The last time you felt African was when he mentioned it to you. When your thick dark hair was tied with an Ankara material into a bow at the front, the same material that clung to your little feet and traced the ends of your tote bag, on the body of the bag, scribbled in slanted fonts, was ‘black is not perfect but is intricately beautiful.’
Your slender, sleek figure fit into a knee-length flared gown, with pockets at its sides that hid your long, pale hands; long, slender fingers—just like you; and naked fingernails.
You walked like you’ve seen adults walk and have gotten accustomed to, long before your body turned into what it is; its curves and edges. You plastered your signature smile on your face and said, in your creamy voice “hello, good morning” to everyone on the street, the cleaner, housemaid, mallam, senator, baker and the bookshop keeper—because that’s the proper African way; because you can’t be anything less. Africans are respectful, even to strangers and young ones.
His face lit up when he saw you approaching and you blushed when you caught him staring, your eyes met for a bit and you looked away almost immediately, because that’s what is African. You couldn’t be shameless. Africans are known to be bashful and modest. But even then, you felt his eyes all over you, you felt the smile in them, and in a voice so low you almost couldn’t believe is yours, you greeted him, your breath skipped as you speak, warmth caressing it so you blush again.
And like the proper African way, you discovered him trying to discreetly find out about your family and morals from neighbors and friends. Africans don’t just catch a hand on the streets and decorate it with a diamond ring, Africans don’t just jump, Africans find out the root and shoot before they propose marriage. You confided in your best friend weeks later, maybe it’d save you from the sleepless nights that became normal the past few days, you narrated the little you can remember from your brief gaze at his face, smiling…
And just then, you heard a voice at the backyard and recognized it as his, then you heard your father beckon on you. He came to seek your hands in marriage the African way.
“She’s truly beautiful, and so African”
You heard him say as you enter, and things progressed into marriage.
It started sweet and dreamy, he loved and cared for you than you’d ever envisioned, his mother was like yours and his siblings respected you just like a sister. Africans are accommodating.
On days when the need arises, you gave up your wants for his comfort, Africans are loyal wives.
He gave up his for your happiness sometimes too, Africans are caring husbands.
You both loved and cared for your first child after his much-anticipated arrival, Africans are passionate parents.
Then something changed, maybe even two things ,you had an argument like never before, both of your voices rose high in the air that it made you wonder later why no neighbor knocked on your door ,they surely must’ve heard. He did something unbelievable, raised his hand and landed it on your cheeks, he slapped you, punched and hurt you so badly.
He seems not to be able to stop because it happens again and again, and while you muffle your screams and swallow the pain like syrup, you remember, the good old days when he looked at you each day with eyes glazed with fresh affection, when he says he loves that you’re African and he loves the whole of you, when he compliments your African outfit and morals. And then you decide again to stay with him till the end, to endure this pain till your beast becomes a prince charming again.
Because African wives and mothers do not leave their homes empty.
No dear, they don’t. African wives and mothers endure and stay to protect their homes. Africans are compassionate too, they are humane and not cruel. African fathers and husbands aren’t beasts, they are amazing and caring. They don’t abuse their wives or children, they don’t hurt females.
Dying in silence isn’t African either, Africans are patient and kind but they use their voices when it is necessary. They don’t die in silence, they leave pain when they see it.
You are African, your blood is, your manner and your way of life is. You don’t need anyone to make you feel less, you don’t need anyone to change your mind about what it means to be African.
Author: Oyesanya Sofiyat
Author Bio: I am Oyesanya Sofiyat Orebowale. I am a graduate of the university of Lagos, Nigeria, biochemistry department. I love to read widely and I love to write. I love a lot of things about nature.
Link to social media or website: https://medium.com/@Sopheeyah