Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Human Equal

Last night I listened to a talk that really inspired me on the Nigerian based Blog - Art Speak Africa - run by the Curator, Bisi Silva.

I heard, for the first time ever, this phrase: "The Human Equal", from a talk given by Chimamanda Adichie, the Nigerian novelist; who was speaking at a conference in October of last year for TED
Words Worth Spreading. You can find the speech on the ArtSpeakAfrican Blog and listen to her strong words on the subject of the Single Story, which I found so interesting and quite brilliant.

Here is the link, for please copy and paste this link to view to the talk.

I think the ideal of "The Human Equal" is an ideal certainly worth fighting for and if necessary dying for. The way in which Chimamanda spoke at the Conference was truly groundbreaking. With great humour and humanity to all she opened up the flood gates for all those interested in the subject of Africa and the perception of Africans seen inside and outside of the Continent to take their part in building a better and brighter future. She quietly encouraged all those interested in the delicate issues of an extremely complex culturally diverse subject to take their place if they wished but on the understanding that they were sensitive and respectful enough to recognise the enormity of the task ahead. She spoke with great diplomacy of a "Coming of Age" of sorts for the Continent of Africa but more specifically Nigeria. She spoke of the development going on within the Continent itself and stood up to declare that many parts of the Continent of Africa were beginning to successfully culturally develop themselves without the assistance of foreign influences. There are still so many barriers to break down before the gates fully open to the concept of "The Human Equal". So many doors that still need to be opened and kept open.

I was so delighted to hear a woman speak so eloquently on the subject of trying to achieve “the Human Equal”, and delivering a talk with such intelligence and grace. This concept of ‘the Single Story’ opposed to ‘the Balance of Stories’ is a refreshingly sophisticated philosophical approach to modern Nigerian thought. These views are coming for some of the greatest creative minds on earth and there is an obvious sea-change happening in our world as woman such as Chimamanda from Nigeria and Tracey Rose of South Africa and others across the Continent are beginning to address the real issues of contemporary Africa. They are actively attacking and trying to dispel the preconceived ideas of the way in which Africa and Africans have previously been judged; trying to disperse the notion of “the African Exotic” and move ever closer towards the intellectual elite of the rest of the world. Alongside writers such as Chinua Achebe, Sefi Atta, Aminatta Forna, Jack Mapanje and others, Chimamanda is taking on the global mind-set that has been instilled into the black and white middle-classes across the entire world and ambitiously trying to decode the stereotype that artists from the Continent are in some way intellectually inferior to their Western counterparts. I do sincerely hope that this wave of change turns into a full blown Tsunami.

© Joe Pollitt | 2010

1 comment:

Sane said...

My thought on this push to equality among humans is that first Africa must start to look to Africa not the Western World. Africa is not yet aware of her economic potential, her wealth under the ground, and of how beautiful her natural environment really is. Africa now stands with all the people needed for an internal African market, almost ONE BILLION, plenty of land for agriculture,mining,tourism, forestry, industry,etc. I dare say Africa cannot and must not look to the West with their futile and complex systems many of which are not applicable in Africa. Instead we must look to trade with our African neighbours and break the colonial mental prisons left by use of inhibitive European languages and culture on the whole.The Cultural contribution in this shall really take root when African artists start also to desire to explore their African roots nad make contact one with another, east Africa to west Africa,north Africa to south Africa. We must break this unhealthy fixation with all things Western. Modernisation is not equal to Westernisation. Japan showed that and now China is also showing that to some extent. WE MUST MAINTAIN OUR AFRICAN IDENTITY. By Eria Nsubuga