I’ve written a follow up post at http://www.abelleinbrooklyn.com/blog/2012/4/13/thoughts-on-not-african-enough-in-africa.html to clear up a few misunderstandings and provide clarity on some issues.

    @kc you brought up a couple points that I didn’t see elsewhere that I think are super valid, and would like to touch on. A lot of Americans do have a superiority complex. It’s a well-earned stereotype. But I’m not one of them. I dreamed ongoing to Africa since I was 10 and I really did arrive with an open heart and mind. I have several South African friends that sung about it’s praises, and many African friends who complained about how Americans know nothing about Africa. I went, as I did in any other place I’ve travelled, to see it for myself. It was a really big deal to me to travel there. I don’t think your assumption about how I approached my visit rings true for me.

    I think what you descibe is a catch 22. If people visit and talk about how dope Africa is, you say they did “cool and flowery stuff”. If they go to orphanages and clinics, it’s called poverty tourism. Amber Rose tweeted about visiting sick kids in slums and was vilified for using her wide platform– good or bad is subjective, but it is objectively wide– to portray the worst of Africa. I guess I could have written and tweeted about the poverty and stuggle I saw, but that’s largely the perception of Africa in America. I didnt think America needed another “look how sad Africa is” shout out, and think most African readers would agree. Maybe not. I’ll continue to think on how I approach that balance as I work on an upcoming book about my recent travels.

    Thanks for reading. As I said at the top of this post, I wrote up some additional thoughts a length on my personal blog. Ive asked Clutch to post for convenience. Hopefully they will. Looking forward to the discussion.

    he cool stuff, then thy situation for Black Amercans topppppppp Americans talk about Africa, or any other place. If we do cool ish and talk about that, then its said we didn’t

  • phenabena

    What is a black american? anyways…if you’re going to go to Africa to get a real feel of Africa, go to West Africa, not South Africa.

  • Ana Basharun

    Either you get it or you don’t. If you don’t get it, instead of rushing to judgment, ask clarifying questions or simply state that you don’t quite understand where the author is coming from. That would be a more rational way of going about it than throwing anathemas at the sister. It is a psychological necessity to dream of a place where you’d feel at home for an individual that has been relegated to second-class status or has never felt entirely and wholly at home in his or her country due to specific historico-cultural circumstances.

    It is precisely the feeling of foreigness in one’s own country that creates this longing and yearning for a place to call “home”. For the overwhelming majority of African Americans wrestling with feelings of social rejection coupled with the natural desire to return to the lands of their ancestors, the African continent is conceptualized as a place of acceptance, a place where they’d feel at home and would be socially accepted.

    This predicament is not unique to AAs. For example, French people of North African descent (Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian), who have been marginalized, ostracized and reduced to a simple “national minority”, consider their parents’ respective countries to be a sort of “homeland”. Only to realize, during their sojourn, that they don’t completely fit in over there either.
    Society views them as being first and foremost “French” and totally uprooted. French back home but North African in France. The difference, though, is that they have direct ties to those lands, a direct connection through their parents but the psychological processes are the same.

    Concerning her naïveté, she alluded to it herself in her article. Without wanting to romanticize the way in which African Americans view other human beings, particularly other blacks, it IS very fraternalistic in nature. Meaning that, for AAs, culture is secondary, Their “shared humanity” in general and to a slighter measure, when dealing with other blacks “racial belonging”, is placed, on their scale of values, at the top. Their vision of humanity transcends cultural differences. There is this deeply ingrained notion that the power of racial affinity trumps that of cultural affinity.

    Of course this is a bit naïve, considering that most of the world grants more importance to culture as opposed to race, if of course you believe in the concept of race. This vision of humanity as being a global family and Africans as being part of their own family, is totally divorced from reality. Because once again, people tend to associate based on cultural affinities and a shared set of cultural values.

    Of course there are Africans out there who hold views similar to those held by AAs but I don’t think it’s the majority. This is perfectly understandable. Historically, Africans didn’t see themselves as being a collective nor as being a single racial unit, as the concept of race didn’t exist. There was no common struggle stemming from the perception that African peoples are under attack and should unite beyond cultural differences in a spirit of racial solidarity. Of course Pan-Africanism introduced a new set of ideals and values.

