Africans living on the
continent tend to seek out a single identity – an ‘African-ness’
that unifies them. Whether they are brown, white or black, they
speak of being ‘African’. There is something that they recognise in
each other that reflects being African.
Is there an Africa inside Africa? Are there universal African
In contrast, those in the Diaspora, from living outside the
continent, are acutely conscious of different views of Africa. Some
even ask – is there any real concept of ‘Africa’ within the
continent – or is it only the outsider’s view that brings the
continent into international perspective as a single entity?
At the Forum, during the discussion sessions and group
interactions, the African delegates in the room always introduced
themselves as nationals of their respective countries – not as
Africans first. Is this perhaps a reflection of the reality that
deep inside we are not Africans but merely part of a continent
Indeed Africa does not have a single
newspaper, television or radio network that addresses its ‘African’
audience exclusively. On the continent the media includes local
publications and broadcasts that provide only a minimal profiling of
the continent’s issues, along with local news. But no single
African-produced, dedicated service exists for the topic ‘Africa’.
Off and on the continent the BBC’s Network Africa morning
radio segment and CNN’s Africa Report and Inside
Africa provide the highest profile coverage. A few magazines
dedicated to Africa are also published in London. Ironically,
though, these international media treat the subject of ‘Africa’ in
almost the same way – as a section apart from their mainstream menu.
Perhaps this is a colonial legacy – for example francophone
West Africans think all Africans speak French and Americans are
always surprised how well East Africans speak English! Can Africa
aspire to have a single language? What language would that be?
English from England, French from France or Kiswahili, which is a
combination of Bantu and Arabic? Would choosing any of these serve
only to marginalise a huge section of the continent or would it
enable Africa to function more effectively internally alongside
wider recognition externally?