Wednesday, March 28, 2018

North Africans & African Identity (Quotes From A YouTube Discussion Thread And An Excerpt Of & Selected Comments From A 2015 Guardian Article)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post quotes the entire comment exchange (as of this date) from a YouTube music video's discussion thread in which other bloggers responded to a commenter who wrote that she is Moroccan, but that people get offended when she describes herself as African.

This post also provides an excerpt of a 2015 Guardian article by Iman Amrani entitled "Why don’t we think of north Africa as part of Africa?". Selected comments from that article's discussion thread are also included in this pancocojams post.

The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

As a reminder, I believe that selected comments from certain YouTube video/vlog discussion threads and other online sources should be collected, preserved, and studied now and in future for cultural, sociological, educational, and historical purposes.

Also, I reprint entire articles or provide excerpts and/or selected comments from hard to find or older online articles or difficult to find books to share their content and encourage people to read the entire article/book, if possible.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
Click for a closely related pancocojams post about Tinariwen. According to their Wikipedia page "Tinariwen is a Grammy Award-winning group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band was formed in 1979[2] in Tamanrasset, Algeria, but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s"...

COMMENTS ABOUT THIS SUBJECT FROM BM - MAKOLONGULU [a Democratic Republic Of The Congo music/dance video]

[Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only.]

1. Smileyghita 101, 2016
"Does being Moroccan mean that I'm African because whenever I say I'm proud tout be an African Moroccan girl people get offended"

2. Redblood Dady, 2016
"Smileyghita 101 Their are fool people all around the world. Don't listen to them."

3. Smileyghita 101, 2016
"Redblood Dady so nice of you I appreciate it๐Ÿ™"

4. Trade Services, 2016
"Smileyghitaaaa. Moroccans r the top arabs living in africa & saying they r africans. Luving u back sistaaa. of course u r an african. keep it real"

5. Smileyghita 101, 2016
"Biz Ness OMG thank you this is the positivity we need we're all africans and united"

6. quietatse, 2017
"I think it's to do with Moroccans, North Africans and other Arabs how they view black Africans. Hence why many Africans don't identify with them. They are more Arab than anything"

7. Smileyghita 101, 2017
"quietatse if I was located in Europe then I can't say I'm African but African blood runs through my veins and I'm proud of that

8. Queen S, 2017
"You look white...
And you aren't West African the ones the world sees no one sees a white woman or man whatever you are when we think of Africa"

9. Joanna Baptiste, 2017
"Smileyghita 101 don't listen to the haters girl, keep being a proud morracan african!"

From "Why don’t we think of north Africa as part of Africa?" published on Wed 9 Sep 2015 by
Iman Amrani
"I’m Algerian but sometimes it seems that ‘black African’ is the only category that exists. In truth, through our shared history there’s a strong glue that connects us.

When a Guardian article stated that Chigozie Obioma was the “sole African writer” to be longlisted for the 2015 Booker prize, the journalist in question had clearly forgotten there was life north of the Sahara. Thankfully, the Moroccan-born writer Laila Lalami, who was also longlisted, was quick to remind him, tweeting: “I am African. It’s an identity I’m often denied but that I will always insist upon”.

I know Lalami’s frustration well. Every time I have to declare my ethnicity I am reminded that “black African” is seemingly the only category that exists. Being both Algerian and British, I am constantly explaining why I identify as European and African – as though I’m “choosing” to be African, rather than it simply being a fact.

In politics and academia, north African countries are commonly grouped with the Middle East under the umbrella of MENA. In conferences I have been to on “African” issues, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have often had tokenistic representation, if any at all.

But the identity equation isn’t as simple as Arabic speakers equal Arab people. There are still communities across the Maghreb that speak Berber or Amazigh and a dialect called darija that heavily features French and Spanish phrases. Besides, being Arab isn’t an alternative to being African, or even black. Mauritanians and Sudanese can identify as all three at once.

The religion argument isn’t watertight either. Islam is the dominant religion in parts of east Africa and the Sahel, with notably large communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Perhaps then, it simply boils down to colour. Could it be that to be African is to be black? And if so, what shade will do? Are the South Sudanese, with a pigment that is dark, rich and beautiful, more African than their neighbours to the north, of lighter skin? Surely a categorisation based on race is too reductive and ignores the continent’s great diversity in nations, cultures and ethnicities.


