Jes a Throwback Blog (2008 Liberia is Not Zumunda)

Eddie Murphy set the standard of blackness during the late eighties, early nineties.  It was because of Boomerang when black men started looking at feet, Harlem Nights and women wanted to be Sunshine, and of course the best one of them all, Coming to America where we as African-Americans learned that Africa wasn’t starving like them Feed the Children commercials, it was a place of milk and honey.  Home of Zumunda.  Eddie Murphy got people back interested in the Back to Africa movement, at least for a vacation and he gave us a vision to aspire towards.  Kings and Queens, who were cultured, sophisticated, intelligent, diligent, and bathed in Jacuzzi laced with rose petals.

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This is the Africa we dream of when we hear names like Madagascar, Ghana, Mozambique, and Senegal.  We hold Zumunda as the ideal of what we should experience in Africa, the music, the art, the heritage, the history, the fashion, the experience….

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And I am here to set the record straight…. if you are visiting Africa please note:  LIBERIA IS NOT ZUMANDA.  Its not, Liberia is just like Detroit. Only it would be Detroit after Hurricane Katrina hit it with FEMA being delayed by like 5 -7 years.

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Now, I am not in the position to speak on the behalf of all of Africa.  I pretty much am limited to one country out of a possible 52 for visitation.  It’s like someone to visit the United States to learn about America and they are limited to visit Oklahoma City.  It is not a fair representation and for those who know Oklahoma, it is a messed up representation of what America has to offer.  As well, I am not here to discourage those wanting to come to Liberia…its just well Liberia is Liberia.  Liberia is in the midst of trying to rebuild after a 12-year war almost wiped out its identity.  It’s a lost country that is trying to regain its pride and position. It used to be the standard of an African tradition. Now, it’s just standing.

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The other realization is that ex-slaves of the states settled Liberia so culturally your African experience is only an imitation of what they have seen in the movies.  I mean, I’ll be honest here. I really thought I was a member of the revolution at home. I went all natural, bought the t-shirts, wore the Afro-centric jewelry, paid extra money to do all natural body creams and soaps, I mean I was the little African Queen and when I get here…. everyone got a hair weave.  I mean, this is the most uncultured, cultural experience.  Most of the time I am answering questions about Akon, 50 cent, and apple bottom jeans and I thought I left America to become educated about the motherland, not give tips on how to corrupt the innocent with stuff like BET.

Its not all bad…just don’t get your hopes up if you roll through Liberia.

  • Don’t expect a congo drum line when you step off the plane.
  • Don’t expect people to walk through selling nuts and berries hair cream for a dollar, they use Dark & Lovely perm kits like us.
  • Don’t expect rose petals in the bathtub, on the floor, or anywhere…we coming out of a war. Resources are limited.
  • Don’t expect a dance hall standing routine like Coming to America’s entrance, the music is pretty much Keyisha Cole, Akon, 50 cent and this one African chick song that REPEATS THE SAME VERSE for ten minutes.
  • Don’t expect to jog down the street and all the kids will follow you like they did Muhammad Ali, in fact the people will out run you in flip flops.

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I mean I can do this all day, but the point is that Liberia is what it is. I hope of course the chance to visit more places and see more sights….but Eddie made the standard a little high….even Africans in Africa are looking for Zumunda.  That is the country of everything we should be, but it is another fantasy that hasn’t found a home yet…except in the DVD player.

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