Please read As Seen on TV ?!?!!?(Part 1) before reading this post:
It would be hypocritical of me to write this post without mentioning that I do hold pre-conceived ideas of how others ought to behave. (In this instance I use others to describe a group of people that I do not belong to e.g. men, white people, Muslims) I would go so far as to say that we all have these pre-conceived ideas or expectations.
What I have come to learn is to treat these views for what they are â€“ mere expectations usually based on assumptions or unreliable sources. When they are based on a reliable source, e.g. first hand encounters, I have learnt that I can not use these encounters to judge an entire group of people.
It is for this reason that I was offended and angered by the post I referred to in Part 1. Not only did I consider it extremely offensive and to some extent arrogant for a non-Kenyan man to express disbelief at the behaviour of Kenyan women when the basis of his disbelief lies in our representation by the media. I was also offended by the suggestion that it was our assertiveness that led this person to conclude we acted in an un-Kenyan way.
The Western world is constantly being shown images of helpless, starving African people. We have all seen those movies where a white man goes into the deep dark African jungle to educate and tame a group of wild uncivilised African. We see the Africans transform from an unruly tribe to a submissive group who bow before the white person they have recently hailed as chief of their village.
Unfortunately I am not one of those people who will excuse a Westerner and his/her warped views of our people on the grounds that the media is to blame. No way. Not in this age of technology and improved access to all sorts of information. I never thought I would quote X-Files but the truth is really out there, people just need to start accepting it.
Some people expect me and my fellow African women to behave like the bare breasted natives they have seen on TV. They expect that our only role in life is to sit outside our mud huts, waiting for our shared spear-wielding husband, loin cloth and all, to return with a dead zebra on his back. To such people I have this to say.
Yes, some of us are living in poverty, starving and unclothed. Yes, some of us do live in mud huts and I am sure there some of us who do eat zebra meat. There are however, some of us who have never seen the inside of a mud hut, who have never held a spear. In short, we are varied and diverse.
The people of Africa, men and women, are not inanimate objects that come with an â€œas seen on TVâ€? sticker glued to our foreheads and we certainly never ever want to be judged as if we are.