Perhaps the glue that most strongly connects north Africa to the rest of the continent is colonial history. France’s colonial troops included soldiers from Algeria, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Niger and the Republic of Congo. These Africans fought side by side in the second world war and the traces of this are still present in the collective memory of these countries. The British used soldiers from Egypt, as well as many from the other former colonies including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

In 1962 north Africa and South Africa were both struggling against colonialism and apartheid when Nelson Mandela went to receive military training with the Algerian FLN in Morocco. In 1969, Algiers hosted the Pan-African culture festival. Historically, African nations have had shared struggles.

Of course, north Africa benefits from being linked to the Middle East, both for business and development. Saudi is in the top five trading partners both for imports and exports with Egypt, but this relationship shouldn’t be exclusive. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt share not only a colonial past with the rest of Africa, but also a physical continent. Although identity is largely subjective, some things are irrefutable and north Africa being in Africa is part of that."
Selected comments from this article's discussion thread which (as of this pancocojams publishing date) has a total of 343 comments.

Numbers for comments quoted in this pancocojams post are assigned for referencing purposes only.

1. BabyGenius 9 Sep 2015 9:30
"It’s because people are idiots, and expect everything to be (pardon the pun) black and white. To them, Africa = black people, and if you don’t fit that, you’re not African. “Got brown or white skin? You can’t possibly be African”, seems to be the line of thinking. If a country is in the continent of Africa, it’s an African country, and if you’re from one of those countries, you’re also African. Really not difficult.

Similarly, look at the ridiculous term ‘African American’, often used to describe any black person regardless of where in the world they’re from."

2. Reform62 reply to BabyGenius 9 Sep 2015 9:56
"Where do you think african americans came from originally? FYI AFRICA which is why african americans identify themselves as such. Note the word wording please AFRICAN AMERICANS IDENTIFY THEMSELVES.It doesn't matter how many generations. Europeans have been able to rename themselves with no question. Invade steal and commit genocide in the Americas Australia and Nw Zealand and they have become the majority and the native peoples minorities in their own land. European invade Africa export millions as slaves and when the descendants choose to identify themselves as africans people like you consider it silly and irrelevant.
It is about time african peoples can choose their own identity don't you think"

3. ambrosia2 9 Sep 2015 9:40
"Maybe the Guardian could start by putting North African countries in its African section, not "Middle East" or "Middle East-North Africa"?"

4. Westmorlandia reply to ambrosia2 9 Sep 2015 10:02
"Doesn't it make more sense, though, to have Egypt stories and Syria stories in the same place, rather than having Egypt stories with Kenya stories? It seems to me that the cultural connections are more important - and less arbitrary - than whether the country is on one side of Suez or the other.

I take the article's point that there isn't really a clear line between Northern and Southern Africa, but then there isn't a clear line between Europe and Asia, but you just have to make a decision and accept the imperfections."

5. Roberticus reply to ambrosia2 9 Sep 2015 10:44
"Sure, but you could make an equal case for including Europe as part of the Eurasian land mass. To be sure, there was a certain crossover and cross-pollination between this small Western rump and the Central Asian steppes, but I could equally argue for the Mediterranean Sea (and seas and waterways generally) being a more effective and intimate conduit for international and cross-cultural communication that landmass ever was. Hence, for thousands of years Marseille probably has had more in common with Tangiers than either have with Tashkent or Vladivostok."

6. ambrosia2 reply to Roberticus 9 Sep 2015 12:48
"Yes. I was merely pointing out the contradiction between the article and The Guardian."

7. Raggedclawscuttling 9 Sep 2015 9:47
"Not only colonialism but also slavery is a shared heritage:
Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab world, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa, Southeast Africa, the Horn of Africa and certain parts of Europe (such as Iberia and Sicily) beginning during the era of the Arab conquests and continuing through the 19th century. The trade was conducted through slave markets in the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, with the slaves captured from Africa's interior.

During the 8th and 9th centuries of the Fatimid Caliphate, most of those enslaved were Saqaliba Europeans captured during wars and along European coastlines. Historians estimate that between 650 and 1900, 10 to 18 million people were enslaved by Arab slave traders and taken from Europe, Asia and Africa across the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Sahara desert"

[comment page #2; same hyperlink]

8. Covadonga 9 Sep 2015 10:42
"I must say that the Algerians I know (actually from Algeria) think they have far more in common with Europeans - Africa is, thanks to the Sahara, completely alien to them."

9. Abdullaah45 reply to Covadonga 9 Sep 2015 12:33
"This may be from those who seek to distance themselves from Africa, but the city of Tamenrasset in the extreme South of Algeria is largely black, so any assertions from any Algerian that they are not part of Africa is due to not only an inferiority complex but also merely a sad expression of intellectual denial."

