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Feature Article of Friday, 27 January 2012

Columnist: Osei, Henrietta

I can’t do what the Romans do! It’s time to be me!

It’s amazing how many Africans in the Diaspora have become shadows of themselves! Talk of that peculiar accent, choice of food, mannerisms, copied values, and a lack of respect for the culture that gave them an identity.
Take a look at yourself; who are you? The last time I checked you were dark skinned [with enough melanin to save you from the wrath of the sun], had a strong accent that had clarity, a beautiful facial structure that could only be traced to the African continent and a native tongue that is the envy of many linguists. What happened to you? Why the slurred speech, change of name, and conscious effort to look different? Truth be told; you can never change who you are. At best, you can only become a hybrid of your African self and the culture you have been exposed to!
The world would never give you what you deserve; only what you ask for. Until the African in the Diaspora becomes mentally assertive and comfortable in his or her own skin, there is no way the African would be heard and respected. It’s time to be the African that you are; the identity crises must be gotten rid off! Why blame someone else for disrespecting you if you disrespect yourself? The Oxford English dictionary defines disrespect in part as “…to treat with irreverence”. How many times haven’t you judged and mocked your fellow Africans and labeled them as ‘raw’ or ‘green’ only because they speak and act like the West, East, North, or Southern African that they are?
In times like these I appreciate the first African United Nations Secretary General; Mr. Kofi Annan for his authentic African accent and pride in the African continent after all these years of great statesmanship!
Enough said about how you speak or look. How about what you eat? Most African staples have Rice, beans, plantain, chilies, tubers, meat, fish, and vegetables as base; as such I find it incomprehensible when fellow Africans argue that they are unable to teach their children how to make and eat African food. That is an unfortunate excuse for junk food which only increases the African in the Diaspora’s chances of contracting type two diabetes among other complications. As much as it’s not very easy to procure some ingredients, a determined African would research on ingredients readily available, eat right and live right!
In Africa, parents pride themselves in their ability to train their children to be respectful, hardworking, considerate and responsible. However, many Africans in the Diaspora have left their children on a seemingly ‘free-range’ parenting arrangement. Parents are oblivious of the negative habits their children gradually develop. Some African children have become embarrassment to their parents and community. Although it is terrible when a child has identity crises, the plot thickens when he or she has no values. Parents need to go back to their roots and instill values in their children.
One trait of the African is his or her interest in Communal living and ability to care for others but unfortunately many Africans in the Diaspora have adopted the solitude culture within which they live. Granted, life overseas makes it a challenge to bond with other Africans as desired but that is no excuse for being cold and dethatched from one another. It is time to be each other’s keeper by actively engaging in unity bazaars and gatherings which would promote the interests of the African in the Diaspora. Although Life away from home can be stressful, building a worthwhile community of fellow Africans can be a helpful support group capable of absorbing the shocks that the system unleashes.
It is time for every African on the Diaspora to be real!

Henrietta Osei
writeexpressgh@gmail.com

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