Prof Pius Adesanmi take on backwater America 

“Famine and starvation in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria: largest humanitarian crisis in the history of the UN” – Screaming Western headlines. Daily headlines.
For much of 2017, headlines of starvation and famine threatening more that 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia have been a standard fare in the West.
Two weeks ago, a concerned Oyinbo colleague here finally asked about my family. “Pius, you still got fam’ly in Nigeria, right? Are they okay? Is there anything we can do?”
Last week, a concerned old friend, an American colleague, also called to assure me that his thoughts and prayers were with me and my family. “You still have fam’ly in Nigeria right? Can you evacuate them? How did it get so bad?”
In both instances, I accepted the greetings and expression of sympathy wearily. I have been explaining Africa’s multiple, complex, and nuanced stories for 20 uninterrupted years in North America. Everyday, something happens and you have to start making the same explanations all over again.
I wasn’t in the mood to start explaining that Mama Adesanmi and my people in Isanlu are eating pounded yam and bush meat and downing it with palm wine. 
Mama Adesanmi, for her part, has no way of knowing that on the pages of Western media and in Western headlines, she is being reduced to a victim of Boko Haram because the Boko Haram-induced starvation in one state of Nigeria is being used to represent the entire country. 
180 million people are lumped with South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen because of one state. When it comes to narrating Africa, folks here don’t do nuance.
How do you even make these explanations without appearing to water down the very real issue of starvation in that particular corner of Nigeria?
So, I accepted the sympathies. And my position in the company of Yemen, Somalia, and South Sudan.
And now I am resisting the temptation to phone my American friend and sympathize with him and wonder how things got so bad in the US?
After all, the headlines I am seeing today say that the US is now in the company of Syria and Nicaragua.
Buddy, is there anything I can do to help?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s