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Africa

  • Without evading the grimness of life in much of modern Africa, one can recognize that this continent is not yet sick as our continent is sick. Most Africans remain plugged into reality. In contrast we have become disconnected from it, reduced to compulsively consuming units, taught to worship 'economic growth' — the ultimate unreality in a finite world.

  • ... apartheid still hangs in the air like a poisonous cloud left over from chemical warfare.

  • I feel the revolutionalizing of our continent hinges on the woman questions.

  • There are powerful forces undermining progress in Africa. But one must never underestimate the power of the people to bring about change.

  • African tradition deals with life as an experience to be lived. In many respects, it is much like the Eastern philosophies in that we see ourselves as a part of a life force; we are joined, for instance, to the air, to the earth. We are part of the whole-life process. We live in accordance with, in a kind of correspondence with the rest of the world as a whole. And therefore living becomes an experience, rather than a problem, no matter how bad or how painful it may be.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • One always, sooner or later, comes upon a city which is an image of one's inner cities. Fez is an image of my inner self. ... The layers of the city of Fez are like the layers and secrecies of the inner life. One needs a guide. ... There were in Fez, as in my life, streets which led nowhere, impasses which remained a mystery.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1936, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • The breezes of the West African night were intimate and shy, licking the hair, sweeping through cotton dresses with unseemly intimacy, then disappearing into the utter blackness.

  • We were Black Americans in West Africa, where for the first time in our lives the color of our skin was accepted as correct and normal.

  • Darfur. I know to you this must be a word soaked in suffering and blood. A name that conjures up terrible images of a dark horror and an evil without end. Pain and cruelty on a magnitude inconceivable in most of the civilized world. But to me Darfur means something quite different: It was and is that irreplaceable, unfathomable joy that is home.

    • Halima Bashir,
    • in Halima Bashir with Damien Lewis, Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur ()
  • It is not at all about a backwards return, a resurrection of an African past that we have learned to know and respect. On the contrary, it is about the mobilization of every living strength brought together upon this earth where race is the result of the most unremitting intermixing; it is about becoming conscious of the incredible story of varied energies until now locked up within us.

    • Suzanne Césaire,
    • in Daniel Maximin, ed., The Great Camouflage: Writings of Dissent (1941-1945) ()
  • Poor Africa. No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill.

  • ... I am living in the Africa I have always longed for, always felt stirring in my blood.

  • Morocco: Looks better in films.

  • Egypt is full of dreams, mysteries, memories.

  • A typical Liberian graveside ceremony is almost always accompanied by a woman, usually not even a member of the immediate family, who throws herself on top of the coffin in the grave, begging to be buried, too, so great is her grief. 'You'all leamme here, oh!' she yells, as weary pallbearers climb in to extract her. 'My people, jes leave me!'

  • A Liberian funeral is something like an Indian wedding, an Irish wake, and a British coronation rolled into one. Entire churchloads of people holler, bawl, and sing for hours on end, wailing at the passing of the dearly departed. Long-winded sermons are punctuated by piercing screams from designated mourners scattered throughout the church.

  • The philosophy of love and peace strangely overlooked who was in possession of the guns. There had been love and peace for some time on the continent of Africa because for all this time black men had been captivated by the doctrines of Christianity. It took them centuries to realize its contradictions. ... perhaps there was no greater crime as yet than all the lies Western civilization had told in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • There aren't enough doctors in Africa. Those who choose to become doctors here don't do it for the money or because they want to do good. They do it because they have to heal, the way most people need to breathe or eat or love.

  • ... when a white man in Africa by accident looks into the eyes of a native and sees the human being (which it is his chief preoccupation to avoid), his sense of guilt, which he denies, fumes up in resentment and he brings down the whip.

  • The white man has settled like a locust over Africa, and, like the locusts in early morning, cannot take flight for the heaviness of the dew on their wings. But the dew that weights the white man is the money that he makes from our labor.

