The African Identity…What Is It?
Africa is a unique melting pot. It is not like a blanket; one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. In contrast, the continent is more like a quilt, with many patches, many pieces, many colors, and many sizes. Nonetheless, all components are held together by a common thread–IDENTITY.
As Africans, our identity is our history, where we are originally from. It is our geography and the values that hold our groups of people together. Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of African Society in Cape Town, South Africa asserts that Africans are people of African descent who ultimately have African cultural roots. He goes on to reinforce the notion that Africans are also the indigenous people of Africa and their descendants living in other places around the globe such as the Americas, (including the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America) Europe and Asia.
So is it better to see Africa as one entity rather than separate entities?
Africa is richly blessed with various striking natural beauty, abundant resources, diversity and rich cultural practices. The continent is not based upon race or set of features. On the contrary, it’s more a blending of people of different physical and genetic features from 54 countries that come in all shapes, skin tones, hair textures, and sizes.
But as genetically different as we are, we Africans take extreme pride in identifying ourselves first and foremost as ‘Africans’. We are Africans when living in Africa and we are Africans first, when residing in the Diaspora. This is because to its people, Africa is not just an identity; it is also a destiny, a moral obligation. For instance, if I Omoy, an originative from Africa, Congo DRC goes to Brazil tomorrow and choose to reside in Brazil, I will be an African-Brazilian. I am an ‘African’ first and then I state the place where I am.
This is to affirm that although there are 54 countries in Africa with an estimated 3000 tribes and each tribe consisting of genetically different people with their own unique culture, religion, history, and fashion, we are still one, and as an entity we are careful not to make the mistake of mixing our identity with nationality and citizenship, particularly when living in the Diaspora.
It is this corporate identity that makes us who we are, that shapes our community, that distinctively connects us and makes us identify our allegiance to each other, and our love for our land; ultimately making Africa an endless legacy worthy to honor and preserve from generation to generation.
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