O Mang: Let’s reassess our Afrikan identities

By Nompumelelo Zinhle Manzini

“Asses and re-assess
Define and redefine who you are!
You’ve submitted to their traps, submitted to their standard!
You’ve welcomed their bars- and you’ve created a home for their mental shackles.
You’ve allowed them to lay the bricks for the path that you’re travelling!
Are you walking or are you stumbling?

Break down those walls and break down those bars!
I challenge you:
Before you depart can you break free without falling apart?

Stop looking for truth in other people and start looking for it within yourself!
O mang mo Afrikan, o mang?
Sheba nnete ya gago gore wena o mang?

When we ask: “Who are you?”
Will you be able to answer us?
Or will you just purge yourself into the depths of someone else’s whole?

Assess and reassess
Define and redefine who you are!
Rather set your own traps!
Set your own standards...your own bars!
And stop looking for truths in others-
Dare to search your own soul!

And define who you are according to your own standards!”

It’s time that we as Afrikans reassess and redefine ourselves, our roots and embrace everything that has made us the Afrikans that we are today. It is time that we people of “Afrikan” or “African” origin come together to celebrate our culture and heritage. It is indeed time that we stop celebrating our Akrikaness only when is suits them and make it an everyday celebration. We need to start owning the tenets of our gun-shaped continent and show the rest of this universe that they cannot define us! Instead we should define ourselves, according to our own norms and standards!

As we mark the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union on the 25th of May - I think that we should go back to the founding principles and philosophies of the organisation and really remind ourselves why the organisation was found. Concurrently, we must also go back and look at what makes us the Afrikans that we are today. It seems as though most of us have forgotten and lost our Afrikan identities, instead we have gone on this relentless onward march to submit to identities that are foreign to us.

Perhaps, you think that going back is not necessary, because it will just remind you of all the pains and repression that our ancestors went through. However, I beg to differ! The pains and repression that our ancestors went through, contributes greatly to our Afrikan identities. Whilst, my sister still introduces herself as “Boy-to-melow” instead of “Boitumelo” to her white counter-parts because she just wants to make it easier for them to pronounce, then indeed it is necessary for us to go back and remind her that the very same white-counter parts contributed to her ancestors’ repression.

I urge to remind you that being Afrikan should not only be seen in the attire that you will ‘cherry-pick’ to wear only on the 25th or when it is a wedding, but that being Afrikan is a daily journey where you will treat the street sweepers and the woman who cleaned that public toilet that you just used yesterday with respect. Furthermore, it means embracing your individual Afrikan culture but also the Afrikan culture as a whole- including the Ethiopians who supplied you with the bread that you have packed as a sandwich this morning. Being an Afrikan is not only marked by the colour of your skin, but also by the mentality that you choose to have!

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