Creating an Extended Family
11 9 2020
Creating an Extended Family

How an Instagram account changes perspectives on Africa

Much has been said and written about the African continent in recent years, but one thing is certain: there are infinite preconceptions surrounding it. Former French prime minister Nicholas Sarkozy, in his infamous speech in Dakar in 2007, claimed that Africans traditionally “only know the eternal renewal of time”, so, there is supposedly “no place for human adventure or for the idea of progress” in the African mindset.

The desire to deconstruct and destroy such stereotypes and shed light on the real current African social and political situation, both from an international and a pan-African point of view, was behind Anna Osei and Alan Frederic Omam’s decision to create the Instagram account @_Ujamaa_, which means “extended family” in Swahili.

As the two authors point out, such inferences regarding Africa and Africans reinforce a vague sense of isolation that is often based on the colonial period. They talk about “restricted worlds”, parallel realities that characterise those who were born in Francophone Africa (Omam was born in Senegal) against who was born in Anglophone Africa (as in Ghana, where Osei was born); those who live in the “Franco-/Anglophone bubble” go on with their lives without knowing what happens in the other bubble. Neo-colonialism, that is, the unequal exchange of commercial and political agreements, does nothing but sustain this divide.

However, as the authors state, Black History also includes many examples of lesser-known historical personalities who challenged traditional stereotypes and world views, such as Queen Amina of Zazzau, who was born in what is now Nigeria in 1533 and became known as a great ruler, Nana Yaa Asantewaa of the Ashanti people in modern Ghana, who led the War of the Golden Stool against the United Kingdom in 1900 and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, leader of the Haitian revolution, who served as inspiration to many other revolutionaries in the Caribbean.

The @_Ujamaa_ account explores African phenomena, facts and figures through history, and helps younger Africans find their own way. This is summed up in their slogan “Il futuro migliore non si spera, si provoca”, hoping that the world will change is not enough; in order for the future to look better, you need to change it.

Here is a link to a complete recording of the event (in Italian):