1. No Stranger to War.
Unfortunately for the global community, we cannot be pressured with the possibility of war. Even a veiled threat will not shake, we will not budge from any stance until we see warships and tankers at our borders and even then we might not concede defeated because we are so stubborn. We fight so much amongst ourselves that it is almost a past time. From centuries back, tribal conflicts have been resolved with physical violence and that is a thing that will never change. Fighting is a custom celebrated all over the continent and we show love for this custom in ritualistic song and dance whenever there is a function. We laugh at the threat of sanctions, they mean nothing.
2. We are immune to racial slurs.
Racial slur bounce off us because we have been called way worse by parents in a fit of rage. Nothing prepares you mentally for the cruel world like the verbal taunts and public undressing by an African parent. This makes you develop a thick skin so when you step out of the house, anything that can be said to you to try and put you down seems childish.
3. Poverty means nothing.
Poverty is something that doesn’t scare us. One meal a day in fact is a luxury. Have you not seen the PSA’s on TV with stick-thin kids terrorised by flies? Have you not seen pictures of starved mother’s breastfeeding equally emaciated newborns, giving their little bodies something to keep them alive do they can survive drought and famine? That, my friend, is poverty and to go one single day with nothing to eat is child’s play.
4. We can prosper anywhere.
Remember when Jay Z said, “put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth?” That was the great poet of our time and ruler over the great burrough of Bedford-Stuyvesant and greater New York tapping into his far removed ancestry. We can go anywhere in the world and make a success of ourselves, it is a proven fact. We have African doctors, lawyers and all sorts of professionals that come into territories like the US and UK with nothing and make their way to the top, paying their way as a au pairs, street-sweepers, street hustlers etc. Turning a penny into a million is our specialty.
5. Normcore originators.
Face it, we set trends. We’ve been normcore since way before normcore was ever cool. Before you ever put on your dad’s pleated slacks & trainers and snapped an Instagram pic with the appropriate #normcore hashtag, we were on it. All those clothes that you and your parents donated over the years got bundled up and distributed (mostly sold) at flea markets across the continent.
[sidebar: your grandma’s clothes are making fashionistas cheese from cheek to cheek. Their vintage collections are popping!] This means we have worn those normal clothes that you thought would clothe a starving African as high fashion. We moved away from the aesthetic quality to a functional aspect hence originating normcore.
6. We beat our kids.
While it is frowned upon everywhere, we believe that sparing the rod is a foolish thing to do and a denial of the paramount pleasure of parenting is an injustice. We physically discipline our children and that is how we keep them in line. A slipper can turn into a missile at any given moment and that violence as a child keeps you in check even as they get older when their parents aren’t around. The next time you see a burly African woman severely physically reprimanding her child, don’t call child services, let her finish and take notes. Every African child knows they can’t dishonour their family name by misbehaving in public. Don’t worry about the underwear bomber, that was an isolated case, he probably didn’t get enough beatings as a child.
7. We are hardworking.
We are the first ones to come in and the first ones to leave the office. Ahmadou at the office will hunch over at the desk and crunch numbers without worrying about carpal tunnel or any occupational health hazards. While you complain about the shit pay, he knows when he converts it to his home currency that single pay check will pay for tuition for all 27 of his kids. It may even be enough to move them out to a more luxurious hut with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
8. We don’t consume.
Africans are not familiar with the concept or lifestyle of mass consumerism. We simply don’t buy things unless they are needed. This is the singular reason why corporate west and their capitalism leaning markets don’t like us; we use logic to determine purchases.
9. Unwavering optimism.
We physically represent optimism. Look it up in a dictionary or google it and you will find a picture of a Makhtoub, Sibongile or Tshepiso. 50 bodies hunched in a makeshift raft bobbing and weaving in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden hoping to make it across to Europe. That is optimism. Imagine a woman having 10 kids while stuck in abject poverty and bearing more because one of them might be smart and talented enough to rescue all of them; that is optimism. Pre-pubescent children in self-dug mines facing getting crushed in cave-ins and health problems but going back in day-after-day hoping they’ll strike it rich from getting rare minerals; that is optimism.