Home > Society > African Voices On > Does Skin Colour Define Being African?

This is a question that has baffled many a mind. It is mired in complexity, confusion, bitterness and a lot of flawed history. It is that one question whereby when you finish tackling it, sufficient answers many not even be proffered.

Since Black people have been the inhabitants of Africa, the general assertion goes on to postulate that Black people have the right to be called the genuine Africans. What’s being African? Who is an African? Are whites who live in Africa also called Africans? Are coloureds Africans? The people from North Africa, are they Africans? Are black Americans Africans? The questions to this effect are endless.

It is with modern history that these terminologies have stemmed up. In Ancient Africa there were no such demarcations on identity. The people who inhabited the continent classified themselves as belonging to kingdoms, religions and ethnic groups. It becomes clear that this question has now arisen due to 18th, 19th and 20th centuries developments. And with more pronounced events of the 21st century.

Hence the conflict comes in on the line between the terms “Black” and “African.” Blackness is a term that was bestowed on the continent’s people by their oppressors but being African is a matter which relates one to their land, history and culture. History doesn’t fail us in telling us that race theories have been constructed to suit the needs of some callous Whites/Europeans.

The issue of race identity is essential in giving people values and tenets that they identify themselves with and live with. However over the years the race institution has been perverted in order for some to gain while others lose.

The colour of one’s skin must not make a person be confined to the prescribed societal norms. If a white person feels he connects with the African culture more, then there is no reason for them to be cast aside. If they are willing to help in the struggle, then they connect with the real problems that plague the continent of Africa. Likewise a coloured is also an African, if they share the continent’s sentiments as a people.

In another dimension, for some, skin colour is everything. If you are white you are white. There’s no middle ground. However, living on the same continent, it becomes prudent of people to embrace their differences and move forward. The issue of skin colour sows divisive seeds.

For me, whatever you skin colour is, if you truly feel African then you are an African. If you are committed to the struggle that everyone resonates, then we are just people. The reality on the ground is different: skin colour still has a strong impact especially in countries like South Africa where racist incidences are very high.

We are one people on one continent. We are living in a time where unity is mostly needed and the race divisions are no longer necessary.


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