Aunt Amina.

You know … the aunt with the high, nasally, whinging voice. The one who goes on and on about her suffering. She’s always got something she’s complaining about. Worse still she’s always asking for help with fixing her myriad troubles.

If it isn’t demanding that you pick her up to go to family lunch, then it’s listening to her gripe about her bad hip and swollen joints all the way there while complaining that you’re driving too fast. At the family table, she’s the one whose stories evoke depression – her never ending liver pains, her battles with bad neighbours who break into her house and steal her food all the time, the rats in her kitchen that can’t be eradicated, her ex husband who doesn’t speak to her, her tussles with the local police when she attacks the neighbour’s dog for barking too loud with a broom before being restrained in cuffs, her friends who keep dying left right and centre, her unhappiness and distress. And always in that high annoying voice.

So eventually, after one too many longsuffering lunches and griping sessions, you slowly but inevitably switch off. Compassion slowly oozes from inside you as you roll your eyes in your head as she corners you in the kitchen to tell you about her bung knee. You’re forced to nod politely when she goes on and on and on. You look around desperately for a way out of babysitting her, but the rest of your family artfully dodges you both, relief plastered across their faces as they make their quick escapes.

You stifle a yawn, you achingly smile through your suffering. You wish she’d just disappear and stop giving you major guilt trips about not being able to help her – because you’re the best of the lot. The rest of your family avoid her like the plague. You’re the one who still tries to give a little – a little care, a listening ear, a few dollars to help her pay the rent, you pick up her groceries and fill out her prescriptions. You even see to her laundry.

You give and you give and you give some more. But it never seems enough. You’re tired. Weary. Fatigued. Of Aunt Amina and her problems. You have nothing left but a slight and shameful disdain, interwoven with guilt for thinking so poorly about her.  You don’t want to hear any more griping from Aunt Amina. The truth of the matter is that you’re over her troubles and you’re over her.

boko-haram-kills-48-in-another-nigeria-massacre

Africa.

You know … the continent with the one too many tragedies to think about. The one that can’t seem to get off its feet. The continent with its many countries that always seem to need some help with their endless pit of calamities. The one where the news is rarely good and seems to go on and on about massacres and genocide, about famine and flooding, about droughts and flooding, about human suffering and war, about AIDS and Ebola.

So eventually, after one too many longsuffering accounts of Africa’s troubles, you slowly but inevitably switch off. Compassion slowly oozes from inside you as you roll your eyes in your head as yet another story headline points to more tragedy in Africa.  You shake your head in weary horror as the newsreaders go on and on about another massacre in Nigeria, another outbreak of ebola in Guinea, more fighting and killing in Sudan, more unrest in Somalia and terror attacks in Kenya.

You look around desperately for a way out of discussing your own continent when foreign friends bring its tragedies up in conversation, as the rest of your African family artfully dodges the realities of Africa, relief plastered across their faces as they ignore the issues on Facebook and Twitter.

You stifle a yawn, you achingly smile through your longsuffering. You wish Africa’s problems would just disappear and stop giving you major guilt trips about not being able to help her – because you’re the best of the lot. Many in your community avoid her like the plague. The refuse to return home to the gut wrenching poverty and insecurity.  They only want to speak of ‘Africa rising’ and avoid any negative press about their home countries. You’re the one left who still tries to give a little – a little care, a listening ear, a few dollars to African charities and causes.

You give and you give and you give some more. But it never seems enough. You’re tired. Weary. Fatigued. Of Africa and her problems. You have nothing left but a slight and shameful disdain.  You don’t want to hear any more griping about Africa. You’re over its troubles and you’re over her.

boko

Simplistic. I know.

Africa’s troubles and our responsiveness to them is a tad more complex than I’ve outlined. But there’s some truth to the analogy. There’s been recent questions about why the world seemed to ignore the recent massacre in Nigeria of 2,000 in Baga, whilst rallying behind the 12 Charlie Hebdo victims killed in France.

Regardless of the global media, there has been little African coverage if none at all on the massacre, echoed by an almost eerie silence on social media. There’s been little or no talk of a solidarity movement as Africans lay low, seemingly neglecting their own people’s suffering.

Thus my theory – could it be that Africans ourselves are tired of our own continent’s troubles? Are we driven to helpless despair and desensitisation,  lost and befuddled in compassion fatigue?

Apart from the #bringbackourgirls campaign, very little has been said by Africans in recent months about the unfolding crisis’ in our countries of birth. Could it be we’re knee deep in compassion fatigue? That we’re tired of hearing the bad news about our own people? That we feel helpless to hold back the tide of our own tribulations? That no matter how much we try like we did for the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, that we can’t really make a difference because progress is hemmed back by poor leadership, ineffective governments, corruption and general malaise?

Friends, it’s so easy to grow weary and disheartened. I know. I feel it too most days when I read or watch yet another terrible newscast about my beloved continent.

But we cannot grow weary of doing good. The worst that can happen for Africans as a whole is apathy and disenchantment. We cannot allow ourselves to lose our love and enthusiasm for our people.

We cannot lose heart.

Why? The lives of individuals like you and I hang in the balance. We have to keep marching for our brothers and sisters caught up in strife. Who knows, perhaps that one gathering in solidarity will move our leaders’ hearts and minds to actually get off their chairs and actuate change.

Democracy, freedom, and equality for all countries, peoples and tribes in Africa is not a sprint; its a long journey of consistent activism. We need to hang in there for the long haul.

While this could be seen as is very controversial I’m going to quote the bible. Friends, “don’t grow weary of being patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. Don’t grow tired of manifesting your peace and joy in all kinds of acts of love to your neighbours and associates and family”.

In short, don’t lose heart in spending yourself through love.

Let this sink in: What is at stake is people’s lives – our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles and even Aunt Amina.

We cannot let evil men, terrorists and unchecked disease to take hold of our precious continent. So please, support the hashstags, write to your members of parliament, petition your governments, start campaigns against the spread of militant jihadists in your town, raise fund to help your communities back home. Take a stand and do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall all reap, if we do not lose heart.

 

For more on the largely ignored Baga massacre, read The Guardian newspaper Africa network’s take – ‘Why did the world ignore Boko Haram’s Baga attacks?’ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/-sp-boko-haram-attacks-nigeria-baga-ignored-media 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Afritorial

Neva is a storyteller and media strategist with a background in PR, film, advertising and digital marketing who is passionate about technology, new media and the endless possibilities of the social and mobile sphere. Read more about her on our 'About Us' page.

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