Sunday, 1 November 2015

Are Africans living in the West hypocrites?

Before I quit my Facebook, I used to be a very active writer. I used to discuss many different topics there, offering many of my friends different insights and ideas.

While many responses were approving and encouraging, I would occasionally get a bit of hostility.

This is a message I got in my inbox. I wouldn't say it was a necessarily bad message because the sender made some good points. However, the entire message was full of assumptions.

I chose to respond to each key point and also summarise them as a lot of us are susceptible to a case of TL;DR (too long; didn't read):

You write about Africa being disenfranchised and repressed but your ventures don't coincide with those views.

A lot of the work/ventures I did with regards to South Sudan was addressing some of the issues in the country, and also how the country is perceived and treated by outsiders. 

Africa is a continent and South Sudan is just a country within it, but besides speaking on the issues there, I have also done what I personally could for the country through my work/ventures. 

You live in England in comfort and style with more opportunities than most of my friends - it feels contradictory.

I was born and raised in Europe due to circumstances beyond my control. The mentioned contradiction is invalid in this case. I didn't choose to leave, sit on comfort, and continue to be a social commentator for people back home. 

Being here has afforded me with incredible opportunities, and I have made as much use of them as possible. However, while doing so I have never forgotten why I am here and what I have to do when I do go back home one day. 

I live in a comfort and luxury that my parents and myself have worked for. Drawing attention to the horrendous living conditions of most South Sudanese back home, does not mean I have to pack my bags and join them, especially when my 'mission' here is not yet complete.

Do you think there is value for someone in your position to not constantly show off your things, or are we to accept that you are a typical English college student / writer who just happens to have a deep connection to a very downtrodden people and wants to live both roles?

My 'deep connection' stems from the fact that they are my people. Therefore, it would be a great disservice if I did not speak about them.

Since starting, I suppose my journey of writing for, on and about South Sudan, I have had many appreciations for highlighting the issues within the country and for speaking about it on various platforms. 

Drawing attention does not mean I am attempting to vicariously live through the people I am speaking for. My 'activism' or whatever one would like to call it, did not come about the same time as the wave of keyboard/social justice warrior activism. It is something that has been ingrained in me. It's in my parents. It is in me. Speaking, discussing or writing about people who have been dealt a bad card in life for me is not a past-time or a temporary 'venture', it is permanent. It's not just for anyone to live in a way that is simply preventable.

Do you think the people you write about would be served by materialism, or offended?

My 'display' of materialism doesn't consist of expensive jewelry, clothing and unnecessary purchases. In fact, I rarely show-off anything I have. The type of materialism that offends not just the disadvantaged but me too, is incredibly prevalent in many places in Africa thanks to corruption or oil money. 

Hence, the better question is, how do people back home feel about government officials owning expensive cars and living affluent lifestyles, while most of the population lives under the poverty line? I'm sure they offend everyone more than I ever could.