Anyway, I'm not going to be publishing essays here on my findings or views. I want to learn as much as I can about a topic that interests me; not lecture others on the facts and fiction.
What I will share with you are some of the more bizarre and/or entertaining things I have come across in my google searches today.
Things like this fabulously caustic piece in Granta Magazine, How To Write About Africa, in which Binyavanga Wainaina summarises the shallow impressions of Africa that Western writers pass off as insights. Here are some gems, for those of you who don't feel like reading the whole article:
*Always use the word ‘Africa or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’.
*Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.
*Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book.....An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these.
*In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country.
*Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat.
*Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love — take advantage of this......Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.
*African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life — but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.
*Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters. They speak (or grunt while tossing their manes proudly) and have names, ambitions and desires.
*Readers will be put off if you don’t mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must. It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical — Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces.
*Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.
Actually, just read the whole thing, it's excellent!
Of course, no research would be complete withouth the plethora of silly quotes sites. I came across a few which had sayings relating to Africa, and got totally side-tracked by the wide-spread foot in mouth disease that often characterises our species. I've included some of my favourites here - nothing to do with Africa, but good for a Tuesday afternoon laugh anyway:
"I didn't know Onward Christian Soldiers was a Christian song."
"Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious."
"I think that the film Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."
"Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, "Thank God, I'm still alive." But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again."- Barbara Boxer, Senator
"Politics gives guys so much power that they tend to behave badly around women. And I hope I never get into that." - Bill Clinton, former U.S. president
"You know the one thing that's wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say." - Bill Clinton, former U.S. President
"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
"My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."
"I have opinions of my own --strong opinions-- but I don't always agree with them."
"And now, will y'all stand and be recognized."
"I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." - Greg Norman, Golfer
"Whenever I watch TV and I see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I would love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."
"Hey cabbie, could you turn that thing down a hundred disciples?"
"Reports are sketchy, but we have heard that in the first heart transplant operation in Belgium, both patient and donor are doing fine." - Radio news announcer
Need more? Here's the site: http://www.armenianteens.com/stupid_quotes.php
I hope you laughed as much as I did!