… a.ka. The Danger of a Single Story. Aka The Acacia Tree and African Sunset Book Cover
Last week, a Migo ( that’s how it works right? One Migo, three Migos?) was dragged by his loc across the span of the internet by Nigerian Twitter. You can watch the video here, but i’ll give you the run-down.
They were asked on a sports show what surprised them the most about their recent trip to Nigeria, and this was the response:
“We were surprised (with the reception we got) because it’s a third world country and there’s a lot of struggle in the city. To see that first hand was amazing. And for them to come to the show and know everything (lyrics) word-for-word. They were looking, they paid attention to everything that was going on. They knew word-for-word and their English wasn’t even that good”
It appears they were trying to be complimentary. And maaaybe i can forgive them for not knowing that the term ‘third world’ is patronizing-borderline offensive and hasn’t made clear contextual sense since the fall of the Soviet Union. I might even be able to forgive them for not knowing that English is in-fact the official language in Nigeria, although… 0_0
But what i find eternally irksome, like a mosquito bite in-between the toes, is the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling African prophecy which they are participating in; NO MATTER what, where, who, how, when or why, the only thing too many people that visit Africa go back saying is “omg the people are so poor and starving but they seem so happy, it was beautiful”. EYE ROLL
I mean think about it for a second: Migos most likely flew to Lagos business class, went through the VIP lounge, were greeted by entertainment types who spoke impeccable (likely accented cos you know how we are about unnecessary slangs) English, got chauffeured in something expensive and German WITH a police escort, stayed in a 5 star hotel on BI or VI. I bet the tickets to the concert were expensive enough to ensure that attendees were predominantly middle class and above. But the ONLY thing he noticed was the struggle and bad english. Yeah mkay. Mtchew. However, if you go looking for/ expecting poverty, struggle and illiteracy, then that is what you will find.
This goes well beyond Migos. I’ve had expats who i’m responsible for entertaining/ chaperoning tell me “this is nice and all, but i want to see the real Ghana”. ‘The real [insert African country]’ is just coded speak for the pre-conceived notion that if there aren’t lions, huts, or street kids in tattered clothes azonto-ing through the pain, then you aren’t having an authentic African experience.
No lie,that irks the shyte out of me. If i am very much Ghanaian and i take you to places i go IN GHANA, then bih that IS authentic! Where do you get off saying it isn’t because it doesn’t conform to your poverty porn paradigm? As Naija fam say, are you a learner???
And i highlight this point as someone who was critical of ‘An African City’ for straining so hard to show the ‘other side’ of Ghana that it became pantomime. But as Chima the Great told us… “the danger of a single story is not that it is untrue, but it is incomplete”.
Yes we have amazing wildlife, and abject poverty, and sus as hell English speakers. But we are ALSO a continent where a good many people ball outta control as a matter of course, eating at fancy restaurants, popping moet, and still hitting up their favourite roadside chopbar on Sunday afternoon for the omo-tuo special.
When you are given the chance to experience the multi-story line version, how bout you simmer down, toss your ‘This is Africa’ checklist out of the window (like we do with our garbage smh) and let US show YOU how we really live.
What do think guys. Am i being hyper-sensitive and doing the mostest? lol Let me know!
And welcome to part #1846 of “i promise ill blog more consistently this time” lol
Umm. First of all, who are migos? And “they don’t even speak good english?” , coming from someone that DOESN’T speak “good English”. I’m sorry. I was done before …
Anyways, rest assured, you are not being extra. Folks always think they know the ” Authentic African experience ” before they even get there. I blame CNN and travel channel and every other channel that airs the feed the hungry ads.
Aaaaand, I still don’t know who migos is or Are? Forgive my “bad English”
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so much shaaaade! lol
i love it!
Excellent piece and was oh so true it hurt the mosquito bite between my toes!
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I deeply appreciate the support! Thank you for the read and the comment xx
The reactions of people ignorant to the rest of the world outside the bubble of their city/country rarely surprises me anymore, and these “Migos” don’t come from places any better than similar areas in Africa. They only think they do because it is in America.
It doesn’t even annoy me that they think like this. It makes me laugh. Especially at this guy barely even able to make coherent sentences talking about “Good English”.
The only reason why people have this view is because they have been brainwashed by mass media into thinking the ENITRETY of Africa is the stereotypical boy/girl with Kwashiorkor, sand & at least one fly on their head, starving in an area that is simultaneously undergoing a war, drought, an outbreak of Super-AIDS mixed with sars and ebola, all the while having to fight Lions for the remaining food.
The reality is that there are poor places everywhere. North Korea has some of the worst standards of living on the planet, but hardly gets mentioned because there is no money to be made advertising it as much as Africa. Also, focusing back on the Great USA, where are all the BBC and CNN documentaries on the countless Hobos in San Fransisco?
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All facts pretty much.
And just like you said, im not really surprised, considering the what the go to narrative for “Africa” is in the mass media.
I think what irked me about this particular case is people who were suggesting that Nigerians were overreacting, being hypersensitive etc when they pointed out the FACTS.
I think they come here and expect lots of cultural differences that is new or should I say completely foreign to them. So basically they want to see things they have never seen before, and I think that’s how most ppl are. we Africans are not exempt. however there are others that come to Africa and act like even the oxygen they are breathing in is of inferior quality. Those are the ones the lions can have.
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Youre right.. I guess getting your money’s worth would mean striving for as different an experience to the one youre used to as possible.
I can see that.
LOL at lions can have..