African-Americans should acknowledge “the rights… and the blessing they do, you know, have actual access to.” — Akon
This past Saturday’s episode of Talk To Al Jazeera, the five-time Grammy nominee Akon shared his views on ‘rebranding’ Africa, race relations in the US, the relationship between African and African-Africans — and how he feels African-Americans should start visiting Africa more as tourists.
When asked about his views on the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the overall issues African-Americans continue to face in America — Akon said he understands the frustration of African-Americans as “the system in America was never built for black people.”
“I don’t want to speak too much for them, because I think I might have some knowledge they might not quite have, because I’m in the position where I have experienced Africa and I’ve experienced the United States. I always felt like Africa was for Africans. So when I see African-Americans in America dealing with all these issues, my first question is: ‘Why don’t they just go back home… Back to Africa.’
“In Africa, the way I grew up, let’s just pick a [housing] project in New York, for instance: that’s a five-star hotel compared to the environment I came up in… They actually get money from the government, there actually are programs that help the impoverished and the poor, and you get food stamps. I mean, they have it good, compared to Africa, you follow… If these groups were to be taken from the environment where they are now to the same ‘equal’ environment in Africa, they would be crying to come back to America.”
“How many African-Americans do you know actually consider Africa as a vacation spot?… Even, just for knowledge, just to know where they came from, just to get an idea of what that is. There is so much fear instilled in them that they wouldn’t even want to go there to visit. You mention Africa, they start shaking.”
Akon, who is also an activist and a philanthropist, discussed his latest project “Akon Lighting Africa.” “Akon Lighting Africa” is working to bring solar-powered electricity to Africans in 49 countries by the end of 2020.