An African City: A new narrative?

 By Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig)

While the series is entertaining, I am not satisfied because I find myself asking when are Africans stories going to be valid for what they are, without having to have some kind of Western badge to legitimize them?

‘An African City’ is a 10 part webseries depicting the lives of five young women who are single and just returned home after growing up, studying and/or working abroad. You will find yourself thinking about Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of the Sex and the City women as much of the series has the women hanging out at trendy bars in Accra to talk (in their American accents) about their relationships and the difficulties of adjusting to life ‘back home’ over cosmos and occasionally Manhattans and Martinis. They of course are dressed fabulously, in beautiful African-inspired clothing by the Ghanaian luxury designer Christie Brown.

The show has interesting episodes from ‘An African Dump’, ‘Condom Etiquette’,  ‘Sexual Real Estate’ and ‘A Customs Emergency’. The creator of the show, Nicole Amarteifio, (a ‘returnee’ herself) has said this show was created as part of desire for “media that rejected the stereotype of the African woman as poor and dire, but as intelligent, modern and classy.”

For me, this show plays into another kind of stereotype of African. The main characters are all well-off, well-connected or both, the kind who spend up to US$5000 per month on rent for an apartment, have dutiful drivers and rich daddies or atleast sugardaddies.

In an interview with CNN, Amarteifio said, “I wanted the show to start a conversation — many conversations at that… In a world where you have African immigrants who are born and raised elsewhere, are they no longer African? Who decides?” It is fitting that she said that, because this series can be seen as the ultimate ode to ‘the Afropolitan’ movement, speaking to a particular experience of the African Diaspora or the ‘global African’.

The show thus becomes problematic for me, because, while I grant that Amarteifio is creating a narrative that speaks to her own reality, I can’t quite shape the niggling feeling that for this narrative to be valid and receive the attention it did, it had to be because it is another ‘African version’ of whatever hit international series there is. While the series is entertaining, I am not satisfied because I find myself asking when are Africans stories going to be valid for what they are, without having to have some kind of Western badge to legitimize them?

FURTHER READING:

WATCH: CNN: Young, urban and culturally savvy, meet the Afropolitans

READ: Why I Am Not An Afropolitan

READ: I am a Pan-Africanist not an Afropolitan by Binyavanga Wainana

READ: Bye-Bye Beber by Taiye Selasi (author of Ghana Must Go)

READ: Think Africa Press: The Afropolitan Must Go

READ: Madame Noire:’An African City’ Explores Love  and Life for Modern African Women 

 

15 Comments
  1. I like your interrogation of the kind of filter that’s required/created to make Africanism global…yet also grateful for the further reading you’ve recommended particularly the one titled “Why I am not an Afropolitan” I wondered if a certain radio station were to consider that essay, would it matter how they fare in terms of it given its profitability.
    Anyway yes I am female and brown skinned, but that only matters because a whole system of thought was applied to structurally deprive me of information/knowledge/words that engage all of my human capital. So code switching for me is about being sagacious in how I handle the legacy of discrimination, the nostalgia of tradition and the knowledge/information/words that pixelate a future…Vanguard is a culture I will never shun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>