Afro-Responsibility Course Part 5

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African Identity and Entrepreneurship

"If we don’t define for ourselves what it means to be African, we surrender the term to populists, politicians and reactionaries. We do so at our peril"

 Chris Roper -

Over the years, there have been many debates about who can claim African identity.

 Is it the black person who originates from the African continent, even if they have now migrated to another continent? 

Is it the Black American, whose ancestors where forced abroad by slave trade?

What about the Caucasian who has found a home in post colonial Africa and knows no other place to call home?

These questions have brought havoc, rousing anger and a feeling of oppression in all people who might fit into the above three categories.

The native black Africans experienced an identity crisis with the coming of Western values. These values, perceived or real, affected every area of life. Kinky hair was neglected for silky straight hair. Skin bleaching became a very real issue. Education and governance was and still is Western based. African kingdoms and dynasties were disrupted by geographical partition and democracy. So many things were given up and so many things changed. While colonialism has since been abolished, it's "pouvoir-savoir" approach left a lasting dent which still exists in Africa today.  French philosopher, Michel Foucault coined the term power-knowledge (pouvoir-savoir) to indicate the involvement of knowledge in the maintenance of power relations. By superimposing their knowledge on Africa, colonialists maintained a dominant upper hand over Africans. Most institutions are based on western knowledge, including medical institutions and this has rendered indigenous knowledge inferior. It might be for this reason that native black Africans insist on defining African Identity by origin and not just residence.

Pre-colonial Africa was a very diverse continent filled with different cultures and languages. Post-colonial Africa added more dimensions and complex variables described above, to this diversity. 

So what does it mean to you to be African? 

We believe being African, is having a heart for humankind as a collective, a strong will to innovate and survive alongside the provisions of nature and culture.

Your perception of your identity as a young African entrepreneur can affect your mindset positively or negatively. It can make or break your confidence in your entrepreneurial skills and career