A 22 year old ‘African’ student has emerged the best graduating student of John Hopkins University in the US. Emmanuel Ohuabunwa obtained a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of a possible 4.0 to earn a degree in Neurosciences. Emmanuel is the first black male to make this Grade in the…
“Information about the Black reality and experience must be transmitted as broadly and as intensely as possible. Black singers must sing about it, Black researchers must identify it, Black actors must act it, Black scholars must conceptualize it, Black teachers must teach it, and Black preachers must preach it. From the cradle to the grave, we must submerge ourselves; from books, pictures and whatever source that will bring messages to our minds. Each bit of information helps to mold the keys which will open the chains that remain on our minds. -Naim Akbar”—
As a black American, I know nothing about where my family comes from. I have little knowledge of any sort of lineage, other than the fact that my ancestors were most likely slaves to somebody’s great great grandfather.
Yes, black people do have a very significant history in America. Yes, a lot of us can stake a claim on our modern American culture. Hell, some of us can even trace our roots back to some richly traditional Afro-Caribbean places.
I can’t. All I know is that one side of my family is from Louisiana and the other is from Georgia. We can speculate beyond that, but we can’t really claim any legitimate culture other than what has been established for us in relatively recent years. We can’t take part in any cultural celebrations that honor the “motherland” or whatever. We can’t reminisce about a time when our family wasn’t owned by others.
Now, this is in no way meaning to decrease the value of black American culture.
But, hasn’t there been some point in your life, fellow black Americans, that you wish that you could claim your ancestors came from some noble kingdom or tribe? A place you could call your family’s cradle?
This hasn’t really bothered me until recently, when I realized I’m the only person in my group of friends without any inkling of where my ancestors came from. Sure, I could be like, “Oh, I came from Africa, obviously!” but what the hell does that even mean? There are so many different peoples and cultures in Africa that claiming that I come from that continent could make me ANYONE.
And you know what? I can never be a part of any sort of traditional African culture. Me and my family and other like us are too far gone already. All we have is America, a country that barely accepts us even nowadays. If we tried to indulge in any other culture other than the one we’ve been forced to adopt, we would probably be ridiculed for it, and rightly so considering we know NOTHING about ANYTHING.
I know I may be reading too much into this, but I feel empty. I feel like I could see someone with my same lineage, from my same ancestral crib, and we wouldn’t recognize each other. We wouldn’t be able to connect on a familial level.
Running a technology news site based in South Africa that focuses on tech news from Africa and Emerging Markets it’s to be expected that I am a little attached to the region.
According to a Mckinsey report ICT spend in Sub-Saharan Africa is approximately $70 billion and will nearly double by 2015. There is also no doubt Africa is on fire right now when it comes to being at the forefront of innovation in mobile (which is where the future of the web lies) with hubs in Kenya and Nigeria.
So naturally when the “all star entrepreneur” panel took the LeWeb stage, I asked: “So are any of you investing in Africa?” The panel: “No”. No? why not? TechCrunch founder and former editor Michael Arrington says it’s because he hasn’t been pitched anything from Africa.
LeWeb is an event that champions the next stage in our online evolution and yet there seems to be very little African presence or discussion around the future of the web there.
More and more are accessing content on their mobile devices, because let’s face it, this is where the world is heading. As Africans we arrived late to the internet party and most of the cool innovative party favors were gone.
But we are hungry for access and content. Hence the huge potential in Africa for mobile app creators and companies that rely in the mobile space. Few of the companies presenting at LeWeb seems to have a focus in Africa, they seem intent on conquering the European market.
Yes some want to conquer China and the rest of Asia too. But why are they ignoring Africa? What did we do?
A few questions immediately come to mind. Is it a case of access? Internet penetration?
Is that still a major issue? According to the head of GSMA, there are 695 million mobile subscriptions in Africa and it is predicted to hit 735 million by the end of 2012.
The most common mobile device is some parts of Africa is the Samsung E250 and it can access the web. Mobile penetration in Africa is about 70% or so. Access? Done.
Most of the speakers are from the USA. All are innovating in various ways true but there are equally innovative and quite frankly more useful products coming out of Africa.
No, it says there is huge potential for growth. That figure says that there is an 86.5% growth potential if we want to add numbers to it. Low internet doesn’t mean a deadzone.
Africa is moving on quite swiftly then. There are companies such as Google, that recognize this growth potential in Africa and they are beginning to invest in the continent. Google has launched the Umbono project in South Africa and Tahrir2 in Egypt.
I suppose the argument could be that LeWeb isn’t focused on Africa because it is designed for Europe and how technology is shaping the continent. Maybe, but most of the speakers are from the USA.
The non-profit software company that develops open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. Surely it has more to say about the innovative use of technology than Path.
Then there is innovation in social and communication companies such as Mxit, which is a mobile communication platform across all types of devices, and if you listen to its new CEO Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, it is well on its way to “conquering the African market”.
This particular conference is backed by government. That signals something important: European government cares about innovation in tech and perhaps innovating with it. Take note here African governments.
When I bumped into Michael Arrington before his session he seemed to think there isn’t much Africa can do for his fund. He also seems to think there is a security issue in Africa. Can this really still be the notion that Africa has nothing to offer when it comes to the web and how we are evolving?
Take a trip to Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi and see how wrong you are.