I’m not sure about the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe, but I recall attending a society function where I met a man dressed in Nigerian formal menswear – a full outfit with agbada, made from white Guinea Brocade. It is unusual to see men dressed like that in Harare and since I recognised the clothes, I approached him, thinking he was from the Nigerian High Commission. In actual fact, he was a deputy minister in the Zimbabwean government of that time.
Anyone who is truly familiar with Africans from across the Sub Saharan region can tell that there are differences in facial features from region to region. There are many cases however, when we need to tell each other where we originate from. The deputy minister in question could have come from any part of Black Africa, based on the way he looked.
We had a pleasant conversation about this fact and I was surprised that he had taken to wearing clothes from another region of the continent, especially when making a public appearance in his ministerial role. He gently admonished me for making assumptions about such an issue, which I accepted with good grace (I think).
The more we mingle and share aspects of our regional cultures, perhaps we will get to understand and trust each other more. Hopefully this will lead to collaborative ventures that can fast track development and prosperity for our people.
Could food be the next frontier for this sort of cross fertilisation of African derived heritages? Will there be a day when I will feel comfortable with Ethiopian, Eritrean or Somali cuisines? Perhaps there should be more encouragement of intercultural exchange as part of a bridge building agenda.