  • Writers brought up in Africa have many advantages — being at the center of a modern battlefield; part of a society in rapid, dramatic change. But in a long run it can also be a handicap: to wake up every morning with one's eyes on a fresh evidence of inhumanity; to be reminded twenty times a day of injustice, and always the same brand of it, can be limiting.

  • But the soul of Africa, its integrity, the slow inexorable pulse of its life, is its own and of such singular rhythm that no outsider, unless steeped from childhood in its endless, even beat, can ever hope to experience it, except only as a bystander might experience a Masai war dance knowing nothing of its music nor the meaning of its steps.

  • Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just 'home.' It is all these things but one thing — it is never dull.

  • Africa is less a wilderness than a repository of primary and fundamental values, and less a barbaric land than an unfamiliar voice.

  • ... there are many Africas.

  • In the family of continents, Africa is the silent, the brooding sister, courted for centuries by knight-errant empires — rejecting them one by one and severally, because she is too sage and a little bored with the importunity of it all.

  • Africa is never the same to anyone who leaves it and returns again. It is not a land of change, but it is a land of moods and its moods are numberless. It is not fickle, but because it has mothered not only men, but races, and cradles not only cities, but civilizations — and seen them die, and seen new ones born again — Africa can be dispassionate, indifferent, warm, or cynical, replete with the weariness of too much wisdom.

  • In Africa people learn to serve each other. They live on credit balances of little favours that they give and may, one day, ask to have returned.

  • African music, though very old, is always being rediscovered in the West.

  • All that you have given me Africa / Makes me walk / With a step that is like no other ...

    • Anoma Kanié,
    • "All That You Have Given Me Africa," in Kathleen Weaver, trans., Carol Cosman et al., eds., Penguin Book of Women Poets ()
  • ... it is a cruel country that will take the heart out of your breast and grind it into powder, powdered stone. And no one will mind, that is the worst of it. No one will mind.

  • ... Africa ... reveals her delights only to those who have the eager eyes and ears and heart of the explorer; to all others the book is closed.

  • ... the grim, grand African forests are like a great library, in which, so far, I can do little more than look at the pictures, although I am now busily learning the alphabet of their language, so that I may some day read what these pictures mean.

  • If you see a thing that looks like a cross between a flying lobster and the figure of Abraxas on a Gnostic gem, do not pay it the least attention, never mind where it is; just keep quiet and hope it will go away — for that's your best chance; you have none in a stand-up fight with a good thorough-going African insect.

  • One immense old lady has a family of lively young crocodiles running over her, evidently playing like a lot of kittens. The heavy musky smell they give off is most repulsive, but we do not rise up and make a row about this, because we feel hopelessly in the wrong in intruding into these family scenes uninvited ...

  • You could have just said Ngozi is your tribal name and Ifemelu is your jungle name and throw in one more as your spiritual name. They'll believe all kinds of shit about Africa.

  • [On a tour of black-governed African countries:] Being from the South, we never was taught much about our African heritage. The way everybody talked to us, everybody in Africa was savages and real stupid people. But I've seen more savage white folks here in America than I seen in Africa. I saw black men flying the airplanes, driving the buses, sitting behind the big desks in the bank, and just doing everything that I was used to seeing white people do.

  • He had the patient, practical, uninterested tone of the white person willing to help a native with money or authority, so long as he is not expected to listen to any human details of the predicament.

  • ... you could hear the heavy soft sounds of hippo coming out of the river to forage at night, like someone in the next bed rolling over, like a rustle of sheets.

    • Maria Thomas,
    • "Jim Chance," Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage ()
  • War is Africa's perpetual ripe fruit. There is so much injustice to resolve, such desire for revenge in the blood of the people, such crippling corruption of power, such unseemly scramble for the natural resources. The wind of power shifts and there go the fruit again, tumbling toward the ground, each war more inventively terrible than the last.