    So it would be naïve of any AA to believe that they are going to be treated as long lost brothers and sisters by virtue of having similar skin complexion, which perhaps is very superfiicial but understandable in light of AA history.

    In closing, i’d like to point out that not all AAs have the same experiences in Africa. Some have been embraced as a distant brother or sister, whereas others, like the author, arrived at the conclusion that Africa cannot offer them what they’ve always dreamt of: a place to call home.

    They come back to the States armed with the profound conviction that America may not be perfect but it’s the only place they can genuinely call home.

    This is simply my understanding of her article

  • malkia

    Excellent comment!

  • babe

    I agree with you MoyaD. It is unfortunate that she had such a bad experience, but maybe that wasn’t her only one. I have been to many places, Luxembourg, Germany, Paris and in every one of those places, I stuck out like a sore thumb. My first trip to Luxembourg to visit friends (who are Swedish and Guadaloupean?)told me that everyone knows that I am American. I don’t get how, because I was dressed in what was trendy and in fashion at the time and my clothes did not look any different from what they were wearing, but somehow they know. I don’t get that but what the hey!

    I am proud to be American, but I was hoping to get away with looking like a native. So you see, Africans are not the only people that can spot Americans.

    I also think that black Americans should just realize that we are culturally American. This country belongs to us also, because our ancestors helped build this land!!!! We nurtured the land, farmed, built it up and died in the process!!! We own it and we better start acting like we do and forget about not “belonging”, because we do belong here and don’t let anyone else tell you different. I understand the need to belong to Africa, but we belong here also, we worked this land hard enough, start “belonging” to America!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Beautiful!

  • http://vnk01.com VNK

    I don’t agree with you there I don’t think there’s anything such as the “real Africa” I grew up in Southern Africa and that was real Africa, to me. And I think every African will have similar sentiments about wherever they are from. West Africa is the part of Africa that is portrayed in the media more than any other parts of Africa and when most African Americans thinks Africa they think West Africa

  • http://vnk01.com VNK

    I went to high school in Cape Town and I totally get what you’re talking about when they found out you only speak English. But on the other hand many Africans who live in the States are treated similarly because they speak English in a different accent.
    Also I think that your American identity will always be with you no matter where you go. Moving to a different is not easy because you are never going to belong 100% but it takes time and visiting for a couple of months of weeks is not enough to help you get a sense of living there.

  • http://www.nubeing.com enoje

    I visited Ghana with my husband and (then) three children in 2007. I was ELATED to be in Africa. My eldest son (then 5 years old) was less excited, since, as far as he was concerned, we are Africans so what was the big deal about being in Africa? (You can see he didn’t have to pay for the trip!)

    It’s true that at many times I was made to feel foreign and not embraced with the child-like anticipation I had been carrying for so many years! However, I really came to understand on that trip that African people had been colonized, dehumanized, and miseducated in their own countries, just as we had experienced the same outside. I met African people who had NO idea that there was any connection between Black people in the Diaspora and Black people on the continent.

    Africans on the continent were not living in some untouched utopia while we were suffering in slavery. To say that Colonialism did some serious damage to the minds and hearts of our people is to be a gross understatement! We have a lot to relearn about eachother and our shared history, in the Americas, in the Caribbean, on the content and all over the world. It is easy to get our feelings hurt (yes sometimes mine were). The bottom line is that even an African on the continent can’t tell me that I’m NOT truly African. I am. They just don’t know. But they will one day. Each one teach one.

  • MissFLondon

    “In Africa, I felt the same way I had in Paris or Rome or Amsterdam: never more American”

    I love your work, but Africa is not a country. And for American blacks, South Africa is certainly not the motherland.

