As we have been focusing our attention on the African diaspora this month, two things have become very clear to me. The first is that we cannot rely on corporate media platforms like NBC or Fox News to help us better understand the world and certainly not the continent of Africa. Secondly, there is so much happening all over Africa that we can learn and draw inspiration from.
There is limitless innovation and creativity happening all over the Motherland. Our sisters and brothers of the continent are creating new industries and finding solutions for a wide range of social and economic challenges. As we seek to expand our understanding and knowledge of Africa and the diaspora as a whole, we must do more than just debunk outdated, patriarchal and racist ideas of “the dark continent” (that was the title of an actual chapter in my high school textbook). We must see through a more realistic lens that helps understand the history and new realities within Africa.
The late psychologist, social theorist and Pan-Africanist, Dr. Amos Wilson maintained that the education of Black children should prepare them to solve problems within their own communities and for their own people. Much of the ingenuity and creativity that is emerging from Africa is about that kind of problem-solving.
As we seek to engage and inspire our children there are countless examples of black excellence both here in America and throughout the African diaspora that we can point to. In Cameroon, computer engineer, Arthur Zang has designed the Cardiopad to help improve the way heart examinations are conducted and to allow results to be shared from remote locations such as rural areas.
In Ethiopia, a group of women have created Tibeb Girls, a cartoon series that some are calling “Power Puff Girls” for the new generation. The series is designed to promote education and positive self-image among Ethipoian girls by centering girls as superheroes with powers such as love, patience and justice. The series addresses various issues including menstruation and child marriage.
Barely 30 year-old Nigerian Ph.D, Opeyemi Odutemowo is using her degree in Nuclear Physics to develop safer, cleaner sources of electricity with the goal of improving electrical power in every African home.
These are just a very few examples of how education and black academic excellence is changing the world we live in for the better. We must see our students as necessary contributors to this change and equip them to become the problem-solvers in their own communities.
Peace and love good people.
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