Everybody is an African in one way or the other. Africa is the cradle of mankind. In other words, to be an African has nothing to do with skin color and it has absolutely nothing to do with language. You can find every skin color in Africa and every language you can ever think of, has its roots somewhere in Africa. So in reality, we are all Africans. However, in today's world, the term "African" has come to refer to a particular group of people with some distinct features. The question therefore is; who is "truly" African? is a black person born and bred in Africa more African than a white person born and bred in Africa? Is a black South African more African than an Afrikaner?
Is a black person born and bred in Africa more African than a black person born and bred in America?
Is a black person born and bred in America more African than a white Afrikaner? If so, then what exactly does it take to be an African? In other words, how can a non-African become African? and how can one increase his or her "Africanness"?
Eliminating skin color and language from the equation, the only thing I can think of is "culture and traditions". Although all black people have that "Black DNA", we are Africans because of our culture and traditions. In other words, our DNA plays very little to no role at all when it comes to what truly defines us as Africans. When it comes to physical features such as color and height, DNA plays a very significant role. DNA plays a very significant role in determining the color of our skin, the color of our eyes, our hair color, our height, etc. However, DNA plays very little to no role at all in cultural identity. In other words, although the "Black DNA" may determine our black color, the "Black DNA" plays very little to no role at all when it comes to what truly defines us as Africans. Skin color does not equate culture or nationality.
Before I continue, please pardon me if you find this article offensive. I don't mean to preach "disconnection". I am just asking questions. We are all one people.
Black Americans (popularly known as African Americans) have roots in Africa and so it is quite appropriate for them to refer to Africa as the "motherland". However, does having DNA "roots" in Africa make Black-Americans Africans? The answer to this question is Yes and No. Yes if we take the "Black DNA" into consideration but No if we take the "Black DNA" out of the equation. The question therefore is; is a black person from Tennessee who knows nothing about Africa, more African than a white person from Alabama who has spent most of his/her adult life volunteering in Africa?
African immigrants to the USA speak a variety of African languages and grew up practicing African culture. Blacks in the USA do not speak African languages nor practice African culture (there is a major disconnection here). They speak American English, are predominately Protestant Christians, celebrate American and many celebrate Christian holidays, and see the world through American eyes.Their culture is inherited from the community around them, which is American. Compare recent African immigrants to African Americans and Black Americans. A black person in the USA may have predominately African DNA but does that make him/her more African than the other racial groups in America?
Just imagine a white man who was born and bred in Africa but later on moved to the U.S and gained citizenship. Does that make him African American, Black American, or just American?
Most Caribbeans especially those from Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, etc., feel like home when they visit Africa and the reason isn't just because they come from third world countries but also because of that "African Connection". Jamaicans for example cherish their African roots so much to the point where they learn and teach "Africa" in their schools and homes which is great. There is always that connection to Africa from birth so when Jamaicans visit countries like Ghana in West Africa, they always feel like home despite the fact that they don't speak the numerous African languages. The same can be said about Haitians, Trinidadians, and even Guyanese. I was shocked when my Guyanese friend told me he knows all about "Ananse Stories". To those of you who don't know, Ananse stories are stories told (mostly by elders) to teach moral values (mostly to children) in Africa. According to my Guyanese friend, he learned about Kweku Ananse (the spider) and Ananse stories in school back home in Guyana which is great. The question now becomes; are Jamaicans, Trinis, Haitians, etc., more African than African Americans? if that is the case then what is the "cut-off" point where one ceases to be African?
When Jamaicans visit Ghana, they are mostly refered to as "Jamaicans" but when Black Americans (African Americans) visit Ghana, they are refered to us "Obroni" and sometimes Black Americans in Ghana find that term offensive. "Obroni" is just a Ghanaian term for "Whiteman". Does that mean black Americans have lost their "Africanness"?