You want to know what connects us in Africa? It is the imbedded sense of community in our various cultures – irrespective of our nationalities. Harambe and Ujamaa are two non-english words (Swahili) we learnt at schools in Zambia which meant “extended family” and “coming together” respectively. These words were taught when introducing is to a community which is “a group of people working together”.
It is from this sense of community that the saying, “it takes the whole village to raise a child” was coined. In the good old days, this meant a neighbour coming to your doorstep and telling your parents “I whipped your child and mine” because I found them doing abc. Adults got involved in correcting bad behavior in the community.
The community also got involved and arrested issues before they came back to affect everyone. “What affects our neighbor affects us all”. People had to help rebuild houses before they got inconvenienced to accommodate a homeless family.
This part of our culture is still alive in us that it still moves us to take action whenever we see other people go through pain and suffering. The Zambian government once set up a bank account to help raise money for cyclone-hit Mozambique. We did our part and helped to alleviate the pain of fellow humans.
When acts of genocide were still happening, African countries lined up to accept refugees from Rwanda. Today we have Rwandan people fully integrated in their host countries’ communities without being confined in refugee camps. Their children are now our children. Rukundo (love).
Recent xenophobic attacks on “undocumented” migrants in South Africa moved the whole continent and sparked a backlash against South African owned businesses. Africans had decided to punish a fellow African country for mistreating Africans.
What brings us together as Africans? Love and compassion for fellow humans. We are moved by the pain of another person. Receiving visitors and entertaining them is considered a blessing so we go an extra mile to make them as comfortable as possible, even at our own expense. We are also united in protesting cruel and inhuman acts that show a lack of compassion.
We are different, yet connected. We are Africa