The Story of an Hour: Breaking African Stereotypes in the West
Battling Misconceptions: The African Experience in America
The story About Africa has never changed as a single story, which has created stereotypes and myths of African life. When a unique story is appraised, it becomes the only story and ends up being everyone`s perspective of the story. Growing up in a rural-urban African village in East Africa, it is the most beautiful region to go on a vacation with green grass, and dew brushed on top of the clover leaves of early morning sunshine. I have always known that Africa is a prosperous and diverse cultured continent that embraces over fifty-four countries. Seven years since I came from Africa to America, and through this time, I have heard all kinds of stories of what Africa is.
On my first day in high school, I can vividly remember my American classmates shocked to see who I was. They asked me where I learned to speak English so well and were confused when she told them Uganda happened to have English as the official language. In her music class, she was asked to sing one of my tribal songs, and she was disappointed when I sang “Baby” by Justin Bieber. During lunchtime, I would sit alone and eat the cold leftovers that Mom cooked. A few students would walk by me pretending to befriend me but bust out in laughter at me eating roaches and worms. Sometimes, to avoid the rumors, I would eat in class, isolated from everyone. These stories were so much for my little head to wrap around, and at times, I thought maybe I was a disgusting monster in the real world.
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Overcoming Challenges: A Journey of Resilience and Pride
A stereotype of being perceived as poor living in a land of the starving. Poverty is indeed a real-life block, but not every African family goes to sleep with food or water in a pot. During the harsh climate seasons, heavy rains, or drought, our grandparents always had food stored for emergency times like these. I never went hungry for a day hungry, and sometimes there wasn`t enough, but grandma would go hungry and make sure the children ate. Just like any country with street children and the homeless, churches would donate food to feed them and shelter the sick ones.
Education has become the number one pathway to success and career goal achievement. When I present in class, I get stage fright not because I am nervous or unprepared but because the audience is already uninterested in my presentation even before I speak. I took a speech class, and one day, the professor asked me to write a story about my choice of Africa. After the presentation, he commented that my presentation was not African-authentic enough. I was bewildered and never really understood how a story could lack authenticity. I would appreciate it if I had grammar errors or sentence structure.
Debunking the Myth: Africa’s Undervalued Healthcare Traditions
I never really got to understand why my friends would never share food with me. Later on, let me spend the night and share clothes and shoes. It was not until I was sharing a room with my American roommate she told me she did not want to become diseased like I was. She said to me Africans do not take baths and have no toilets but use bushes to help themselves. Every time she would come home, she would slam the door, and “yuck, yuck,” she spat when she saw me. I showered three times a day and spent my money on perfume and nice clothes, but she, deep down, believed I smelt like a pig.
The media portrays a vast harmful exposure of stories about legendary Africa, which perceives Africans to have little to no healthcare systems. Pictures of sick people in hospitals without medical help, the long wait lists for surgery, and patients dying before being taken to a doctor. The medical status in Africa is not well equipped, but our ancestors lived longer with just general knowledge and local medicine. My grandmother is a retired doctor, and she helped and nursed people in our village.
The Power of Authentic Narratives: A Plea for Open-mindedness
A big building with technology and an advanced computer has never saved a patient, but passion and hard work. When I got into a relationship, trust was a hard rock to stumble on. The only man I thought would be the light that shines on my darkest night thought that because I was African, I had AIDS. It took unbearable conversation and explanations to this man that I got so many blood tests and immunizations, and I told him I visited the doctor’s office more than he has in life.
Over five thousand people apply for the same job, people graduate through universities and cannot find a job, and many of them walk from one job interview to another until their shoe soles fall away. Dust fades on their faces, and shame eats up their joy. People have always heard only one story about Africa. Stereotypes have created a drastic image of what real Africa looks like.
If everyone reads up on the news updates or takes a trip to African countries, they would have a different story, and just because we are from different continents does not justify we are different but rather similar as human beings. Africans had feelings and pain and suffered through tragedies. Stereotypes should not define a place or people, but if people learn from each other, the world would never be so apart.
- Adichie, C. N. (2009). The danger of a single story. TED Talks.
- Mwangi, E. (2015). English in East Africa: Historical Foundations and Modern Controversies. Oxford University Press.
- Nkrumah, S. (2017). Dispelling Myths: The Realities of African Daily Life. African Journal of Social Studies.