What does it mean to be African?

Wale Idris Ajibade – WNN SOAPBOX

Africa map on the globe
Sustainability of human rights through education, opportunity and development within diverse communities of the African region is of prime importance to helping millions of people, say experts. Image: AidMonitor

(WNN) New York, New York, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: What does it means to be African in the real sense? Is it spiritual? Is it a course, a journey, a deep sense of hope of healing, reconciliation, or a birthright based inclination? Is it a responsibility for just Africans, or for all humanity to define what it means to be African?

Africa has become home for many foreign cultures that have developed a secondary African heritage that is due and undeniable in their respective sovereignty.

Many people from other cultures seem to reserve the option ‘to-be or not-to-be’ African. In fact they have this choice as much as persons who have non-native African heritage. Those who were born in Africa often opportunistically opt for ‘other’ heritages when presented with the choice.

But this is not completely true in all cases. South Africans of European heritage are very proud Africans.

Often because they have made a home in South Africa, meaning that many cities in South Africa are gradually looking more like European cities — not only because of the available infrastructural standard, but in terms of forming a new culture. A culture that is South African, but not exactly African.

Similar trends in culture can be seen all over Southern Africa and in all other regions of Africa. This is not just a trend with the European influence but also with the Arabic, Indian, Chinese, and so on. The point is that all these Diaspora cultures in Africa mostly maintain their own original bearings. This is why many North African countries are in the Arab League.

Native Africans are scattered around the world today due to one reason or the other. They have mixed with different cultural heritages, assumed different nationalities and have been exposed to different values around the world.

As the diversity of African people continuously grow larger, many people suffer from chronic identity crisis. And many more are quick to denounce their African heritage. This is one of the reasons why it is important to promote African identity.

The good news today is that the world is realizing that each culture is blessed with a gift for the whole world.  We are all responsible to help each culture recognize its cultural endowment and how to share it fairly with the world.

Each culture holds a key to enlightenment.

Unique cultural identity should be an asset for growth rather than a stigma for crises.

Since Africa is a continent made of so many cultures, it is impossible to have one particular regional culture represent the entire continent.

Africans everywhere share certain virtues in common.

This may remain a challenge though if Africans do not desire a required measure, or awareness, to claim the 8 Freedoms for Self Determination.

8 Freedoms for Self Determination


  1. Freedom of thoughts and consensus
  2. Freedom of speech and expression
  3. Freedom from need
  4. Freedom from fear
  5. Freedom of worship
  6. Freedom to love and be loved in return
  7. Freedom to garner own cultural asset (self representation/ self determination/ self governance/ own lingua franca)
  8. Freedom of movement in the world


 “For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; Freedom is something that people take and people are as free as they want to be,” said James Arthur Baldwin.

Since African’s self-development was interrupted, it would make sense that African values be properly redeveloped to reflect the challenges, strengths, and civilization of its diverse people both in Africa and its diaspora. Only then can we attain equal measure on the global standard.

One must want it more than life itself.


Wale Idris Ajibade (Wale Idris) is the founder and Executive Director of  ‘African Views’, a research, media, and development non-profit organization with a mission to provide, communicate, and implement information for social development in the African region. Working on an African cultural exchange program for school children, through a program that connects children in Africa to school children in America through Skype, Idris has brought children of different cultures together. He is also the director and executive producer of AV radio which brings discussions on local Africa issues to the west through BlogTalkRadio programs that include: African Health Dialogues, Youth Initiatives, Millennium Development Goals, Green Africa, Culture Diplomats, New Deals, and The Future of Women.


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