Africa is not a country

By Régine Psaila

African shop in Msida, Malta

No, Africa is not a country. It is a continent composed of about 54 countries, more or less, and thoroughly different from one another.

More or less because of the colonial division of its boundaries that have halved villages regardless of family ties. Over years, some of those villages have become foreigners to each others, even though they still speak the same language.

One example is the case of  Cameroon and Gabon. In Ambam, a city in the deep south of Cameroon, the language spoken is Fang. The same language is spoken on the other side of the border, in Bitam, a city located in Gabon. But the Gabonese side has the reputation of being extremely unfriendly with its “cousins” from Cameroon, because of Cameroonians immigrants who cross the border every day for business or in search of a better life. Gabon is considered to be a well off place in the CEMAC area. ( economic zone formed of 6 countries)

The various groups formed by Africans in diaspora to identity themselves inside communities reflect the reality of the cultural differences in the continent.

Restaurant owned by a Ghanaian couple in Hamrun, Malta

In Malta the Sudanese community is a registered NGO which has the prospect to build a home-friendly space for all. Beside that, you also have a Nigerian Community, an Eritrean community, a Ghanian community… with the same praiseworthy goals, which are to meet up from time to time to talk and share thoughts, discuss problematic issues, revive memories, comment about politics etc…

These community gatherings, called ndjangi here or mkutano there, happen in their own particular way, in their own particular language, with their own particular food, with their own particular music and dance.

Is there anything common to all Africans that can make their continent a country? Maybe if you consider that the couscous, or foufou or vouvou, all the same food actually, is eaten by almost the entire African population. But that common culinary inheritance is not enough to redesign the geography or social history, any more than the English eating spag bol has turned them into bona fide Italians.

R. Psaila

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