Dok: The Dark Continent Will Light Up

Akol Dok

Feed the children. UNICEF. HIV-AIDS assistance. These are the things that you think of when you hear about Africa.

To me, Africa is a continent with a bright future. Botswana has grown at nearly 9 percent economic growth, Lake Malawi has more fish species than any other freshwater system on earth, and before colonial rule Africa comprised up to 10,000 different states and autonomous groups with diverse languages and customs. Those 10,000 different states were transformed by European imperialist into 54 states.

Africa is now a continent that is believed to be a country. When people generalize they say Africans, Africa, but fail to realize that this is one of the most diverse continents on the planet.

Africa is an invisible continent now because many educated people in the world can’t name even twenty African countries or point out different nations on the map.

The Western world is to blame for this issue. People educated in the West obtain highly sought after degrees, but do not understand basic world geography. This lack of understanding is dangerous because a majority of Westerns go to Africa for humanitarian aid and development.

People see Africa as a place filled with poor people, famine, poverty, and immense underdevelopment. This statement is validated by the phrase “don’t throw away food there are starving kids in Africa”. There are also starving kids in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

Media portrays Africa as a place to avoid in need of dire help. Africa is filled with rich culture and civilization. King Musa of the Mali Kingdom is considered the richest man in history. When the King traveled he would carry so much gold and devalue the currency of foreign city states.

For the rest of the world African history seems to have started after white Europeans and began the Atlantic slave trade.

The richness of Africa and their black people is not taught in education systems and the curriculum only briefly covers these topics. Black History Month teaches people about Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. We rarely hear about Benjamin Banneker who constructed the first functioning clock in America.

We rarely hear about how the Ancient Egyptian kingdoms influenced the Greeks who influenced the Romans who now influenced Western culture. The Egyptians were one of the many kingdoms in Africa and African city states had great economic trading commodities such as gold, silver, fruits, vegetables, and various resources.

This lack of understanding towards Black Americans and Black Africans hurts both Africans and non-Africans. Without understanding your roots and history you will not have a sense of value and worth. On the other side, if you don’t know another individual’s cultural background and history it will be hard for you to understand their point of view.

Modern African history has been shaped by Christianity and Islam as well as strong European, Arab, and now Chinese influence. Africa is currently undertaking a myriad of civil wars and conflicts; but these won’t be seen on the news. Islam terrorism is a hindrance to progress in East, North, and West Africa. Africa is forgotten by the world when it comes to global politics and influenced.

We need to pay more attention to this continent and the impact it has on the world. Africa produces oil, diamonds, and a myriad of natural resources that help the Western world. During the World Wars, over tens of millions of Africans helped the Allied powers.  British and French colonies were deprived of their resources to help the European Allied war effort.

Africa is a continent not a country, and its citizens are diverse from many tribes, ethnic groups, and cultures. Its rich culture and it’s history is forgotten even by its own citizens. This continent is the up-slope overcoming colonization and imperialism. The African people must be seen by world like everybody group of people, and not a place to make yourself feel better through humanitarian assistance.