Since I promised to write regularly, I decided to write on a topic which is the premise of a short film I am applying to get a grant for. It is about the African identity, this is funny cos everywhere I turn to, the topic keeps coming up. In July, at the accra project it was one of the topics we discussed and it was interesting the views I got from the other participants from different parts of Africa.
Then there are the names, Africanism, panafricanism, transafricanism, afropolitan.
The fundamental question is what is the definition of the true African? Does it have to do with living on the continent? What about the half caste? Sorry, the mulatto, the biracial. The Africans living in the diaspora? What about the light skinned Africans? The ones who live in northern Africa who are mostly classified to be MENA, meaning Middle East and North Africa.
Is finding the African identity the problem plaguing us?
So is it the hair? The African print? The lingo? What exactly is it?
Some people believe it is about dreadlocks? I mean if I decide to lock my hair, it is not because of what it means but how practical it is for me due to my busy schedule.
Some dreadlocks are just bushy and tacky, you wonder if it is a taboo to put water on the head. Some people have colonies of lice growing on their heads as I write, all in the name of being identified as African.
So what about African dressing? Am I less african if I decide to wear suits and jeans? Or is it until I wear cowries on my head and bright Ankara. Come on!
Then there is this question about African literature. It led me to an argument with fellow writers on who an African writer is. I mean how can an African who has never set foot on the African soil, has not breathe the air or lived our dreams dare to write on what is perceived to be African literature.
Even as for me, as I write this in English language. I mean isn’t language a part of the identity I so seek.
Some of us can not even communicate in our own language and yet we pride ourselves on how we can speak the linguafranca with such finesse.
I am lost at to what the definition of an African is. Thus one of the reasons I am exploring this with the short film screenplay I am writing.
If I, born and bred here in Africa can have a problem grappling with my identity, how much more the African descendants living in the diaspora.
I have white skinned Nigerian cousins who speak our language but I am sure will never step on the Nigerian soil till they die.
Are we not going to lose our essence as civilization grows?
I will update you with progress on my screenplay as I go on.
Have I told you I am working on a film on the child bride northern Nigeria issue with a friend. After writing what I thought to be a final draft, I received a document compiled by the population council and I was really amazed at what I read, the pains, the trials these children and women in general face in our society just for being women. Hopefully, our film will keep the conversation going and we will help effect changes because it is not as much as doing the talking that matters but the effect it has. Will we change the norm?