The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Michael A. Ding­wall

Re­cently, I came across a word that I must ad­mit I did not take much in­ter­est in. The word is “afrophobia”. Loosely put, it is sup­posed to mean the fear or dis­dain for any­thing of African ori­gin. Now, I un­der­stand that this is a word that is used to de­scribe how non-Africans look down on any­thing African. How­ever, if the truth be told, we blacks are more re­spon­si­ble for afrophobia than any­one else.

In­ter­est­ingly, I was lis­ten­ing to a BBC news pro­gramme about a very dis­turb­ing prac­tice that still takes place in Africa. Ap­par­ently, many moth­ers have a well-es­tab­lished way of mak­ing their daugh­ters unattrac­tive when they reach pu­berty - they beat the breasts of their young daugh­ters to a pulp - lit­er­ally. One can only imag­ine the pain that many of Africa’s young fe­males have to go through on ac­count of this strange cul­tural prac­tice.

Fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion is also still wide­spread on the con­ti­nent. Ap­par­ently, African women should not have any plea­sure in per­form­ing the only duty that they were put here on this earth for - to have chil­dren. Need­less to say, de­spite many at­tempts to stamp out this bar­baric prac­tice, un­for­tu­nately, many African women con­tinue to die as a re­sult it.

For as long as I can re­mem­ber, Africa has been syn­ony­mous with civil strife of in­cred­i­ble mag­ni­tude. Who can for­get the Rwan­dan geno­cide that killed al­most a mil­lion peo­ple? The “Demo­cratic” Re­pub­lic of Congo has been go­ing through a civil war that has claimed the lives of millions. The Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic has not had peace now for a long time. Of course, how can one for­get the Su­dan and the many thou­sands killed there, Nige­ria’s Boko Haram, Mu­gabe’s ru­ined Zim­babwe, the un­govern­able So­ma­lia and many oth­ers?

And it is not just war. Even in “peace­ful” coun­tries, there are grave prob­lems. Cor­rup­tion is vir­tu­ally sec­ond na­ture to Africa, it seems. Nige­ria is for­ever classed as the cen­tre of cor­rup­tion for Africa; re­cently one of its cen­tral bank gov­er­nors was sus­pended for de­fraud­ing the bank. I saw a doc­u­men­tary that showed how it was hard do­ing busi­ness with the gov­ern­ment of Uganda as many civil ser­vants turn up for work and leave within the hour!

You know, one of the rea­sons why peo­ple have such a deep fear of Africa is not what non-Africans have said about the con­ti­nent. Not at all. It is what the Africans them­selves have been do­ing to hold back their re­spec­tive coun­tries. It is no won­der that many thou­sands of them roast them­selves cross­ing the Sa­hara desert and drown them­selves in the Mediter­ranean try­ing to get to Europe at the present time.

Let’s not fool our­selves, colo­nial­ism had noth­ing to do with Africa be­ing in the state that she is today. The fate of Africa has and will al­ways be in the hands of the Africans them­selves. As for me, liv­ing in the West, I can safely say that I will al­ways be grate­ful for those slave ships that brought my an­ces­tors out of that place many years ago!

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