You Must Be Born in Africa
A polemic prose poem by Edoheart
If you are not born in Africa, you cannot be African. Your mother must be poorly educated, must have walked miles barefoot selling pepper, must dream of America, where nobody gives a fuck about real Africans and cares only for African decorations, be they musics, fabrics or fashion models. If you are African, you must be born to an African mother in Africa who can only afford to eat peanuts and drink bottles of warm Coca-Cola. She is descended from an ancient royal family but Europe and America have desecrated and confused this into meaninglessness and abject poverty so that your 80-year old grandmother walks everywhere even in monsoons. Your growth in this womb to term, on a diet of peanuts and Coca-Cola, on a exercise regimen of 14-hour, 110 degrees Fahrenheit market days is the first improbable miracle that forms the destiny of your African-ness. You must be born in Africa to be African. You must be descended from the continent where Europe and America come to steal shit, fuck shit up and give nothing back. You must be born here. Pesticides, insecticides and vaccines not fit for use anywhere else on Earth must be sprayed on or around or injected into your mother, so that the extreme multiple intelligences with which you are nevertheless born is a testament to the superiority of your African gene pool. But you will most probably be of small stature. You might be born premature; regardless, you must be born in Africa to be African. The hospital in which you are born must be dark and desperate because there is never any electricity or running water, understaffed due to brain drain, without the most basic of medical supplies, so that your very survival of this second passage through the birth canal deserves a Nobel prize for perseverance. After this, to be African, your first breaths must be of air choked with kerosene or gasoline exhaust. Because there is never any electricity or running water, your first lullabies, if you are lucky, must be of generators spewing kerosene at 120 decibels into the bedroom you share with several relatives because Christianity or Islam colonized you and now your mother practices no birth control and thus you sleep with several brothers and/or sisters on mats on the cold ground. When you see computers or clothes, they are always castoff American items; they are missing lots of buttons but somehow you manage to convince a gullible American to send you money through the Internet. This is due to your superior intellect and desperation. The members of your government, installed and propped up by Europe or America, are stealing all the money your country makes and spending it in Europe or America. Europe or America will send you billions in aid at the next famine but this is of course a tiny percentage of the trillions that the members of your government have lost to Europe and America in diamonds, oil, precious metals, rare earths and slaves since they made each other’s acquaintance. In fact, the famine is partially due to Europe and America’s refusal to grant you equal trade powers but they will blame you for your poor accounting methods. You must develop asthma. You must almost die of malaria; viruses must attack your blood so often the viruses become afraid of your blood for failure’s sake. Note that if you are lucky enough to leave Africa for America, Americans will also be afraid of your blood. You will not be able to donate blood nor will anyone who has ever fucked you be able to donate blood; your blood becomes unfit for human consumption by virtue of having been born-in-Africa. This is the most important reason you must be born in Africa to be African. Why, if they let you give your blood, you might start selling it, you might have a little money left over after sending money back home to Africa; with the money you saved from selling your blood, you might have time to organize your thoughts; you might have time to consider the unconscionable and lasting disadvantages of having been born in Africa where your educational textbooks were castoff, obsolete, nonlinear, falling-apart, with misspelled words. You might employ your superior intellect in changing the world. This cannot be. Why, what would the world be without poor African souls born in Africa, their blood bearing Africa? Hungry, I imagine.