24 Oct 2014

Stereotypes, this is something we constantly have to fight as individuals. We form generalizations about people we do not know to guide us better when we interact with them. This is how we have evolved, retaining some of our more base survival instincts. Sometimes these generalizations are helpful, and actually help avoid conflict, but most of the time, stereotypes are malicious and vindictive, exaggerating the worst of group's qualities and judging or marginalizing everyone who loosely falls into that group. Nigerians are culprits of stereotyping, and while that is something that needs to be discussed. This piece is just an introduction to shed light on how stereotyping from the developed world affects us. Here's a video to demonstrate.

Shot and directed by volunteers of the Mama Hope foundation, this video is a parody that sheds light on the very real problem of stereotyping of African Men in Western Media, especially Hollywood. i have to admit, even I fell victim to preconceived notions that hold a western tinged accent over an indigenous one. I actually assumed that the men in the video were blue collar workers at best, because they were not dressed in snazzy suits and possessing accents that had a tinge of the West. Just like everyone I was surprised and humbled by how ambitious they were in their chosen fields.

This kind of stereotyping is particularly sad because a majority of the intellectual workforce in many developed countries are comprised of Africans sojourning there in search of a better life. But there is not just a stereotyping of what the people of Africa are supposed to be, there are also well enforced stereotypes of what African people are supposed to want or need, particularly from the West. There are many, many articles that decry Western Celebrities looking for good publicity or a career boost, who come down to Africa to provide 'boreholes' to starving villages or bring 'awareness' to war torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia during the decades of Charles Taylor's tyranny. These celebrities come in completely unprepared and flail through their stays in Africa, detaching every now and then from the Humanitarian work which supposedly brought them to Africa to utilize prime 'photography' moments. 

With Nigeria currently plagued by our battle with Boko Haram, we have yet again been thrust into this stereotype in all media. Most news agencies; electronic, print and audiovisual harp exclusively on the threats issued and damage wrought by Abubakar Shekau and the adherents to his extremist brand of Islam. With all that is happening, it wont be long before Nigerian born militants and terrorists begin to appear in Hollywood Action Blockbusters, threatening to blow up planes and kill people. And even quicker before we begin to hear stories of Aid and Grants being considered. 

So what then is the solution. First, we need to fight the stereotypes from within. Stereotypes thrive because the subject of said stereotypes allow them to be perpetuated. Fighting against the stereotype that Africans and Africa is a country, that our men are violent and our women are docile and long suffering, that we are primitive or even that we all wear the same military uniforms and are perpetually blood thirsty. That is why this parody music video by the guys over at Radi-Aid, a South African group dedicated to fighting stereotypes about Africa made me smile. They're right, Norway has terrible winters too, and we have eternal sunshine, they probably need our aid. Enjoy the video below.

Videos embedded from Youtube, content belong to MamaHope.Org and Radi-Aid

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