    Most of the slaves were taken from West Africa, a fact still evident today (facial features etc)

  • http://facebook.com/fufuandoreos fufuandoreos

    I’m an American-Born Nigerian who identifies primarily as a Nigerian-American woman. But that’s the catch. When I visit Nigeria, I am considered American. My English is a “white, American English” not the British/broken English that my people speak. I look like them, but I don’t sound like them.

    Africans in the Diaspora have to deal with cultural displacement as well.

    And yes, Africa is much to large to have a general experience. I’m sure if I went to South Africa or Eritrea or Tanzania I would have to adjust.

  • http://facebook.com/fufuandoreos fufuandoreos

    Dear Belle,

    This last paragraph from your blog was unsettling (although honest!):
    “My trip to Africa was the sh**. I made friends. I went to great parties. I stood in clouds. I saw breathtaking views. I got a song trapped in my head that I still can’t get out. I had a great time that I shared with a lot of people. I liked Jozi so much I looked at real estate. Oh, and I dropped the “African-“ from the way I identify myself. I’d say that’s a great trip.”

    I think you are still generalizing Africa.
    WHENEVER someone travels to an African country and still says just “Africa”, I cringe.
    I dunno, am I overreacting here?

    The honesty that I LOVE is your blatant desire to drop “African” from your identification. I have never seen it illustrated that way and I think that says a lot about the Black American/African relationship. Maybe that is a way to begin clarifying definitions, instead of accusing one another.

    I just wish there wasn’t such a divide…

  • KemInMe

    I like this response the best. Especially the part about looking in Sokoto for what you already have in shokoto. It is my thought that if many descendent Africans in the diaspora look within themselves and their true cultural heritage even in America and despite all the imposed distortions, omissions, obfuscations etc. that have been visited upon it, we are still at our core “African” people. As the late Malcolm X once said, ‘just because a kitten was born in an oven doesn’t mean you call it a biscuit.’

    Our sister came to our geographical homeland already as a Black American, from what she described in her perspective of, and expectation for what it was going to be like. “Black” just being a color that references a racial classification but does not denote any cultural distinction per say. Those who adopt this label, within the context of simply a racial designation have apparently divorced themselves from the undeniable heritage that our ancestors have bequeathed to us, all be it distorted perhaps, through no fault of our own and whether we acknowledge it or not. It is this cultural heritage that makes us “African” not just “Black”. It is the assimilation into the value system of this hegemonic Western paradigm, particularly the American model, that makes us “Black-American”. This is what I think is the crux of our issues with self-identity. We are confusing a number of constructs, namely Nationality, Ethnicity and Culture. Each of these can be subdivided even further but for the sake of brevity I will just say this; in all of the comments on this particular article I’ve not seen anyone present the argument from the indigenous cultural perspective. Within this context, culture is synonymous with values, which are assembled and devised out of the way human beings of that group perceive themselves and their purpose in regard to the larger environment and their place within the harmony of existence and the Divine world.

    Hence, by that definition, culture is fundamentally rooted in a people’s cosmogony – the story of their beginnings and origins. This in turn shapes a people’s paradigm, which defines the limitations of their world view – what is possible or not and what is doable and not. These taboos lead to the development of traditions, etiquette and protocol that become the expression of those people’s identity, by means of various disciplines, arts, crafts, rituals, ceremonies, music etc. Now careful and earnest seeking to find a place called home would have us look for the parallels between African American expressive channels and that of our sisters and brothers on the geographical homeland called Africa today. The similarities are undeniable. This is the first and most apparent link that we have to our right to call ourselves “African” outside of the superficial criteria of sharing the same skin color.

    I say, we must look for the “African” in the “African-American” to find the first crumbs on the path that will lead us home, not discard the designation for reasons of not knowing what to look for when you walk into a house that use to be your home. If you walk into a house that used to be your home and don’t remember the items, details and nuances that made it your home, it will just feel like a house to you. It might be nicely decorated with both old and new things but neither will make a difference to you if you have no memory of it. You will find this memory deep within yourself and if your heart is in the right place no matter where you go on this planet, a place where you can walk forever and never reach the end, you will find your home.

  • http://twitter.com/Cognorati001 Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    I don’t know where to begin with this.

