What does it mean to be an African in the 21st century?

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Historically to be an African meant enslavement, it meant bondage, it meant subservience. Today to be an African means appropriation but acceptance. With the rise of popular culture, being black is now seen as chic. If people took the time to learn about our culture, to educate themselves, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Rather than deliberating on the topic of appropriation we would be celebrating the topic of education. Take, for example, the dashiki. The dashiki was a loose-fitting pullover that the Yoruba men wore on the farms. How many people at Milan Fashion Week do you think knew that?

I am not against cultural convergence, quite the opposite; I believe that the convergence of cultures is one of the ways we will be able to eradicate the many social differences we possess as a human race. But when cultures converge, we must not lose the significance the individual cultures add to the overall harmony of a piece. The dashiki kimono is a symbol of human evolution. By combining the fabric that was used on the farms by the Yoruba people, with the style of the kimono we are showcasing a movement into a new era, in which the drive, grit, and desire of the Africans (shown in the dashiki) is being put in the spotlight (shown in the kimono — a Japanese symbol of elegance and wealth.)

To be an African in the 21st century means that we are often isolated in our perceptions and ways of thinking. What our parents and grandparents saw as tradition, we now see as backwardness. My grandmother, a fierce and passionate teacher worked tirelessly to send my mother and her two brothers and two sisters to school, but she still tells me “you need to learn how to cook, how will you survive in your husband’s house if you don’t know how to cook.”

Unfortunately, some of these sentiments are ingrained in our parents as well but with the growth of industrialization and the growing connectivity of the world, I could never accept these beliefs as my own. I don’t enjoy cooking, and marriage was, and never will be, a priority of mine. I want to study computer science, make art that exudes emotion, tell the tales of those who have no means to and I want to make the world a better place.

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