Authentic Africa speaks to us as a people, as Africans who have lived in, continue to live in, and love our beautiful continent. I feel very proud to be African and Kenyan, for that matter. Africa is a continent of marvels, and you can only feel the beauty of being in Africa by visiting Africa. I am sure that reading about our beautiful continent is not enough to get that authentic African experience. There is nothing as beautiful as seeing the African sunset on the sub-Saharan plains or hearing the tall grass of African plains whisper in the wind. The beauty that is the continent we call home is something that all of us should experience.
What We’ll Discuss On This Article:
- Authentic Africa
- Foreign Culture
- Authentic African Fashion
- African by Africans
- Cultural Usurpation
- African Literature
- Kenyan Adventure
Authenticity for me as an individual is having my own philosophy of life. My own philosophical underpinning if you like, and a system that is not borrowing from something else or another culture but my own. My soul speaks to the land, and the land speaks to my soul. Africa is my home and makes me who I am, and collectively, we make Africa. Where I am getting at is that we should all recognize and take pride in our Africanism and the fact that we, as Africa, are indeed African. I feel like sometimes we forget that we are our own continent, with our own values, traditions, and cultures. From my perspective, authentic Africa is so much encroached by western and foreign cultures.
We have become a people who borrow so much from the west that we try and fit western norms and values to the African context and culture. I think of it as trying to fit the mixture of cultures that is the world of the west in the melting pot of African culture, norms, values, and traditions. As we saw in the epigenetics article, a lot of what we see as our own faltering identity and our own inferiority is something that has sipped down to us from our ancestors since the tragedy that was slavery. In epigenetics, I put this into perspective. There is also a western side in terms of the superiority complex western people inherited from their ancestors, who were the then colonizers. While Africans and Africa grew to believe that we are inferior, the western world grew to believe that they were superior. Such contrast is today playing out in the various ways that we behave in terms of the different cultural norms or misnomers that today dominate our societies.
I am talking about what we wear as Africans, what we eat, where we live, and the various ways that authentic Africa has been watered down by the cultures, norms, and values borrowed from the west. In terms of fashion, for instance, a lot of what we buy is either imported or second-hand clothing from the west and even from Asia. Our local fashion designers do not get as much opportunity as we allocate to these other regions. We adore western fashion, especially, and most of us would easily name several international designer clothing brands. The same does not hold for local designers, and we cannot name even a few. Paradoxically, we have ignored our own designers and our own authentic fashion so much that it is western and foreign designers who are today discovering the intricacies and sophistication of African fashion design and designers. It baffles me that most of us may lack even a single, locally produced fabric or fashion piece.
African fashion is eclectic or wide-ranging, and there is a whole lot that is authentically African that we can buy. Unlike imported clothing, buying authentic African designs would help minimize consumerism and bolster the fight against climate change. It would also support and nourish African designers. A lot of what gets produced locally gets produced sustainably, and it means that it is not only authentic but also long-lasting and durable. Alternatively, what gets mass-produced elsewhere is produced unsustainably, is of low-quality, and encourages consumerism. You can imagine the carbon footprint of clothing that is shipped into the country all the way from Asia. Most times, such imported clothing is cheap, and even as this may encourage one to buy such clothing, it makes more sense to buy local, even at a higher price, and support African design. Authentic African pieces are mostly handmade and are worth a higher price as the fabrics are higher quality and get produced sustainably. There is also immense benefit in ensuring that we, as Africans, support our own economies and take care of the environment while doing it.
