“the Africans”


Why are there books (like the selection pictured above) & online publications on post & neo-coloniaslim in Africa as well as important recent developments on the African continent on one hand IF on the other hand I am still terribly at unease writing about “the Africans”?

It’s not just the term “the Africans”, but also my arrogance to write about a third party.

I just found myself deleting an e-mail I had written to a client explainig the use of social media platforms by “the Africans”, because: who am I to explain e.g. what motivates “the Africans” in using social media tools (unless we are talking about Facebook Zero and other free stuff / communities)?

Would my reader be prepared enough to spot the difference between the stuff I know (facts), I assume (observations) and define as a conclusion?

Could the term “the Africans” only be possible when we’re also using “the Europeans”? Are these terms only used outside their initial territory?

My passport says I am German and I often also act that way, but to be honest: I know more about “the Africans” than about “the Europeans”. Does this qualify me to write an e-mail about “the Africans” – if instead I am maybe only talking about a certain age group from a region or about common user behaviour that’s rooted deep down in a historical context (like the lack of Intellectual Property Rights as argued by J.Shikwati & others)?

And: is this self-criticism a typical German thing?

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

2 thoughts on ““the Africans””

  1. Keep writing about Africa (individual countries, people, and stories) not necessarily the continent. I notice on twitter that ‘Africa’ is a powerful name to have and that many small groups incorporate ‘Africa’ in their names, to make themselves appear larger & more powerful

  2. Thanks for reinstating the earlier comment that was “accidentally” deleted :)

    “The Africans” have long been assumed that they do not have a voice and it is only the others who can tell their story. Such a sad state of affairs but what is worse is that these books will top best-selling lists not only in New York, London, Berlin and Tokyo but also Nairobi, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Lagos plus many more.

    Until when the lion can learn to tell his story, tales will always glorify the hunter ~ African proverb

Comments are closed.