On Africa


The other week, after a talk in a school in Mataró, I got chatting to Alioune Sangaré, a 17 year old student of African origin. His Catalan was so good I assumed that he was Catalan himself (eg, born here). No, no, he corrected me, he only arrived two years ago. Two years ago! I squawked, before asking where he was from. He told me French Guinea. So, in a mere two years, starting at age 15, this young man had learnt to speak, write and read both Catalan and Spanish from scratch. For my part, I didn't even know the name of his country's capital city.
Indeed, I have long suffered from a flabbergasting ignorance of all things African. Soon after meeting Alioune in Mataró, however, I started reading everything I could lay my hands on about the continent. Since then, I have been astonished to find that Botswana is its most politically and economically successful country in per capita terms; that Equatorial Guinea was turned into a hell of rape, pillage and murder by Franco's pathological placeman, Macías Nguema; and that Somalia had once been a stable, culturally and linguistically unified country, before being chopped into its current unworkable enclaves by five different colonial powers; or that the entire continent had once been a shifting, dynamic network of politically heterogenous cultures, ranging from authoritiarian empires to what would now be called anarchist communities; I even found out that the capital of Alioune's native country is Conakry. Every fresh fact has been a minor revelation, obliterating the hackneyed clichés I'd had about Africa for so long. Finally, I was able to appreciate the truth of Pliny the Elder's famous phrase: 'Out of Africa, always something new'. Fortunately for us, some of this something – and Alioune Sangaré is just one fine example - has come to Catalonia.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -