I’m writing this from Nairobi, Kenya. It is a sunny morning, and my phone-based weather app says the temperature is 20 degrees outside.
“Why should all that sunshine go unused?” a voice keeps asking me. I will definitely venture outside, but first I have to share something about Africa. I have lately been thinking about this continent and the promise it has. It is there in the faces of young, jumpy children in my neighbourhood. It is written in the ground I walk on and programmed in the minds of my neighbours, my friends. There is a lot to reflect on about the continent and for me, it spells the word AFRICA.
No one should ever claim to have explored the world’s flora and fauna before visiting Africa. This is where wonders of the world happen — waterfalls, long and historic rivers, and mind-numbing structures like the pyramids in Egypt, name it. But those are the known ones. There are hundreds of great and unique places to be visited, memories to be made, and nature to be savoured. I have climbed Mt Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa, and the memories of the 2019 adventure are still fresh. There are hundreds of such places to be explored.
On my side of the world they say “Hakuna Matata”, that is, there is no reason to be alarmed. News reports might have made you think Africa a giant petri dish for sad, suffering, and resigned people. Even with its problems, people in Africa like a good laugh. They celebrate their milestones, toast to achievements. They believe in sharing and value a good neighbour. They fight for one and fight for all. They are curious, sensitive, and street-smart. Interacting with them leaves memories. I have read stories of visitors who came to Africa and were surprised by how much they did not understand Africa and Africans.
This is a rich continent by all standards. It has the land, the minerals and the right conditions to help anyone make a profit from a number of ventures. Remember the time when European powers were fighting over Africa? They had every reason to. This is the continent that produces 70% of the world’s cocoa. And 89% of the world’s gold is mined in Africa. I have seen families of settlers from other continents staying in Africa for 70 years and more, and that speaks to the opportunities available. Others are untapped to date.
Again, forget the one-sided stories you hear so often about Africa being a dark continent in terms of ideas. Within the continent are thinkers, researchers and inventors of repute. They may lack the government support that others get in other continents, but they are always looking for ways of solving day-to-day problems. And as the internet becomes a staple for everyone in Africa and with the emergence of 3D printing technologies and such innovations, intellectuals in Africa keep bridging that gap with the rest of the world. All I can say is: Watch this space!
This one needs no much expounding. There is (almost always) a good climate in Africa for touring, working, studying … whatever you wish to engage in. But there is another climate worth mentioning — the political climate. Reform is sweeping across Africa and with each coming day, citizens are demanding accountability from their governments. The days of strongmen who could wake up one day and chase away people from a country are getting behind us. We are witnessing more room for peaceful protest and an expansion of freedom of expression. Such a climate is great for advancement of ideas and for improving almost everything about Africa, from infrastructure to learning institutions and everything in between.
How many songs from Africa do you know? How many artists? How many authors? Also, have you seen the paintings coming from various parts of the continent? Africa is getting more interconnected, and it is not uncommon to hear Nigerian songs playing on Kenyan radio. Tanzanian songs are played in South Africa and Senegalese music enters playlists in Uganda. Congolese music playing in Egypt. Generally, a great exchange of ideas and art is happening in Africa and you need to be here to enjoy all that is to offer.
Now, my time to sunbathe. Happy Africa Day, everyone!