Why is Africa full of “First-World” wannabe a-lot-of-things… and people?

Music. Movies. Parties. Restaurants. Clubs. Hangouts. Beaches. Churches. Streets. Neighbourhoods. TV Shows. Radio Shows. Schools. Offices. Jobs. Banks. Businesses. Policies. Garages. Supermarkets. Malls. Shops. Markets. Farms. Salons. Lounges. Fast foods. Hairstyles. Clothes. Fashion agencies. Fashion shows. Friendships. Families. Personalities…. All victims of the “First World” wannabe syndrome!

Definition of wannabe: Poser, follower, a charlatan of sorts. One who copies or imitates all or most of the aspects dealing with their idol. They may wish to have certain clothing, skills, vocabulary, etc., of their idols instead of their own. Most likely a wannabe is lacking in self-confidence and is looking for guidance. (Source: urbandictionary.com)

wannabe4

For a long time – maybe, for as long as it has been known as “Africa” – Africa, or at least a huge part of it, has been referred to as a “Third-World”, in opposition to the “First World” which in general refers to Europe, North America and quite a few Asian countries today. Since then, some Africans, wherever they are, have been striving to push their countries to First place. Looking at the competition World we live in, I think it’s a normal reaction. Nobody wants to be third – and last actually – when there’s first place.

But WHAT makes us third? Who said we have to be like Europe and America to be “worthy”? What’s the standard here? Spare me your lectures in Economics; I had a lot of those in University. What I’m talking about here is what really matters… WHAT REALLY MATTERS?!

I was laying in my bed yesterday thinking how ridiculous it is that in Bujumbura, a plate of hamburger and chips is very likely to cost more than some of the tastiest brochettes I’ve had in my life. Can you imagine? Fried ground meat placed between 2 slices of bread – okay there’s usually slices of lettuce, onion and tomato in there as well… and some mayonnaise… and chips on the side eventually. But really; a hamburger competing with pieces of well grilled (and seasoned) prime meat?! How is that even possible?! I’ll tell you how. Because, subconsciously, burgers represent America and America represents… well, the “American dream”. Burgers are not local; they are things from ‘out of this World’. Eating them makes us look cool, “open to the World”, modern. Burgers are first-World!

There also something else I’ve failed to understand: People who eat raw fish aka Sushi and who are like “Eeww” when I tell them about the delicacy that is grilled cow tongue; or crocodile meat for that matter! How is it that there are Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Thai… restaurants all over the World but no Burundian, Ugandan, Nigerian, Namibian… restaurants?

It’s not just about the food…

Look at the way we dress. “Success” equals being covered with and smelling like European brands. One of my Rwandan tweeps (for non-Twitter users, it means “Twitter Peeps”) once mentioned how, in Rwanda, Muzungus (white folks) in Kitenge were seen as cool, while Rwandans who did the same looked like they’d just gotten off a bus coming from some village in the countryside. Then there’s this neighbourhood whose streets have European-ish names like Ravonia Street, Magnolia Street and things like that…

What has happened to our minds?!

Look at our entertainment industry. I almost cried the other day when I discovered that there’s a talk show in Uganda called “The Poprah show”. How un-original and wannabe do you have to be to come up with such a name?! The particular episode of that show I watched featured some socialite/business woman/philanthropist/rather bad singer who calls herself “Uganda’s Beyoncé”. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE UGANDA’S BEYONCÉ?! WHY CAN’T YOU BE JUST YOU?! The saddest part is that this woman seems to spend half of her life taking and posting photos of herself next to her vehicles… rather cool vehicles I’ll give her that… but WHO DOES THAT, UNLESS THEY’RE SHOOTING A VERY WELL PAID ADVERT?! Typical wannabe, classless behaviour! Go ahead; call me a hater if you want!

And then there are the super loud people who try to justify their loudness and rudeness with things like “I’m open-minded. I’m not like you Africans. I say things the way they are. What you see is what you get!” And I’m like what?! Somebody needs to tell them that loud people are usually found in ghettos and ghettos don’t really qualify as “First-World”.

Anyway, has anybody else noticed how poorly our generation handles relationships? And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships. I’m talking about friendships, relationships with our families, with ourselves… I think it’s because of the TV we watch, the music we listen to, the education we get, the Internet we read! All products of the First-World we so admire!

How long are we going to let “development” corrupt our values, make us forget about the things that really matter? What matters actually? I want you to mentally take a step back from your life and look around you. Look. Is that really you? Is that really *insert name of your country here*?

Imagine your country before it got exposed to “Third-World” opinions. Were the people unhappy because they didn’t have electricity and running water in their houses? Because they didn’t go to school, or wear clothes? Are our parents less intelligent or more disconnected from reality because they didn’t have access to Internet or have mobile phones during their youth? Who else feels like always being connected actually disconnects you from people? You never have time to miss them. You always know what they’re doing. When you meet, you have nothing new to tell each other and you end up talking about other people. Lame!

I can see you coming with your argument that we need education, jobs, the Internet and all that to improve ourselves and live to our “full potential”; but for real, what do all these things do other than give us more stress and worries?

I’m sick and tired of my country being referred to as “Third-World” or underdeveloped just because things don’t work the same as they do in the “First-World”! How can we actually compare countries that have totally different cultures, values, hopes and beliefs? Aren’t those the things that really matter? In fact, First-World people aren’t happier, are they? So why do we want to become like them!

Africa isn’t Third-World; Africa is a different World! Just like men and women are totally different species… so they say. Anybody who wants to improve the livelihoods of African people needs to understand that!

I read a rather interesting article by President Paul Kagame on the work of the deceased Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. He praised him as a man who understood that Development models had to be adapted to the Ethiopian context to actually work in Ethiopia. He did it, and it worked! And he didn’t try to export these models. He knew they probably wouldn’t work anywhere else. We need to do that with our lives. We need to know what really works for us instead of just copying ignorantly. We need to rethink our values before it’s too late; before we lose what’s really African about Africa…

Cheers!

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One thought on “Why is Africa full of “First-World” wannabe a-lot-of-things… and people?

  1. This is called Westernisation or AMERICANization. The ECT (Electronical Colonialism Theory) explains the how and why it is the way it is nowadays. Also globalisation plays a role in this all, by making it easier & faster to spread these Western values. It is time for African leaders to wake up and stop this, by re-valuing their own culture and values through media instead of importing those Telenova’s, and other series from the North!

    I love the subject of ur article, great job cause it is an reality that many Africans ain’t aware of it!

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