The Global South part 1

April 15, 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, I studied Swahili.  Every time I sign up for a new computer program thing, or download something I always look to see if Swahili is included as one of the optional languages.  As you may be able to guess, it rarely is.  Ever more rare is the presence of Lingala, another language I studied which is similar to Swahili.  Why?  Why isn’t Swahili an option?  The people of Central Africa computers.  They use computers.   In fact you probably knew this courtesy of someone who is willing to give you millions of dollars for a nominal fee to open a bank account or buy some sort of insurance.  This is called the Nigerian scheme.  Surprise! Nigeria is in Africa. (Important to note is that Igbo and Yoruba are rarely included language options, which are the dominant languages of Nigeria although not the official language)  But back to Swahili, Microsoft even gave them a computer nod a few years back by creating “Madarisha”.  For those who have lost their translation dictionaries, this means “Windows”.  Why can’t I (or more importantly, someone for Sub-Saharan Africa) get iTunes in a bantu language?  Maybe I am just hyper sensitive about Africa since I studied it.

Go find someone from Africa.  Either first or second generation.  They are easy to spot.  Usually well dress, hard-working, a bit of an accent (like a muddle English accent) and on the average shy but extremely polite (Please don’t tell me how bad stereotypes are, find a greater number of exceptions to the parameters above than people who fall into that group and I will consider changing my opinion).  So you have found someone.  Ask them where they are from.  I do this frequently, much to the embarrassment of my girlfriend.  More embarrassing still when, in Swahili, I ask if they can pull over so I can vomit. Back to topic, ask them where they are from and they will reply plainly “Africa”.  Please bear in mind that Africa is a continent, not a country.  Only when pressed will they reveal the country they are from.  Why?  I have yet to tell someone I am from North America, in fact I am nearly insulted when someone alleges that North Carolina (where I am from) and South Carolina (not where I am from) are the same.  Is this rude of me to assume that someone knows where America is?  No.  But so few people even begin to grasp the African continent that first and second generation African-Americans  have given up trying to explain.  Even Miss Teen South Carolina could find a continent on a map right?  But good luck finding someone who could identify Seychelles, which has one of the highest literacy rates on the continent.

So Africa is the big continent near the bottom of the map.  They speak languages that are unimportant and countries aren’t particularly important.  But could you draw a map from the angry tree that doesn’t like cars to Hagrids?  Or even worse, do you know the name of the language in Avatar?  I think the Harry Potter movies are great (I have yet to read one of the books) and I enjoyed “Avatar”, but pick up an atlas or a National Geographic.  Read a little about the “bottom” half of the planet rather than a fake one.

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One Response to “The Global South part 1”

  1. joy trogdon said

    I’m looking so forward to following the insights into your brain via a blog!! And on a different note, the dead fish proverb has epitomized you since you decided you didn’t want to be right handed like everyone else and started using your left!

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