10. NorthOfTheM25 9 Sep 2015 11:01
"The issue has a lot to do with stereotypes & attitudes both real & perceived about who are considered to be the true' African'.
It does not help matters that the classic 'Northern' & 'Southern' African are represented in the media as of dark skin hue & light skin hue. Which may be true to a certain extent, but a keen observer knows that the reality is indeed different. The lighter skinned Arab Northern African is viewed as proud, an 'intruder' & the darker skinned Southern African is viewed as backward, aggressive . Leading to jibes that lighter skinned Arab Northern Africans should depart en masse to Southern Europe or the geographical Middle East where they are viewed to tend to identify more with.

There is also this media divide justified by the term 'Sub Saharan Africa'.
That unwittingly splits the continent apart into two distinct halves, from the contested Sahara Desert geographical marker to ethnic differences that split the continent on racial grounds. Whose experiences, politics, culture, narratives, society, ethnicities are viewed as distinct & totally separate entities (may be true to a certain extent). But on the other hand Northern & Southern Africa apart from sharing a continent, share more than the publicised differences. Colonial policies of divide & rule also formed a foundation to the Sub Saharan continental divide narrative.

The late Muammar Gaddaffi (may his soul rest in eternal peace) in a crafty continental political move, used the ingrained perceived 'North-South differences in the past to advance his influence across Africa, even before he took on a Pan African guise during the dying days of his regime.

At the end of the day Africa is not one, and like any other continent these divides do exist & are not going away soon. I think certain segments of society should appreciate the richness that certain positive differences bring to the plate & also appreciate that in our unique differences there exists a lot of similarity. All in all the article was a good read and helps to dispel long held false notions of difference."

11. KwameOpoku 9 Sep 2015 11:15
"You make a heavy matter out of an obvious fact that North Africa is as much part of Africa as Southern Africa. What the politics of the day or the racism of others may be should not obscure the fact that Abdel Nasser and Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory, had no doubt that we all belong to the continent of Africa and not to Europe or else despite the racist views and statements of Hegel and other philosophers of the European Enlightenment. The OUA and later the African Union as well as the United Nations ,UNESCO and other international bodies have no doubt where we belong. Colour of the skin is no determinative criterion of membership in the African family. We have all colours in Africa. Just ignore racists classifications and opportunistic associations. Kwame Opoku."

12. AngrySkeptic 9 Sep 2015 11:16
"The Arab conquest of North Africa and the modern attitude to Islam has somehow lumped this part of Africa in with Middle East in the diplomatic imagination. This certainly affects how many people have come to view the area. Many a serious, multi-volume world survey devotes a volume to "the Middle East and North Africa". Arabic is spoken in those countries and the West named the recent socio-political movements in Tunisia and Egypt as "the Arab Spring". It all helps to decouple the North from the rest of the continent. It probably has a long history, going back to the ancient world when the Mediterranean was the centre and all the countries around it connected."

13. NietzscheanCat 9 Sep 2015 11:26
"My father is Algerian and my mother is white-British. I have no idea what I identify as, really.

I'm not white, obviously. But I'm not Arab either. I suppose technically I'm 'mixed', but even that doesn't feel right.

Being 'born in the middle' made me question my identity from an early age, and I've never really felt like I fit in anywhere.

Maybe that's why I find it so much easier to identify with 'European'. Culturally I describe myself as British-European. Technically: Mixed British-European."

14. typernotfighter reply to NietzscheanCat 9 Sep 2015 11:33
"Just be yourself dude. :)"

15. SweetbabyJim 9 Sep 2015 11:29
"Arabs in North Africa don't want to be seen as African. One time in Cairo walking with a Sudanese girfriend we were accosted by a local who felt entitled verbally abuse her. Her reply, "I am a woman of Africa, what are you?" She translated the exchange for me, and told me that it was her constant reply to the constant verbal abuse she received from Cairenians. The racism of the poorest North Africans is an expression of their need to feel superior to someone. (And not just the poorest)."

16. Advaitya 9 Sep 2015 11:32
"The same is true of South Asia and East Asia. When people say "Asia" and "Asians", they usually mean people from South-East Asia and China, not Indians or Pakistanis or Sri Lankans. Its about racial stereotyping. People mentally associate each continent with a certain race. Europeans and North Americans are Caucasian white people, South Americans are Latinos, Africans are black people, Asians are mongoloid people and people who live between Africa and Asia are "Arabs" or "Indians"."

17. BigBanana reply to Advaitya 9 Sep 2015 11:41
"Weird. My mate is Chinese and he just laughs when people discuss "Asians" near him- they nearly always mean Indians or Pakistanis... "Of course you're not Asian- you're Chinese!"

