Identity not defined by borders in Africa

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As a continent with a horrid history of enslavement and colonisation, Africa has emerged from its dark past as the fastest-growing continent in the world. We, as Africans have never been more proud of ourselves than we are right now. Africa is a rainbow of races, ethnicities, tribes and peoples.

Although we are forced, on a global scale, to identify as nationals of particular countries, most of us know and understand that our identities have always transcended the boundaries of colonial empires. Many peoples and tribes identify with their brothers and sisters across the borders. If I may borrow the words of Mexicans from Texas, and I quote, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.”

Take Kenyan Somalis, for instance. They woke up one morning to find themselves as part of a nation whose borders were drawn by a group of white men who divided the land they had never set foot on. As such, we now have a tribe called Kenyan Somalis that could potentially have family all across the horn of Africa, some even extending to Ethiopia.

The aim of the show Young, Famous and African was to showcase the affluence and success of young Africans to the world, which is needed because we are all tired of misrepresentation by mainstream western media. However, it also made me realise that the representation was necessary for most Africans as we often forget that we could share cultures beyond borders.

I would like to use myself as an example. I have spoken many times about my cultural ambiguity, which is pretty much the norm in areas with a long history like the Sahel. The Sahel was the name given to the coastline of East Africa by Arab traders. We know most traders from the East (China, India, Arabia, and so on) arrived on the shores of East Africa long before the colonialists and explorers. Because of centuries of trade, most traders who settled down on the shores of East Africa eventually formed a similar culture and language along the coastline.

SourceThe star
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