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How African Are you?

02 October 2012, 13:05

What determines that you are an African? Is it the complexion; is it your race, culture? This question rises from the general perception that if you are white you are not African. But who determines that?

Being an African (black) is associated with many ideologies. Like weight for example; it is considered that as an African woman, being overweight or obese is a sign of good health. Cultural attitudes about fatness take a special toll on women. Women, especially in black populations, think being overweight is "something that is beautiful and attractive." As a result, 75 percent of black women in South Africa between the ages of 18 and 65 are overweight or obese, according to IASO (International Association for the Study of Obesity). The same is said for black men, a big pot-belly is a sign of wealth and riches; really people.  Taking care of how we look does not take away the wealth or the Africanness within us. Being conscious of what we eat doesn't mean we starve ourselves either. But it is just loving ourselves enough to want to die at very old age and because of natural causes and not of diseases that are brought about by being obese.

We let go of our health so that we can fit into the social and cultural statuses that basically leads to chronic diseases, heart failures and so forth. Being slim or of small stature is associated with sickness. HIV and Aids pandemic is very high in South Africa, therefore if a person is slim or skinny the most obvious reason would be they are living positively. But in essence even the obese, fat people are carriers as well.

So is being African how fat you are? Or where you were born? Or who your ancestors are? Alas l say being African is a mindset. If you are born in Africa, whether you are white, yellow, blue, black; you are an African. If you can trace your roots within the African continent, your ancestors and your lineage are in Africa, you are an African.

We need to take pride in the diversity that we have in South Africa; Indians, whites, coloreds, blacks are all Africans. So who are you to say one race is more African than the other? We are all Africans, and yes culture may have some bearing on how we define ourselves but being obese is not healthy. Let's take pride and love our bodies as well. Let's not be defined as a nation that prides itself in being overweight.

Let us not be defined by our weight or obesity or by the HIV and Aids pandemic. Let us be Africans because of our diversity, our values that are universal, our beliefs and unity.

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