18. Advaitya BigBanana 9 Sep 2015 11:46
"That's certainly the case in the UK. In the US, its the other way round - "Of course you're not Asian, you're Indian (or Arab, when they can't make out the difference)".

19. 8w0275auayio Advaitya 9 Sep 2015 11:50
"In Australia, Asians in the quotidian sense certainly means East Asians. South Asians will usually be called by the country, or Subcontinental. In Britain, Asians is South Asians on the street; you'd say Chinese for Chinese, and Japanese for Japanese, so essentially the inverse. It's just about common usage and which group got there in numbers first."

[comment page 3]

20. Charmant_mais_fou 9 Sep 2015 11:47
"Because we are brainwashed into believing that Africa is a black continent, instead of being home to people of every skin colour."

21. alhussainy 9 Sep 2015 11:53
"I've always asked myself the same question. Especially that people here, in Egypt, use words like "African/s" referring to black people mostly. Not mentioning the ridiculous racism against African migrants/ refugees.

If we considered history, I'd go for Arab conquests as a main reason."

22. Davidfras 9 Sep 2015 11:56
"My South African students in Durban would not be convinced by their refugee Eritrean tutor that he was an African.....they said he looked like an Indian and refused to accept his self defining."

23. Wolfgang Amadeus 9 Sep 2015 12:00
"Call me crazy, but, I think of north Africa as being part of Africa.

The clue is in the word "Africa"."

24. orstopitum 9 Sep 2015 12:06
"Why don’t we think of north Africa as part of Africa?

What a tedious and disingenuous question.
North Africa, as the name implies, is part of Africa and has been considered as such since the earliest times. Herodotus of 5th century BC would be a good place to begin.
However, the inhabitants of North Africa were not considered and did not consider themselves Aethiopians or whatever the current term for Black Africans might have been. The same holds today as you well know.
It is the loose use of of Africa or African to imply only the sub-Saharan part of the continent and its native inhabitants you should question, not whether Algiers or Cairo is in Africa."

25. abugaafar 9 Sep 2015 12:21
"The Roman province of Africa was roughly what is now known as Tunisia. The medieval Arabs took over the Roman term for the province and called it Ifriqiya."

26. Abdullaah45 9 Sep 2015 12:22
"The issue however Iman, is that many North Africans, maybe not so much in Algeria and Morocco, but defo in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia (with some also in Morocco and Algeria), themselves do not deem themselves as "African". I know this from my own expriences, travels and the places where I have lived, as I have substantial experience in the Arab world and North Africa, and I speak fluent classical Arabic (and one North African dialect with it), though I am of West African origin.

Moreover, the only North African countries which have sustained relations with West Africa are Morocco, and formerly Libya with Gaddafi! Yet within Libya itself, Libya is renowned for its anti-black racism, despite having its own indigenous black tribes, such as the Tawergha, they were totally turned on after the so-called "Libyan revolution" and looked down on as traitors and Gaddafi-supporters. Quite disgusting what happened in Libya with the Tawergha.

As for Egypt, then it is also a society replete with racism against Africans from West and Eastern Africa. I have even heard of blatant mockery of the black ethnicity there - again, in Egypt thy will have the audacity to deny this and attempt to defer claims of racism on to the Saudis and Gulf Arabs! Who have a kind of tribalism and nationalism - yet blatant anti-black racism is not found in the Gulf, they are slightly more reserved and respectful.

Algeria is slightly different, as parts of the country are mainly black, such as the city of Tamenrasset - and it is accepted more in Algeria that they are in Africa, this is my experience with Algerians in London aswell. Also, due to the Franz Fanon experience and connection to Algeria, Algerians became quite pan-African during colonialism and later.

In Morocco, they have good relations with certain countries, but again are quite ignorant some of them, as every black person they come across in Morocco, if not a Moroccan, is thought of as being from "Senegal" all the time! Quite ignorant really.

Also, there is the whole thing that in the English-speaking colonies and Anglo-hstory, the black power movement and black rights was strong, along with the civil rights struggles which led to an asserted black identity and pride in being black. This however, is not at all found in the Arab experience and they are largely ignorant of that experience and do not understand it, instead many Arabs only see "oppression" in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Hence, I have noticed that black communities within Arab countries, such as the blacks of Morocco, do not have any black consciousness per se, and they are either ignorant of their history or that part of Moroccan history is not taught - i.e., slavery in Morocco and its history from the time of Mawlay Ismail, and also with the sacking of the Songhay Empire in the 16th century wherein many of the Malians were enslaved and taken to Morocco. This is not taught in Moroccan history classes, and the people are ignorant of it except for specialist historians such as Chouki El-Hamel for example who has written on it. Though, it also has to be added that many are actually possibly indigenous to the region due to Southern Morocco's close proximity to the Sahara (the 'Haratin' peoples of Morocco and Mauritania).

