I consider myself an Afrocentrist, a person who strives to promote better African consciousness, recognition of African cultural values and of African equality in society. On a personal level, my stance is to put Africa’s legacy in its rightful place in my life in order to maintain my value as an African who lives in a euro-centric society. However, my endeavours don’t just end there, they also extend to my African continent where I share the same ideologies and stances with my people who may have lost belief in their African Identity.
My Afro-centric stance is not one that is always executed consciously, neither is it an absolute statement. It is rather founded on the fact that I have a great appreciation for my African origins. I am very partial to the fashion, the food, the music, the legacy, the diversity of its people, the philosophies, and the conception of life. Not because I forced myself to but rather because I love it and thrive in it. It is simply who I am.
The conscious side of my Afro-centricity does intervene however, when I am reaching out to other Africans in order to raise awareness of who they are, to stimulate confidence to change their social conditions. This conscious side also comes out when I present myself to non- Africans, in view to educate about who I am, where I am from and to breakdown some of the negative preconceived ideas that they may have about Africa and Africans.
Though this is my way of conceptualising my Afro-centricity, it becomes a slight contradiction when it is contrasted against what people think it should really be. Many people expect an Afrocentric to live in self segragation from society, to exist solely for the agenda of his African cause and nothing else. To embrace everything that is solely African, to socialise (marry) with only Africans and even further to promote black supremacy. Unfortunately, I get criticised by some people (black and white) because I do not necessarily agree with or embody these beliefs to their fullest.
While I am deeply rooted and in my ‘African-ness’, I remain an open and individual spirit with a very strong humanist stance which draws me towards people, diversity and difference. An openness that is also criticised and that at one point also made me question the credibility of my Afro-centric stance. It was however upon reflection that I came to realise that people were skeptic because they tended to only focus on the “centric” aspect of the term. A term which in their mind should condemn an acceptance of anything non-African or black .
My concept is that being African is my central point, yet it is held, maintained by the wider society and world in which I live ( the world which makes it exist). Being African radiates into my world and my world radiates into my African being. I see the making of my Afro-centricity as an exchange between me an the wider world; an exchange which gives me the inspiration to be efficient at what I do. This is the belief that makes me open, tolerant and accepting of diversities and differences around me. Does that make me an Afrocentric counterfeit? Does that make me a sell out? Do I talk the talk and not really walk the walk? I cannot judge that myself.
One thing is sure is that I am madly in love with my African origins and have dedicated a big part of my life to impact positively in the development of the continent. No matter how ‘centric’ we are in relation to anything in life, my belief is that being open to difference is the key. And remember: to thrive in who you are, you need to first accept the world in which you exist. If this is a new way of viewing Afro-centricity, then I’m very honoured to be one of the first Neo-Afrocentrist =)