Why Africa must rebrand itself

It has been a little quiet here and for that I apologise.

By way of catching up I have decided to revisit the issue of Africa rebranding itself.

I spent the best part of last week up in Birmingham at the BBC Gardeners World Live, show casing the fine work of the various women that I work with in Africa. It is an interesting but incredibly exhausting exhibition. The show  provides an opportunity to get feed back on the quality of the women’s work and whether or not there is a market for their accessories.On the whole the accessories were loved for being colorful, well finished and practical, and this was a great relief.

handmade African basket from Madagascar

So why must Africa Rebrand itself? Whilst at this event I also learned how little folk out there really know about Africa and what it is they know tended to be negative.

African Cotton Tote

Man and wife approached my stand and immediately told me that they sponsored a child in Africa. The man told his wife that they should buy one of the cotton bags made by the women in Tanzania. She told him that they didn’t need it. He whispered to her “we’ve got to help those people woman”. I was tempted to ask them not to do us any favours but realised Ethnic Supplies is not really about me so I bit my tongue.

Then came a woman whose question nearly blew me off my feet! She too was interested in the same bag and having paid for it she asked me if there were schools in Ghana and if so  do English people provide them?

Now I am very chatty and I must confess to being dumb founded.

Whilst thinking about those comments I noticed that I was very cold and I asked people on nearby stands if they too were feeling cold and they were, the Air conditioning was on very high. I complained to the organisers about this and they sent a rep to my stand, who promptly asked me if I had just arrived to the UK! I did wonder whether he assumed that there is no Air conditioning in Africa?

I did wonder whether this was a new form of discrimination or an unfortunate comment form an idiot. Well  as luck would have it the chap came back and I told him how disappointed I was with his remarl. he apologised and said he had merely been making small talk!

Now folk I would really like to think that I can take a joke like the next person and that I am not an overly sensitive grumpy old woman, but I struggled to see how any of these comments could be taken lightly.

The comment about school in Ghana left me in no doubt that Africa must  do more to report the good news from Africa instead of leaving it to the popular media. Why? Good news from Africa does not sell papers no make television headlines which is where some of these folk get their information about Africa= no incentive for the popular media house to report it!

Having written the first draft of this blog an email has since dropped into my in box from a German guy who had previously approached me about providing work experience for his talented African friend. My last response to him was that I was not in a position to do so for various reasons.

In his latest email he says his friend really needs my help as he is so intelligent that it is as if he was not born in Africa! I don’t know about your folk but I can only read that one way. People in Africa are stupid and those that are not must be helped to leave as soon as possible. Did I let him get away with that comment? Absolutely not!

Have you got a view on any of the issues raised here? Well lets here them

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