Shem, a Kenyan guy, lived in Germany for a while. Germany gets a bad rap for being a racist country, but it really isn’t. At least, not for him it wasn’t. Not to say that people don’t experience racism there, but he didn’t. There aren’t many black people in Germany though, which may be part of why it gets its bad rap.


Shem was in Germany for the better part of a year. While there he had a conversation with a German friend of his who told him something interesting. His friend said that white people can’t be cool in the same way that black people can. He gave him an example: if a group of black guys, say four or five of them, are walking down the street, they look cool. They have a presence and swag about them. But four or five white guys walking down the street? Not so much.



Interesting observation, isn’t it? Would you have thought that white people see black people this way? Some of us might have, but a lot of us probably wouldn’t because we’re not white and see black people through a biased lens. Some of this bias is racial, that white people think of black people as inferior. Some of it is unfortunate conditioning, in that black people sometimes think that they aren’t as good as white people.


Some of it is misinformation. White people probably see black people in one way (largely negative) because that’s a lot of what the media shows and there’s hardly anything to distort that. But that white people think black people are cool? That they find them cool? That’s a surprise. In hindsight though, it shouldn’t be.

There's supposed to be a cool image here

The signs have been there. There has been a wave of “Africanness” around the world in the past few years. Black and specifically African artists and creators in different fields have blown up internationally.


Burna Boy became the African Giant. Wizkid sold out the O2 Arena in London in 12 minutes (during a pandemic). Sho Madjozi tag-teamed with John Cena. Chimamanda made feminism viral and made it to a Beyoncé track.


Even black culture experienced some celebrity status. There have been numerous cases over the past few years of cultural appropriation of black or African culture. White celebrities especially were called out for it (sometimes unfairly). The Kardashians, Rita Ora, and even Adele found themselves guilty of cultural appropriation.


Even K-pop found itself in the mix. NCT 127, a popular K-pop group, was called out a few years ago for styling its members in typically black hairstyles and clothing. The western (and eastern) world has been feeling Africa. That says something, and there’s something very important to take from this.


Africa has begun to contribute in a big way to the culture in today’s world. In a few years, Africans may be the people, the community if you will, driving it (if they aren’t low-key doing it already). Africa has long been the continent that God seemingly let go to the dogs. It was neglected. Its people were poor, its cities small. Personal safety was a major concern, as was a person’s next meal.


Things aren’t too much better now, but there have been major improvements. In Kenya for example, security is better than it was when Gen Z were still in diapers (which isn’t that long ago). So is the infrastructure. Nairobi now feels like New York on a smaller scale instead of a town pretending to be a city. There’s still a lot to do, but as it’s said in Kenya, we’ve come from far and there’s further to get to.


The same is true for the rest of the continent. The world has benefitted from improvements and advancements in technology, and Africa hasn’t been left behind. One of the benefits of being behind everyone else is that when you do start to embrace technology you can start with current tech and don’t have to overhaul legacy tech, because it doesn’t exist anyway.


Technology brought with it social media, which Africans have embraced and which their culture and art have benefitted from in a big way.

(Photo by Brian Asare on Unsplash)

Africans have been able to share with each other (and the world) what they’re about. The world has had the privilege of seeing it and being jealous of Africa’s coolness, and they’ve decided they want to be cool too. So they’ve copied Africans. They’ve worked with them (not for them just yet). They’ve helped make us worldwide sensations and celebrated us.


This is awesome and all, but it’s about time that Africans take advantage of this. There is talk of where Africa will be in the future and how bright that’s looking, but it shouldn’t be just that. Africa should be where it’s at.


To amplify the impact African culture is having on the world and on Africans themselves, Africans need to make a big deal out of it. Africans are often guilty of being westernised and of copying western cultures at the expense of their own. We need to embrace ourselves and our culture, and express it energetically.


That’s not to say that we should close our eyes to other cultures or vilify them, but they shouldn’t dictate who we are. They should complement our culture, not erode it.


We often idolise the people who create and star in the media we consume, the people who entertain us. Black American artists and entertainers especially form the African idea of what’s cool. They have a shitload of money. They live opulent, glamorous, luxurious lives. They’re often physically attractive and hang out with other attractive people. In addition, they look like Africans, which makes them relatable. What’s not cool about all that?


We clearly think that the Migos and LeBron James and Megan Thee Stallion are cool. Why can’t Africans be cool as well? Why do we sometimes try to hide who we are to fit in with what the western world might think we should be? Why do we tame our hair? Why do we bleach our skin? Why do we turn our backs on our culture? Why do we turn our backs on who we are?


Africans should think of themselves the way the rest of the world has come to think of us and to show the world our quality. We have so much to offer, and the world has taken notice. They want to be like us, and we should take the compliment and run with it.



Africa is where it’s at. It’s where it’s at because it’s where we’re at. So tell the rest of the world to pull up, because we’ve got a show for them that they won’t believe.