    I think part of the problem with American Blacks being alienated from (and being alienating to) other Black ethnic groups is the very term “African American.” I will get flack for this but here goes: it is not accurate. From my perspective, people are co-opting “third world”, post-colonial experiences that they know absolutely nothing about: the Black American reality is *extremely* different from any other Black ethnic group in the world. The term assumes a direct ancestry and almost unbroken cultural heritage — that’s completely false. American culture with its radical individualism is radically different from any other in the world. When you contrast it with African culture, the differences are dramatic. The more appropriate term for the Black population here would be “Africans and African descendants.” That terminology is simply true of all Black people in America.

    I also suspect that there is a cultural chauvinism and arrogance that is a mimicry of the general American outlook on the outside world. There’s a weird assumption of superiority and ownership, and Americans tend to erroneously think they have an objective, authoritative understanding of other peoples’ cultures: it’s imperialist.

    I cringed as the author described Africa as a “Disneyland,” and the repeated references to “Africa” as though it was a country. Americans abroad tend to treat the rest of the world as existing for their pleasure or enlightenment and tend not to perceive or understand people on their own terms. American Blacks react to ideas about African and other Black nations in the same way White Americans react to ideas about Europe. There’s a lot of paternalism, jingoism, and condescension, without a healthy respect.

    I’ve known White Americans who regularly visit India as some sort of spiritual escape, all while claiming Indians seem “happy” in poverty. I’ve known White men who’ve gone to Northeast Asia to have sex with Asian women, as though ordinary rules of decency and ethics didn’t apply. Are American Blacks starting to treat “Africa” as some place over which they can claim ownership, while not even acknowledging or comprehending the lived experiences of Africans, who often do NOT get to speak for themselves about their tribes/nations/people? I hope not.

  • Wong Chia Chi

    @ Shiks
    “African Americans have this crazy view of Africa,like we stopped living to mourn your loss and will feel this sense of relief when you return. Africa moved on,without you and will not stop for your return.”

    You know what… for a people that are sooo proud of their history,ancestry, and culture, I find it strange that many like you are incredibly willing to forget/ignore a large part of it when it suites your view of a certain group of people(just like white people).

    It really is like Paul Mooney said,” Africans wrote us off like a bad check.”

    How’s that “moving on” from Colonialism going for you btw?

    I agree with your comment though. Unique circumstances produce unique needs. Race is a non factor outside of the Americas. People are divided along ethinic groups, religions, and nationalities. So home is where you make it I guess.

    For the record, many African Americans do view Africans as kinsman. At least I did. Good to know they don’t feel the same way about us and I appreciate you saying it openly.

  • http://adjua.wordpress.com Adjua Dubb

    As a BlackAmerican who has lived in Gambia, going to the motherland as a continent, was healing for me, though i was only on a small part of her being, I felt as though I was born again. It was a necessary journey and one that made me see all that we as african americans are missing. We are missing so much, because we don’t have a culture anymore in america. It is gone to mass culprit media, all sold out and washed up, and we’re just descendants of free labor who remain in the bottom of its belly…america. In Africa I felt like a human being, and not a black this or that, but a human being, a part of this sum total of a whole people, whether rich or poor, I was connected. I had to find out how African people live, and understand how its been so misrepresented and our ignorance as African americans is daunting. I will always pride myself in living there, and will always try to remain.

  • Ice

    Yes you will definitely get flack because your comment is absolutely ignorant and typical. First of all, do you even know the history of black people in America? Because it seems as if you don’t. Let me give you a little understanding of MY PEOPLE….Black Americans never asked to be kidnapped from the continent and sold as HUMAN CATTLE. We never asked for our identity to be stripped away from us. We never asked to be sold on auction blocks like OBJECTS. We never asked to have the last names of our slave master’s. We never asked to be forced to speak our slave master’s language or salute his flag or practice his religion. We never asked to be raped, lynched, burnt alive and whipped. We never asked to be oppressed and tortured for 400 years!

