Nature has an intrinsically fantastic character called diversity. Diversity is the spice of life. From variations in DNA compositions to genetic variations, down to species and community differences, each entity has a unique place and is indispensable in its adaptation and reproduction. Thus, each individual performs an irrevocable task significant for the sustainability of life. Although this sounds like some psychological phenomenon or some scientifically oriented, hypothesis, however, it has been carefully selected as a prologue to address a deep reflection that will subsequently follow.
There is a danger in judging a book by its cover and a more intense danger in relying on and propagating a single story. Covers matters and single stories could be fascinating, but dwelling in the euphoria of the aesthetics or the reminiscence of a single story will at the best amount to jubilating over half-baked bread. The potential danger could be imagined as a possible consequence of a continual denial of a proven truth- the truth eventually appearing as a lie, but that would not change the basic fact that it is the truth. Incomplete information or partial knowledge produces unsound, biased judgements resulting from a preformed stereotypical mind.
Many individuals, people, communities and nations have been stereotyped with only one single story put forward to be their only stories. Africa and Africans have received a huge dose of this menace mostly from the west dated back to the 16th century, when John Luck, a London merchant, made some ridiculous assertions about ‘black Africans’.
Africans are beautiful, multi-talented people with innovative minds and hard-working spirits. This is evident in the undaunted character of the vast majority of Africans towards success despite the shortcomings of the local economic and political space in which they found themselves. When outside the shore of their nations, Africans’ resilience and the ability for quick adaptation are strongly demonstrated with undeniable evidence abounding globally.
Here in Estonia, African’s community are waxing stronger with a positively strong influence in all sectors in which they found themselves. In education, for instance, the number of African students that distinctly graduate from institutions of higher learning are widening and some of these and increasing others have ceremoniously attracted the attention of the academic heads of the institutions batching various academic awards. Several Africans who were enrolled in ‘Doctoral studies’ have completed their PhD degree within the stipulated nominal 4 years, with remarkable accolades while numerous others who are awaiting the fulfilment of their nominal period are demonstrating outstanding feats in their various fields with high ‘impact factor’ and top levels academic publications in international journals.
Needless to talk about the ‘job market’ where lots of African graduates during and after completing their academic career are showcasing their multi-talents and hardworking skills, even to the amazement of their employer. Consequently, we are currently witnessing a surge in the number of African employees who are being awarded the title ‘the best staff of the year’ in their various workplaces. Africans’ contribution to the Estonia economic development would be better appreciated when the increasing number of tax paying and staff-employing companies (OÜ) and numerous startups, some of which are already running for years, are placed in the public domain. It could be shocking to some Estonians to know that at the heart of certain well-known companies in Estonia are indispensable Africans who either hold a key position in the IT department or are, by the virtue of their intellects and experiences, coaches that trained and supervises others in getting the work done.
Socially, Africans living in Estonia cannot be left behind, with tremendous concerted efforts demonstrated towards showcasing the very hospital and friendly nature of Africans to the host community. As a result, almost every publicly organized social event in Estonia is being attended by several Africans who, when given the opportunity to, reflect the continent’s beauty to the admiration and amazement of even the organizers. Africans have also created platforms to reach out to the less privileged by scheduled visits to some Estonian orphanages, laughing, sharing food, clothes and most importantly love. Also, in a quite hilarious sense, recent occurrences have indicated that Estonian youths are gradually yielding towards interracial relationships with Africans. Though many reasons could allude to this fact, one very obvious reason could be the sustained or lasting marriage relationships witnessed over the years between several Estonian and Africans who were legally married.
Thus, Africans do not present themselves as burdens to their host community, the single story does. Africans are not scammers, the single story is. Africa and Africans, though may be faced with several challenges, like every other continent, are not mentally poor despite their challenges, but the single story is. Africans, especially those who in the pursuit of furtherance in academic career found themselves in Estonia, are people of quality with intellectual capacities to positively transform their environment if given the opportunity. Nevertheless, this short piece is not underestimating the possibilities of pockets of bad eggs, but rather encourages that while concentrating energy on this single story, searchlights be turned also to the abounding numerous progress and benefits of Africans which have not been given any attention.
In conclusion, this write-up will not end without three popular but powerful quotes:
“We are all equal in the fact that we are all different. We are all the same in the fact that we will never be the same. We are united by the reality that all colours and all cultures are distinct & individual. We are harmonious in the reality that we are all held to this earth by the same gravity. We don’t share blood, but we share the air that keeps us alive. I will not blind myself and say that my black brother is not different from me. I will not blind myself and say that my brown sister is not different from me. But my black brother is he as much as I am me. But my brown sister is she as much as I am me.”
’’Stories have been used to dispossess, malign but stories can also be used to empower and humanize. Single stories can break the dignity of a person, but stories can also repair the broken dignity. When you reject the single story, you regain a kind of paradise.’’
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Estonia and the world at large will be a better place if we all learn not to judge a book by its cover but rather the value of its contents. It will be a better place if we give full credence to the entire story of ‘things’ rather than dwelling on the partial submissions of a single story. Estonia is a great country and Estonians are great people with diversities of talents. Telling a single story about Estonians or other race will only generate stereotypes and half-baked literates who will judge others based on the incomplete information at their disposals.
Written by Dr George Ayankojo
On behalf of: