A Diasporan letter to the white man-Dear Mzungu
Born across an airstrip that later turned out to be a trailer parking along the Kenyan-Ugandan border, I had never seen me writing a letter to you. I enjoyed watching the airplane land and take off. That I would get inside one, was too big a dream for me. The plane was for the white man, my grandfather told me. I then wished I went back to my infancy, because mama said that I was a mzungu when I came to birth, but my skin allegedly changed color as I grew older.
As a child, seeing you face to face at the Kenyan coast and saying “Jambo” to you was such an achievement. The admiration and the happiness that came with it, no words can describe. My dream was to become a mzungu when I grew up, if that could come true. I noted that even parents were excited seeing you pass by and would tell their kids “See the mzungu over there!”, you don’t want to know what that meant. The old men adored you, and I thought you were the best of God’s creation. The most interesting part of it is that the Jesus I knew all along was a white man too, Oh how I wanted to be like you.
Years passed by and I started dreaming. I saw me in your world. I saw me in the clouds. I saw more than I can say. The vision was beautiful. I refused to wake up from my sleep. I kept on dreaming. I imagined. I believed, and it came faster than I expected. Dreams come true, I noted. Nothing is impossible, that too proved to be true. I landed in your territory.
You looked surprised on seeing me. You made me think something was wrong somewhere. Your friends seemed amused, they giggled covering their mouths. For the first time you made me doubt myself. I took it easy, though it was not. I met your siblings and they called me a monkey. They wanted to know what happened to my tail. It felt so bad. Your cousins went as far as pointing a banana at me, I refused to take it. As I met your uncles, they called me black chocolate. I took no offense because I assumed they knew my love for chocolate, it took me time to overcome chocolate addiction. One of your workmates rubbed against my skin so hard, just to see if some black dirt would show on his palm. I reserve how that felt like. Honestly, your grandmother put a smile on my face. She exclaimed “what a beautiful creation!” Because of the self doubt you induced in me, I turned, only for her to confirm it was me. My heart melted with joy, I still believe her.
What hurts me is that your children know not a good thing about me and my continent. They are taken by surprise that I actually put on clothes. They think it is hunger and poverty that sent me to your land. Talking of hunger, yes I have a hunger. A hunger to see the best of me, my country, my continent, my small world. That given what you have, I can be able to do what you can do. It is possible. A hunger that you and your generation will know that we are the same, as human beings. That because you are more developed and civilized does not mean my fathers are lesser beings.
Your learned brother said it is impossible for my sister, a black skinned student to beat your sons and daughters in academic matters. That it is your own kind who must be at the top, as we sway the tail. Well, the creator knows what He did. That a black man is a stupid, dumb, foolish man, will never exist in my vocabulary, it will never register in my head. I refuse that definition without a second thought. No matter how your sisters try to prove it right.
My cousins, sadly, are accepting your definition of them. They are now bleaching their skins, to look acceptable to you. My brothers forget their accent in two weeks of staying with you, so they will sound cool and common to you. My relatives don’t mind washing your toilets and sweeping your streets, so as long as they live with you. A big thanks to them, they do a great job, though your sisters use that to look down on them. My neighbors don’t mind planting crops and selling them to you, only to import it later at a higher price. Their sons, will mine gold and starve, then your friends will sell it, use some profit to send them aid. Shaking my head with sorrow, my poor family.
Maybe things would be better if my siblings knew that it is not the color of your skin, but what is in between your ears. Maybe things would be better, if you accepted us as a people, just like you. I guess, things would be better, if your ancestors used what they knew to bring out the best of my ancestors, than enslave them. It is not a belief, but I know things can be better if you tell your children the good side of my story too. That my continent is rich and my countrymen are smart. That we are full of resources, and can do great exploits given an idea. That a black man, just like the white, can be anything he dreams of, given an opportunity.
You are highly esteemed, white man. I will be the happiest being, if my children and your grandchildren will see themselves as equal. When none will be made to feel superior over the other. When they rub minds together, help each other up the ladder of greatness, and history. I see that day.
Before I run out of ink, allow me to say that I admire your development. It is a challenge to me, because I believe that what you can do, I can do, and what you have done is already a possibility. Thank you for being such a motivation.
Because of you, there will be a better society, nation, continent. What more is there to ask for? Peace, unity.
With love, we are one :)
-By Liz Ekakoro:Diaspora Messenger contributor,