    So now that we actually want to go back to where our ancestors were KIDNAPPED (that by the way we pay out of OUR OWN pockets because we never got reparations for OUR HOLOCAUST)…you want to CONDEMN us! Wow, talk about being insensitive to my people’s 400 years of slavery and oppression! You claim that we’re going back to the Mother land simply for pleasure and enlightenment? Well yes for ENLIGHTMENT because OUR history before SLAVERY was ERASED! Yes for pleasure, pleasure to learn more about OUR history and to find some ANSWERS! Maybe you should step into the shoes of Black people who were descendants of slaves so you can have a better understanding of our struggle because clearly you just don’t get it!

    Black people in America don’t think we’re superior or think we claim OWNERSHIP (as you say) to the continent of Africa! The name African-American came about because our identity was ROBBED from us! When slaves came over to the Americas, they labeled us BY NUMBERS not by TRIBES! So once again, our identity was STRIPPED AWAY FROM US! Something AGAIN we never asked for! We NEVER asked to be in the UNITED STATES! We were FORCED HERE unlike immigrants who come here on their OWN will! And it’s not just Black people in America, slavery happened all over! Black people in Latin America, India, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and in the Caribbean…we all have at least one thing in common! We all lost our identity and we will never know WHAT OUR true identity is because that shipped has sailed! Then you had the NERVE to imply that Black Americans are IMPERLAIST! That is comedy! The people who are victims of Imperialism are called the Imperialist! We’ve never BEEN in a position of power to be Imperialist! Maybe you should learn the definition of Imperialism! This is like white people claiming that black people are the true racist! LOL I can’t! Then you compare Black Americans reaction to “Africa” the same way White Americans react to “Europe”. Hmmm….do Black people and White people have the same history? NO! Difference is White people migrated to the Americas on their own and Blacks were KIDNAPPED and brought over to the Americas as SLAVES!! So no, our reactions are different because of how we came to the Americas from our original homelands.

    You are the definition of an insensitive a$$hole just like those white slave masters.

    P.S. You have an issue with the author saying Africa instead of saying a specific country, hmmm funny how you did the same thing…”in the same way White Americans react to ideas about EUROPE.”, “I’ve known White men who’ve gone to Northeast Asia” and “I cringed as the author described Africa as a “Disneyland” you just referred to Europe, Africa, and Asia as if they’re COUNTRIES! Got to love hypocrites! lol

  • Ice

    I don’t understand what is the cringe with saying “Africa”? People say they are traveling to Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East? We are quite aware that AFRICA is a continent and not a COUNTRY! And besides the Continent was never originally called Africa anyway…but that is a whole other conversation for another time! Geesh!

  • Ice

    Wow assumptions! Maybe she is Haitian American idiot?

  • Ice

    And why are you making assumptions about Black Americans? LOL yeah your theory is squashed! Stop stereotyping! And what is culture BOND? African Americans have a culture. Maybe you and that guy should look up the definition of CULTURE! LOL

  • Ice

    “American Blacks assume you can just go to Africa and fit right in” Please stereotyping dear…it’s not cute!

  • Ice

    Funny, if we treated a South Africans like this in America it would be an issue right? We would be the snobby and rude Americans!

  • Ice

    To be made a Queen? Wow is that what you got out of the article? It seems many of you are prejudice against African Americans and are reaching and misinterpreting things in order to express your hatred for us! This makes you no different than those crackers! All of you can go to hell, hating ass b$tches! We should start treating them same way they treat us when we visit their country, see how they like that!

  • Ice

    African Mami, lol Jesus take the wheel! Well, we know you’re lost worshiping Jesus! Jesus means Zeus! Zeus is a white God!

  • Ice

    Wow, as an African American woman, these hateful bitter comments are really opening my eyes of the jealousy of other black women from other cultures. It’s very sad and pathetic on their part….oh well if I was them I would be mad too! Stay mad B$tches. I had the same problem in the Bahamas! Bunch of angry birds mad because we’re from the States! But if you we treated them the same way here they would be crying injustice! smh

  • Sanura Rose

    Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. Not so much Spanish

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