Sunday, April 17, 2022

It is not a race thing

"a race thing"

I don't know what to is about the troubles that we face that automatically leads us to assume that "Black people lack something". One of my seniors at the Bar is afflicted by this syndrome. Some of the more libertarian-minded among us think that Black Africans are incapable of appreciating the liberty that caucasians seem to take for granted. In any case, these Black people express an inferiority complex that is both baffling and complex.

I have had the privilege of visiting the United States and Australia; I stayed for three months in Accra and have made several forays to Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kigali. My visits to Washington DC and Sydney invited the casual racism that seems to pervade those world capitals, while my stay in Dar es Salaam and Accra was like a coming home event. I was among my people. I was among friends. That is not the same in some bits of my country; I can count the number of times my visits to Malindi or Mombasa have not been accompanied by casual racist bullying even by fellow Black Kenyans.

But at no point has it ever occurred to me that Black Kenyans were in any way inferior to the apparently "developed" Europeans and North Americans. Our economies and politics appear to be shambolic, but can you imagine trying to access basic health services in a US hospital? Your Blackness, successful or not, will not insulate you from the scorn of the British upturned nose. Witness the degrading language used to describe Rishi Sunak, the British chancellor of the exchequer.

Kenya, and many African countries, face many structural challenges. But these challenges are not as a result of the fact that we suffer congenital racial defects. That is not a question that should occur to us. We can point to the corruption that is supercharged by the presence of corrupt Europeans and North American government officials and multinational CEOs. Or the flawed economic and financial policies that underpin the global economic and financial order overseen by the twin succubi of the World Bank and IMF.

I promise you, brethren, that being Black is not a defect. It is many things, but it is not a defect. Don't fall for the trick of associating Black with evil, with bad, with wrong-ness. I can't articulate why I know Black is not wrong; I feel it in my bones and in the depths of my soul. I am not racially inferior to anyone. My people are not racially inferior.


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