So, I decided that my blog needs a name. And that as an ode to my time in South Africa and Mozambique, it deserves something more than “Nazish Dholakia’s Blog,” which I haphazardly created to serve as only a temporary placeholder while I mastered the workings of WordPress. After five months, I think it’s time is up.
Over the past weeks and months, I’ve struggled to find an appropriate name. I wanted something more than a vague title; no nonsense about journeys or travels or the road that is life. So the one I created in my days of ineptitude has had to suffice. Until now. Drum roll, please?
(I realize you’ve already noticed it at the top of this Web page. Humor me.)
Let me explain. Yes, it is Herbie’s racing number in The Love Bug, an indisputably great movie (at least, I loved it when I watched it at my end-of-the-year celebration in second grade). But more importantly, it’s the number of countries in Africa. Actually, even this is contested; it depends on whether or not you count the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Sporcle doesn’t, Wikipedia does. I side with what the majority of Google hits declared.
So why fifty-three?
When Ghana played Uruguay in the Quarterfinals, commentators heralded Ghana as Africa’s last hope of World Cup victory. But these commentators didn’t point out that Uruguay was the last South American team still standing, and surely Mexico was never relegated as the last ray of hope for the North American continent. Sure, these differences might have something to do with the way this World Cup was marketed as an African World Cup, a first for the continent. But I can’t help but think it also has something to do with the way the rest of the world lumps all 53 African nations, its one billion people who collectively speak 2,000 different languages, into one category.
Sarah Palin, in all her glorious idiocy, may have thought Africa was a country (I’m believing the rumor mill on this one, especially because it comes from that oh so reputable network, FOX), but I think her ignorance only betrays the more pervasive misperception that Africa is Africa. And this forgoes the reality that Stellenbosch, South Africa and Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya really are worlds apart. So why is there a tendency to overlook this?
Then again, I realize that this sentiment is not necessarily falsely and forcibly imposed upon the continent. I know South Africans, Kenyans and Tanzanians who rooted for Ghana precisely because it was the only African team still standing. But to underestimate the distinctiveness of each of Africa’s 53 countries is, well, ignorance.
In blogging over the past months, if there’s been anything I’ve tried to accomplish it’s been to shatter those hastily conceived misperceptions of what “South Africa” is (or really, what many outside South Africa thinks it is). Fifty-three is my metaphor of choice.
And I guess if/when I decide to venture beyond the continent, I’ll have to start brainstorming all over again.