Journal of a Foreign Descendant

The thesis in the book suggests the idea that all people of African descent in distributed in the Americas as well the rest of the world should -in the face of the inaccurate misrepresentation and portrayal of the continent, and the cynical disengagement being practiced in the west -try to go to Africa and get the rich experiences that the continent has to offer. The book is mainly directed to two audiences: The academicians and the general public.

The book deals with two main extremist views of Africa. The Eurocentric view of Africa portrays it as being mostly Jungle, uncivilized and inhabited by sub humans. The other extremist view is that of those that think that Africa is the answer to all the problems afflicting the people of African descent. Television programs generally go to the very rural areas -indeed there are some very rural areas -in the different parts of the continent, they videotape these peoples way of life, and then show only that on television. The ordinary TV watcher is only exposed to what is televised hence the development of the Eurocentric view of Africa.

The author supports him theme in a variety of ways. He believes that people of African Descent have a lot to learn from the continent of Africa. One such lesson is the virtue of honesty. The author supports this by giving us an example of Geoffrey Black. While Mr. Black got into an argument with the taxi driver and declined to give him some extra money, The taxi driver returned his expensive camera, which he had forgotten in the cab.

The author also Emphasized on the distinctive African work ethics, conservation and communal sense of responsibility. The Africans believe that resources -like water – are not to be wasted. Furthermore, everyone has a role to play in the society as a whole. Consequently, each person performs his or her duties without having to be pushed around. If there is work to b done, someone does it. Fathers also take their responsibilities as parents seriously. Miss Vida Dzobo, a lady who sold out her personal belongings to start up a school demonstrated citizen responsibility in contributing towards the development of the rather than waiting for the government to do so. In addition, the author did not fail to recognize the kindness and hospitality of the African people both by Rev Ghalas’ family and also through the Egyptian lady in Asmara who spread a blanket for them and gave them food.

One very enriching experienced and lesson acquired is in the book is “the secret of life” as put by the author. The author in his life as a Christian and historian was impressed, overwhelmed and touched all at the same time by his experience in Ghana at the Leprosium and Podue. The author due to the lack of handicapped accessible buildings witnessed a physically challenged man struggle up the stairs to attend the church. Moreover, The church was filled with lepers who were joyfully praising God despite their suffering. This particular incident showed that life is mush more than material things.

On the flip side of the authors theme of corporation between Africans and Africans in Diaspora, the Africans have a lot to gain from the People of African descent. As Dan Hoffman said, Africa had contributed greatly to the development of the Americas and have much more to contribute now both in natural resources and others ways. The author went ahead to give us examples how and where Africans could use some help. He noted that it is in Africa that the greatest human drama had occurred in the late twentieth century. People were dying due to the widespread civil wars among the Africans. As The author put it “Just as Eastern Europe is demanding democratic reforms, the same dynamic is being played out upon the African continent”

The people of Africa are also perishing because from hunger yet the land is richly endowed with natural resources. As the author went through Egypt, he realized that though they were called deserts, “Arizona, California, and Nevada have nothing equal to the piles of pure white sand that seems to have had all the signs of vitality bleached out by the rays o the sun”. The African farmers need help in such areas as farming tools and equipment as well as the technology and know how that is so richly prevalent in the west in order to adequately feed the people.

In addition, the continent of Africa has its hare of political problems. In Nigeria for example, as witnessed by the author, was not politically stable because of the military rulers had strained the public with their policies. The Bureaucracy in Ghana had engulfed the system made a simple process a whole stressful situation all in the name of creating jobs for people. Generally many African nations have not had good leaders. The past leaders have only dwelled on enriching themselves and exploited the citizens while in their positions rather than improving the county’s systems. Examples include Mobutu Sese Seco of former Zaire now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the well-known tyrant Idi Amin Dada of Uganda.

With the exception of a few countries such as South Africa and Egypt, the infrastructure in most African countries is not developed. The Africans could use help in his area. Educated and skilled people of African descent should come together and assist in the improvement of the roads, the sewage systems, and provision of clean water. Unfortunately, as the author traveled to and from Ho and Ogun, he experienced first hand what badly maintained roads could lead to.

There is a potential for the African people as well as African American people to gain if they cooperate. The author does well in his recommendation that more African Americans travel to the continent Africa. I concur with the author in his idea that all people of African descent should be concerned about Africa just like Jewish Americans are concerned about the middle east and just as the polish Americans are concerned about Poland.

As the Africans benefit from the new technology from the Africans in the west, the people of African descent will also gain valuable virtues that were extorted from them during the institution of slavery. They should therefore at least give traveling to Africa a try than just fully agreeing with the distorted view of Africa in the west. Consequently, rather than try to alienate themselves from anything to do with Africa as they have for a long time been conditioned, they will instead be able to appreciate their land of origin. This will bring out the best in them that has been hidden for an incredibly long time.

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