Inspired by a slogan I once saw on local lifestyle apparel brand which goes History depends on who wrote it, I felt it important to use the 52nd celebration of Africa Day; one of our founding strides in being recognized as free and sovereign people, as a platform to collectively rethink our brand as Africans.
So as with most branding exercises, let’s start with the name itself… Now I choose to go with the notion that we need to revert to this land mass’ ancestral name being Alkebulan: Google the meaning and you will find it’s quite a fair descriptor of the people of the land. A continental name change may sound rather grandiose and superficial, but ask the average guy on the street to give you his/her thoughts on what Africa means or stands for, and chances are that the spontaneous descriptions would be peppered with words like corrupt, backward, poor, underdeveloped and the list may continue. The reality is that we’re a people fraught with those challenges, and we need to continually work at correcting these ills so that we build more powerful institutions and companies that can be global best practice.
We need to rethink which elements of our collective cultural make up we want to dial up to build greater confidence for us to be global beaters. As much as one needs to know where one comes from to know where one is going, how many more emerging or even established actors do we need to see winning awards for playing slaves and disenfranchised people? Does anyone remember Meteor Man, Luke Cage, Nana Yaa Asantewa or even Emperor Menelik II? We need to unearth more of these heroes and refresh their relevance, with the same urgency shown in the Rhodes must fall campaign, lest we carry on with a society and schooling system that grooms our children with the same misinformed view of who they are that we have had for generations.
Intracontinental collaboration efforts need to be made to ensure we empower the likes of Kantanka Automobiles to gain the same street cred, that we have given to the Gusheshes and Cara Caras of the world. We need to take inspiration from our continent’s new economic powerhouse, Nigeria, in being a nation of people proud enough to dress in traditional attire when addressing world leaders. We need to more families such as the Royal Bafokeng, to demonstrate best practice for building generational wealth that benefits an entire nation.
These are some of the areas we need to consider in order to overhaul our current standing in the world and to overcome challenges such as xenophobia which is symptomatic of a people suffering from self-hate, leading them to senseless killings in the face of competition for resources.
The shift from “dark continent” to the last investment frontier should spark a paradigm shift of who we are and what we can offer, because if James Allen’s words are anything to go by then so as the African thinketh, then so is he.
Writer: Lerato Moleko