‘BEING AFRICAN’ What Does It Mean?

The Continent;Africa.
The Continent;Africa.

What does it mean to be ‘African’? Does it mean stark poverty? Does it mean fig leafs and leather clothes? Or does it mean being stark naked and hungry?

I have never thought of writing anything about being ‘African’ until about an hour ago when I read a post from an old schoolmate. It was titled ‘Being African’ Apt for the purpose of her work.

My question still remains what does it mean to be African?

Here in Brazil it is not so bad an issue being ‘African’ because the few I have met, acknowledge the fact that they have ‘African’ roots, even though they are not sure which country in particular, but I like to think they are descendants of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon… mostly West African countries. That doesn’t mean that some people do not think I play tennis with Lions back home.

It is really amazing how the western people do not know that Africa is a continent, and not a country. There are 58 sovereign states in Africa. 58 different people with different languages, and culture.  I mean it is they that brought education to us, right? How come they do not know that? Did you not study geography?

Some ‘Africans’ have learnt to roll with it, but most of us outside our countries cannot.

In America it is just appalling, how ignorant they all are. Even in 2013. You should read ‘Americanah’ by the way. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author. You really should read it if you get the chance, because it explains a lot that I am unable to explain

Some months ago I was discussing with a Brazilian girl, and she told me ‘I really want to visit Africa’ It was funny. I was silent. Then she asked if she said anything wrong, and I still said nothing. Meanwhile in my head I wished her safe journey to Africa. I really hoped she found tickets to Africa.

Many Nigerians, and I am sure fellow ‘Africans’ complain or get irritated with this identity problem.

This is Ifeyinwa’s view. She is Nigerian.


23 Jan


You were warned.

This is an absolutely random text, but I’m eager to share: I wonder if I’m the only African who gets defensive upon hearing a non-African friend/stranger say “I’m going to Africa in a few days.” Or, something like “I went to Africa over the summer, and it was amazing.”

Dude/dudette, I’m sure it was amazing, but I’m VERY certain you haven’t forgotten so soon what country in Africa you visited. Now, that would be a shame.

Some of you might be wondering why I get defensive. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out, but I have a few theories:

1. It sounds VERY ignorant. Sometimes, I get the sense that most folks don’t know that Africa is a continent, and not a country. Africa has about 54 countries, which country are you referring to?

2. It sounds VERY patronizing. Almost as if saying Tanzania or any of the 54 African countries isn’t cool enough, so it sounds way more “exotic” to say Africa. Because when people hear Africa they think of black babies playing in the mud and black people living in the jungle and riding on the backs of giraffes. Right? Wrong.

3. Lastly, before coming to the States, I never identified myself as African. My identity revolved around being Nigerian, or specifically being an Igbo girl from Idemili North local government in Nnobi, located in Anambra State. So, when people say they are going/went to Africa, I just wish you would elaborate, unless you’re making shit up. If you’re scared others wouldn’t know the geography of Africa, please, educate them. There’s joy in sharing.

So, there it is: a completely random post that I felt the need to share. To all my Africa-loving friends & strangers, I still love you all.


When I read the work of my old schoolmate, I wondered ‘Oh, she goes through this too?’ She is fair skinned and really pretty. I did not expect her to even have issues ‘being African’. But I realized, that the moment you step out of your fatherland into another country (if you are from an African country) you are immediately called ‘African

One question! Why are Brazilians not called ‘South Americans’ when they visit another country. Why are Russians not called ‘Europeans’? Why are Americans called Americans and not ‘North Americans’?

Oh it seems I have asked more than a question. You get my point anyway.

I am Nigerian. I want to be referred to as a Nigerian, not African. Even though I am from the same continent with my South-African sister, does not mean I should be tagged as African as if it were a country.

Being AFRICAN, is being BLACK.


In some parts of Africa, we have white skinned people. Why are they not referred to as Africans? Oh no! Some of them wouldn’t even want it. Well… ALL OF US DO NOT.

Besides, in my country, I am not called ‘black’ or ‘negro’ or well, you know the rest. It is leaving our country that makes us black, and African.

In my schoolmates work she quoted her friend. You should visit her blog, it explains another aspect that I am not addressing here. It is beautifully written, and I am sure most ‘Africans’ abroad can relate.


“I’m never donating money to Africa again; they have all these buildings and amazing houses”.

Here we are again… She showed her a picture of Lagos, Nigeria, and the babe still said ‘Africa’.

I just want people to understand that there is no such thing as ‘being African’ One is either Nigerian, Algerian, Cameroonian, South-African, Tanzanian, Mozambican, Ghanaian, Sudanese, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Kenyan, Namibian, Zambian, Togolese, Senegalese, Moroccan, Ugandan, Angolan, Gambian, Libyan, Tunisian, Zimbabwean, Malawian,  Congolese, Ivorian, Malagasy, Nigerien, Burkinabé,  Malian, Chadian, Guinean, Rwandese, South- Sudanese, Beninois, Somali, Burundian, Sierra Leonese, Central African, Eritrean, Liberian, Mauritanian, Gabonese, Batswana, Mosotho, Equatoguinean, Bissau-Guinean, Mauritian, Swazi, Djiboutian, Comoran, Western Saharan, Cape Verdean, Seychellois, or Sao Tomean.

Britain has its overseas territory called; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. They cannot possibly call these ones Africans right?

How about Réunion (French island) and Mayotte. They belong to the French, but they are African countries too.

It wouldn’t hurt to learn something new. 20 minutes ago, I did not know the demonym of these countries. I did not even know some were in Africa.

So my point in summary…

  1. Even though the race circle has refused to be broken, the ‘African’ should be referred by the demonym of his/her country.
  2. Whenever a country in Africa is visited, please do humanity a favour and mention the name of the country.
  3. When you are planning a trip to ‘Africa’, do yourself a favour and know where you are going. Unless you want to be the second Columbus  😀 you can re-discover the continent 😀

Thank you!


4 thoughts on “‘BEING AFRICAN’ What Does It Mean?

  1. I think Peter Tosh put it correctly he sang something to the effect “No matter where u come from as long as you are a black man ([SIC] person to be Politically Correct), you are an African” Mrs Adieche is incorrect. Sub Saharan African could be a country, a superpower. The countries that are on the continent are a construct of colonialisation. For us to compete with the rest of the world we must harness the force that continental(sub saharan) unity can give us. Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and other pioneers of independence knew that the African countries (and islands in the carribean) were too small and too tribal to succeed. Their problem was trying to include Arabs. The African intelligentsia must push for unity. I am in a Shipping MSc, most countries are underserved interms of transport infrastructure and trade because they are unsustainable as independent countries. Take Central African Republic since its independence it has had many coups and it is very rich but unstable. Those who take its strategic minerals for free, keep it unstable in perpertuity. We can’t be Nigerians, Centrafricans, Haitians, South Africans, Bahamanians, Kenyans, Senegalese, Jamaicans but we can be Africans. I adore literature, CN Adichie can write beautifully but on this point I can say we should all identify proudly as Africans and any other who wants to join us is Welcome, Black Brazilians, African Americans, anyone in the Diaspora and any settlers in black africa like the Afrikaners in SA, Indians, Lebanese, Chinese etc

    1. Thank you for this comment. It isn’t about not being proud of being African. It’s only a focus on western ignorance. Their assumption that ‘Africa is uncivilised’ and filled with only black people hunting.. I really admire your argument though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s