Supporting our own in various industries, including tourism, manufacturing, automotive production, beauty, and cosmetics, among others, is crucial to the progress that we can make as a continent. From an economic perspective, if all nations in Africa have their largest trade partners within the continent, we can inherently push Africa into the global marketplace as a major player. We sit on so much potential even when it comes to the financial potential that Africa has. For instance, we can grow local tourism economies by ensuring that we engage in local tourism and visit local tourist attractions. It would help bolster tourism locally and even internationally when we market our local tourism industries ourselves. We live in the most beautiful parts of the world and are mostly too lost in our daily lives to take the time to explore our local tourist attractions. Local tourism would also encourage environmental conservation, and allow us the opportunity to play a role in educating others on the importance of environmental protection and sustainability. Our local species will also not go extinct if we value them and help protect them by educating our communities on the importance and value of our ecosystem, wildlife, and the flora and fauna in theseecosystems.
When the authenticity of African culture becomes diluted by the adoption and inclusion of foreign culture, we are left with skewed norms, values, and cultures to pass on to future generations. We are responsible for learning what authentic African culture is, from those who came before us, and it is upon us to pass on that culture to our young ones. We have a role to play in educating ourselves about our culture and educating the coming generations on that same culture. When we dilute this knowledge or the culture itself, we may pass on unauthentic African culture. The authenticity of our African culture is crucial to what Africa will become and the various ways that Africans will see themselves, their capabilities, and potential in the future. We are capable of being at the forefront of global leadership and success. Recognizing that Africa was great even before colonialism, is great now and will forever be great will unlock the minds of future African sons and daughters. As a result, we can pass on such pride, recognition, and appreciation of our culture and heritage to future generations via epigenetics, and as part of African DNA. We should also appreciate our religiosity, innovativeness, and the bravery that is part of African culture.
As fans of Black Panther, we have lost a significant part of Wakanda, Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa. May his soul rest in peace. Our hearts and prayers go to his family and the fans of Black Panther all over the world. The story of Wakanda is an excellent example of what Africans can be in the future if we nourish our own culture and create a cultural identity for ourselves. I am not saying that we do not have a culture that we can call our own, but we need to create a visible way of life and lifestyle that can become uniquely identified as authentically African. We should not be blind to the beauty of our home, Africa, and even as we grow to love and appreciate our genealogy, inner beauty, and the African way of life, we need to educate ourselves and others on Africanism.
Africa has so much to offer, and even readers can enjoy numerous African novels that have extensive insight into African life and African living. Literature is one way to preserve our culture, norms, values, and traditions, and we can learn from and teach others by reading African books. I find African novels to be so wonderous and adventurous. The kind of emotion and expression that you can find in said novels is mind-blowing. A lot of our culture is on print, and we need to visit our local libraries and explore the literature about African life. As a child, I have memories of perusing a french book about Kenya, and it was the most beautiful book I had ever seen. It was named ‘Au Kenya.’ Such literature and the numerous other historical books about our country and continent are crucial to understanding our culture, and its importance to us. I believe that Africa, like all other continents, should go with the times, and I challenge all of us to modernize authentic African culture. We should also shun traditions that have become passed by the times, such as female genital mutilation, FGM, and cattle rustling. By being African in a nourishing and healthy way, our culture will grow and influence other cultures.
African music, fashion, and stories are taking center stage on the global stage, and the world is recognizing the beauty and richness of African heritage. Africa is the most beautiful continent there is. The people are amazing, the food enticing, the music powerful and being in Africa is nothing short of experiencing adventure, freedom, and love. Africa welcomes everyone to see and to share in the adventure that is being African and living in Africa. Even as the world gets shaken by social-injustice and racism, Africa remains welcoming and inviting to all who have an eye for authentic African experiences. Kenya, in particular, is beyond what anyone can imagine, and there is so much for the adventurer to discover in our beautiful country. You can visit the beautiful Maasai Mara to watch the wildebeest migration, visit Lakes Bogoria and Nakuru to watch flamingoes, and even the Kenyan coast and Mombasa to enjoy sandy beaches on the shores of the Indian Ocean. There is so much to offer even for explorers and researchers who want to discover the cradle of humankind. We welcome everyone from all over the world to marvel at the beauty that is Africa, and more particularly, our beautiful country Kenya.