You Are African Enough
Updated: May 16, 2021
Dear Africana Woman,
I can be a nuisance unto myself. So I decided to do a baking class because I can. I have since learned that just because you can does not mean you should. It has nothing to do with the students. They are very lovely ladies actually. But it just does not fit into my system any more. Hence, I could not write this blog on time and a couple other things were affected.
I’m sorry Darling. How are you? How has your week been? I hope all is well since we last spoke. Let’s see … oooo gosh I can see a pattern here in my week. I have missed a couple other deadlines. The worst part is no one called me out on it. Friend if you see I have not delivered something to you at the time it should have been, please do check on me. I give you full permission to hold me accountable.
I have to let you know somethings before I go any further. To close out Women’s month. Africana Women Visionaries (AWV) are hosting two virtual events. All Women are invited:
Leading with Courage - Linda Kasonde, Zambian Lawyer & Civil Rights Activist
Thursday 6.30pm CAT
AWV Networking Virtual Mixer with Jateya Jones, the Natural Networker & Clarity Coach
Friday 6pm CAT
These two events will be phenomenal and fun, so I hope to see you there.
I received an interesting call this week. When my phone rang, I did not recognise the number, which is fine, people call me all the time. So I answered the phone and a lady was on the line. Again I did not recognise her voice. After the greetings she says to me in english, “What language do you speak, Bemba or Nyanja?” I responded that I spoke neither. Then she says, “But what language do you speak? Not even Nyanja? You have to speak something.” Like she literally launched into a rant. I said to her, “I speak this english that we are currently communicating in. Why did you call me? This surely could not have been the reason?” Turns out she had cherry selected my number from this nightmare of a WhatsApp group that I am in and was calling to get more clarification about how this new chilimba craze works (story for another day).
Then, my friends and I have been having an on and off conversation about Meghan and Harry, as I am sure many of you have had too. On one such occasion there was a school of thought presented that Meghan was not a black role model because as a woman of mixed race she identified more with her white heritage.
It seems to me that we Black people spend so much energy on sidelining folks because we do not believe they are enough. You are not African enough, you are not Black enough. What does that even mean to be African enough? I do not have to prove myself to anyone. Just because my characteristics, mannerisms and the language I am able to communicate with are not the same as you does not mean I am any less of my heritage. You would think this makes sense intellectually yet it is not practiced in reality.
Side note: I am actually finding it difficult to articulate myself today because of all the emotions attached to this topic. I cannot explain how deeply wounding it is to not feel like you belong. To have your identity questioned when it should seem obvious enough.
For those of you who do not know this, my son’s father is mixed race. As a result my son has light brown skin. So when my son was in primary school, he was picked on, bullied and called names because of the colour of his skin and his command of the English language. This was a black school in an African country. One day, he came home and was talking about his math homework. He said the number SIKISTE. I said it is pronounced sixty. He says, I know but that is how they pronounce it at school. They will laugh at me if I say it different.”
Can I just ask a question: “Now that you have proven that the person is not African enough / Black enough, what have you achieved?”
Seems to me that when the white man came to colonise Africa by dividing and conquering, our collective conscious decided to champion the concept. We internalised it to the point that we are self destructive without even the prompting of outside forces. I would go so far as to coin this behaviour as a psychological apartheid that is housed deep in our minds, maintaining strong delineations of them and us. The pure ones from the ... hmm I guess the bastards, tarnished, impure or stained.
When will we acknowledge that our diversity gives us access to tables, rooms and platforms that may seem out of our reach? Our diversity represents a deep well of knowledge. I wish people would spend less time trying to differentiate themselves and more time finding ways to collaborate. Combining your uniqueness with my uniqueness can only make the world better. Focus on what can actually make a positive impact.
Last year I promised that I would host a discussion around not being African Enough. I think I need to make time for it sooner rather than later. I know we like to pretend that all is well in wakanda land and the thought of racism being perpetuated internally is preposterous. Let’s talk about it and see if I am really off the rail.
Sorry I may not have a very encouraging message for you today. I just hope that the next time you find yourself judging a fellow African or black person, just ask yourself, What have I achieved? Sweetheart, if this is your first time here, welcome. Please go ahead and subscribe. I send you love letters every week. To the amazing people that come back every week, thank you. I appreciate you. Please do find me on social media, if you ever want to have a chat @Chulu_byDesign. Do check out the Africana Woman with Chulu podcast. I have a grand time with women of African descent on there. I hope you have a blessed week. Remember I hope that you can love yourself flaws n all and attract the life that you truly desire.