We’re back to school here at Messiah and it’s been an interest first day of classes. This semester I’m taking a class about the history of Africa taught by a man who grew up in Ethiopia. I’m sure it’ll be an incredible experience, since today alone he brought up an important question that I haven’t stopped thinking about since class ended. Why is so little known about African history in the America? A few ideas were presented in class, including the physical distance between the two, and the role of the media, who only seem to write about Africa when there’s something terrible happening. I think this role of the media is a huge aspect of our lack of knowledge. This tends to force Americans into a mindset of “Africa is backwards.” This in turn leads to the idea that Africa is less worthy of being studied. And then you enter the downhill slope of never caring about the history of this continent that is the second largest in both size and population. Personally, until now, what I’ve learned about African history has come from a class I took second semester that was a general education course on non-Western countries. Even in high school or grade school, the focus was on Western countries with the occasional exception of China.
With that in mind, I was considering this question and how China seems to be the exception to the Western-focused history education. The first conclusion I draw is that China is now an economic power, putting it on par with nations we tend to be more comfortable with. As such, we feel the need to learn the history of this rising nation.
More than anything, I feel honored to attend a school where a professor can ask a question that keeps me thinking throughout the day when I have many others things to do. I can tell that it’s going to be a good semester.