The Africa I see is the one on TV
Blood, conflict, Pirates and terrorism
Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mali.
The Africa I see is the one of TV ads
Where starving children tug at the heartstrings of some white people in a far away land
Who feel like they can save the whole world by giving a few pounds a week.
The Africa I see is the one on the Facebook of those millennials who go to volunteer
Tick the box of the experience helping starving children somewhere in Africa.
The Africa I know is somewhat… different.
The Africa I know is that of tales of my parents growing up in Divo, Côte d’Ivoire, of my grandma with her small enterprise selling food at the market, or of my mom’s dad teaching
The Africa I know is where my grandma, Assata, was born, lived and died
The Africa I know is the one I communicate with when I talk to my parents in Djula, mixed with my Italian
The Africa I know is one of superstition that is incomprehensible to my European friends
The Africa I know is where my surname makes me a Grio, a Geri, a bard, an oral historian
The Africa I know is one made of colourful traditional clothing, headpieces and culture
The Africa I know is one where family and community is important, one where you know your neighbours, where children are community educated
The Africa I know is the one my dad tells me about when proud he talks about the progress of his motherland
The Africa I know is one of contradictions, one where the rich and the poor live at different sides of the spectrum
The Africa I know is the one I witnessed when I visited, a reality where I felt like a foreigner in 2010
The Africa I know is a multilayered reality, one of good and bad, one of hope and frustration
One that I rarely see broadcasted on Western TV, where Africa is painted all with the same brush.
Where Africa is a country and not a continent
Where Africa is seen only as a haven of disease, poverty and misery.
When people ask you about Ebola
When people ask you about poverty
When people find the need to ask you if you speak African
When people ask you ignorant questions that make you want to laugh and cry at the same time
They deny the Africa I know for the Africa they think they know, a facet of a whole continent.