Recently, I was invited to the office of a company that required my writing skills. Over the phone, the manager sounded amiable and the work he wanted me to do, while boring, wasn’t difficult. More accurately, this job was a piece of sponge cake and I had no reason to feel intimidated.
But when I walked into his office and noted he was Indian, my heart jumped into my mouth. This was annoying because my mouth only has space for teeth and not an entire heart. My flare of nervousness didn’t blow the job, but it left me puzzled.
5 weeks ago, an article titled Intellectual African scum went viral. Its gist was that we educated Africans are useless drunkards who spend all day chasing tail while people suffer in the villages and the west continues to leech our resources. It inspired a series of reactions in me; from a mournful acceptance of my uselessness, to quiet indignation to, finally, a raging disgust at the writer’s condescending and un-researched sentiments. I’m still sad about the way so many people unthinkingly accepted the article’s lashing and even became abusive towards those who so much as questioned it crowing, “The white guy (article’s persona) is telling the truth! Don’t try to convince us otherwise!”
That madness is what birthed the term self-racism.
Complex: My generation was weaned on Cerelac and television, so it’s possible that a TV stereotype has been carried on to real life where they assume white= glamorous bringer of wisdom and light and black = porter/gangster/helpless/needy.
This may be the reason why so many Ugandans are openly deferential towards white people. Sure, we all react differently towards newness, but for the love of Nakibuule! It’s possible to celebrate differences without worshipping them.
Conditioning: Last week, I had to sternly stop my 7 year old sister from singing a slave song to soothe Daniella, our resident baby and overlord. Making hoeing motions, she sang: slave slaveslave, in America! Working day, day and night, planting sugar, sugar and tea, when I goooo to America!
When I asked where she’d learnt it, she said, “Yiii they taught us that song P.1!” I was horrified. An inferiority complex is drummed into us from when we’re P.1 babies. Note that this song isn’t taught to children within the context of say, a history class.
Courtship standards: The average middle class Ugandan man wants a girl with an education, a ‘reasonable’ accent that he can show off to his friends and some financial prospects. Most foreigners will take one look at a girl, be charmed by her dark skin and call her exotic because of her mbogo filled English. By the time African boys stop judging prospective mates using standards gleaned from M-NET, they might find all the girls’ hearts boarding planes.
If you’re one of those who read Stiletto Point in the Discovery Magazine and then come here to like or comment or whatever, you ROCK. Also, you’ll notice that a rant on Mish Mash and it’s rude management has been omitted. This is not because I am all of a sudden OK with the way they treated Lindsey, a colleague of mine. It’s because Jane Bussmann is in town and she’s, for some reason decided to hold her show there. At Mish Mash.
For those of you who haven’t read her book Worst Date Ever (or How It Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War), find it. Find it now because she’s fucking hilarious. She’s going to be being awesome at Mish Mash on the 20th of April.
You people, come and we go. Buy a ticket early- 35,000 and come enjoy an evening in the company of this awesome comedy writer (South Park, Brass Eye, Smack the Pony)