Courtesy Reuters

The Importance of Being Black

AN ASIAN LOOKS AT AFRICA

AFRICA poses a challenge largely because of its unpredictability. The Dark Continent, to some extent the Unknown Continent, it has come up politically with a rush; the postwar fever for independence catapulted some 30 states into freedom within a decade. Culturally, vast tracts of Africa have leaped from the Stone Age to the twentieth century in a matter of three generations. Growing industrialization in the cities and towns between the two wars and after has led to a migration from the bush to the developing urban centers which has affected not only the economic but the social and political values of the African; uprooted from his tribal moorings and exposed to a new way of life, thought and civilization, he finds himself embarked on a voyage of rediscovery which concerns not only his individual self but his people and country.

If the African's voice on attaining freedom and equality has seemed to some unnecessarily shrill and strident, who can blame him? Men who climb out of a dark void are dazzled by the light. The speed of Africa's lightning advance and arrival took the rest of the world by surprise. It also surprised Africa. In their attitude to that continent and its people both Europe and Asia are afflicted by a guilt complex-Europe as the main exploiter and Asia as its abettor; and both of them, recovering from the first rude shock, do not know quite where to fit in the new arrival who until yesterday was an outsider. They wonder whether all the rules of the game are applicable to him. And Africa, uncertain of its own place, tends to draw attention to itself by alternately bawling like a neglected infant or, in its adult moments, treading deliberately on other people's toes or, more aggressively, punching the nearest nose within reach. While Africa regards the West as being unduly complacent, the West accuses Africa of being unnecessarily truculent. Asia's heart is with Africa though her head

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