When the West volunteers itself to tell Africa’s narrative, it historically tells an extremely offensive post-colonial narrative of a “dark continent” filled with “savages,” in need of a western, usually white savior.
Indeed, over the past decade, I have written too many articles to count, criticizing this myopic and offensive view that fails to account for Africa’s rich contribution to the world’s civilization and devalues an entire continent, effectively crippling it from competing in the global economy.
If you guessed that the Discovery Channel is not one of my favorite channels, you guessed right. Africa, through its content (broadcast television, print, and digital) has been notoriously depicted as one big animal reserve. Worse, when it has the sense to go off the reserve to introduce us to its citizens, it is an equally negative one-sided story of poverty stricken people plagued with strange diseases, and who are constantly in a state of war and inflicting harm on one another. It is an exhausting and extremely offensive single story narrative.
Further, the world is always “gifting” Africa with something, and never the other way around. It is precisely the same criticism I had for Beyonce almost a year ago when she unveiled her album ‘The Gift’ and, in my view, had the audacity to play on the same narrative, especially the “I am here to save Africa through my generous donations” one.
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Notwithstanding, when the West gets it right, then it should be acknowledged. Beyonce’s latest audio-visual to her popular track ‘Already’ featuring Ghanaian artist Shatta Wale off the aforementioned album gets it right, in my view, in telling a respectful narrative about Africa.
Particularly profound, is her understanding that the “Black” man in America and wherever he may be found in the west, is a direct descendant of the African man, and that both are Kings. To underscore this, she rightfully places the African man via Shatta on a King’s throne. This singular act, in my view, is so powerful and a step in the right direction to begin shattering the very destructive narrative of Africans and correspondingly Black people, globally.
How many times has the western narrative placed the African man in the wild, or in a weak, helpless and completely reliant on the west to save him, his family and country, as I previously discussed? It’s the single myopic and deeply offensive narrative of an entire continent that, in my view, the imagery of Shatta on the throne begins to break.
I note that Beyonce incorporates a lot of African youth culture from the trendiest dance moves to fashion, and art. But it never feels inappropriate or that she is trying to do anything than pay tribute to the creators of such a vibrant emerging global pop culture. I am unsure if this converts me to a die-hard fan. But she certainly earns my respect for a job well done.
Please note I have not seen her full visual album ‘Black is King’, yet. My opinion as to the entire body of work may differ when I do and I, needless to say, reserve the right to share my thoughts accordingly.
Watch the ‘Already’ video below and let me know your thoughts on her depiction. Do you agree with my take?
Photo credit: Shatta Wale/Twitter
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