Africa my Africa. The second largest continent with 54 countries and a population of about 1.3 billion people. A vast land rich in culture, history and resources with diverse tribes and languages but unified by common experiences that include colonialism and slavery that seems to have stripped us of our original identity.
It seems our past continues to haunt us and we struggle to find ourselves in the midst of bad leadership and poverty that has denied us the growth and development we deserve. Despite the natural wealth of several nations, basic infrastructure like pipe-borne water, electricity, good roads, schools and hospitals are lacking and beyond the reach of the average African who lives on less than one dollar a day.
Our rich history is filled with stories of great empires like Mali, Benin and Ghana that spread across the land with mighty warriors who defended, protected and expanded trade. Mineral resources such as oil in Nigeria, gold in Benin, diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, titanium in Gambia and cash crops like cocoa, cotton, groundnuts in Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria respectively are available in abundance but due to greed, exploitation and tribal wars the people of the continent have not experienced the benefits of these resources.
My life as an African, a Nigeria, has been filled with a lot of hardship. I live in a community where resources are limited and basic infrastructure also does not exist. My mother who works hard as a hairdresser struggles to feed us and we live under difficult circumstances. However, I believe in the power of an education which is the one thing that keeps me going. I hope that with an education I can change my family’s story by being independent and successful. This is the story and dream of many African youths.
As a 21st Century African I believe the story of Africa can change too if we have future leaders who care about their citizens and have the best interest of their nations at heart. With an education we learn and we can empower ourselves, our families and our communities. I also know an education makes us understand how to use what we have to make our lives better. With technology we are able to learn, share and organize. We can improve and return to agriculture and use move advanced equipment for farming and mining our natural resources to benefit and develop our industries and countries. We can also make our countries more globally attractive for tourism with the natural beauty of the land, rivers and coastlines.
I still have hope for the 21st Century Africa, with all its challenges. I dream of a day when I can say like the poem by David Diop:
“That is your Africa springing up anew springing up patiently, obstinately Whose fruit bit by bit acquires The bitter taste of liberty”
I believe in the future of a new Africa rising to shine.