In Sudan, some do not refer to themselves as being "black", though in Sudan they have a coloureful admixture of coloures which they use to describe their different shades ranging from 'yellow' to 'green' to 'blonde' to 'brown' to 'blue'! This is in Sudan.

These are the reasons why I think many West Africans, are like "allow dem North African bres then, they do not even consider themselves African anyway" - which is true in many instances. In North Africa it is pitiful to see them chase after white Europeans and bow down to them, this is something which West Africa does not have. In Morocco for example, they will kiss the backsides of white people at times, in ways which are quite demeaning. While a black person would be regarded as nothing.

I was in Brixton once in an internet cafe run back an Algerian guy I know, and he was quite pan-African. Some guys from an African country, not sure where, maybe Nigeria came in, and I think messed about with one of the computers. The Algerian guy said to them "we're not in Africa now you know". They took it to mean he was belittling Africa. Then he said to them "my brother, where have I come from myself?" Which I thought was a nice little: respek to the black fist, pan-African gesture on his part."

27. sw2boro reply to Abdullaah45 10 Sep 2015 4:45
"This is the kind of post I come here for. No idea how accurate it is, but a lot to think about!"

28. John Mkenya Peterson reply to sw2boro 10 Sep 2015 15:54
"Yep. A very rich post. Captures the different nuances."

[comment page 4]

29. Canaryatthewharf 9 Sep 2015 14:18
"The initial confusion is that many in Europe and elsewhere think of Sub-Saharan Africans as typifying the whole continent. Which is untrue, whether you look at genetics, culture, language etc.

Especially the history differs. The North African shore of the Mediterranean was an integral part of the Classical World. While the cultural unity was broken by the Arab Conquest of erstwhile Roman and Barbarian territory and the subsequent rise of Islam, trade links were still greater. As well as raids and invasions from all sides! While the Islamic states developed trade links across the Sahara, they never dominated the West African coastal areas . there were also Islamic states on the Indian Ocean coast of Africa two but these remained Arab controlled .

Short form, North Africa had fewer linkage (trade or culture) with most of Africa than it has had with Europe. So, while calling yourself European and African is a good shorthand for this mix, why not say from the Mahgreb? Then explain to anyone who asks that is a sort of African but like being Canadian is American but not from the USA or Latin American."

30. Parolled 9 Sep 2015 14:23
"Interesting article, for once religion only got a slight mention, the way it should be.

31. Celtiberico 9 Sep 2015 14:27
"The Maghreb has a Mediterranean climate, a Mediterranean coastline and its civilisations have been dominated by Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cultures and languages - Phoenician, Roman, Arab, French - for millenia, in times when transport by water was in general far cheaper and easier than travelling by land even in regions with a temperate climate. It would be extraordinary if the Maghreb didn't have more in common with the Mediterranean and Middle East than it did with the African cultures of the Niger Basin thousands of kilometres away across the Sahara. Just because it is part of the African continent doesn't mean it has to have a predominantly African identity - just as in the same way, Oman may be part of the Arab Peninsula, but it is noticeably more Indian- and Iranian-influenced in a wide variety of ways - again, not surprising at all when you remember that it has the Rub' Al Khali on the landward side with Arabia. Again, the east coast of Africa has historically taken a great deal of influence from the Mediterranean via the Red Sea, from Arabia and from India. It is hardly surprising that it has formed part of the Arab world rather than some kind of pan-Bantu civilisation."

32. frenegonde reply to Celtiberico 9 Sep 2015 14:43
"Perhaps it depends whether people mean African geographically (from the African continent), or African culturally and historically."

33. Celtiberico reply to frenegonde 9 Sep 2015 15:07
"From a social perspective, the precise delimitations of the continents are less significant than the climatic zones. The notion that by crossing the Bosphorus or the Straits of Gibraltar you instantly enter a new continent with a completely new identity would have come across as quite peculiar for most of human history - North Africa and southern Iberia would have had far more in common than what separated them down to about the 16th century with the expulsion of the Moors, and the coast of Anatolia was culturally Greek for even longer."

34. Plankconstanth reply to Celtiberico 9 Sep 2015 15:52
"The point is that the colonising effect--like the colonising effect of French vs. British colonialism--of Islam has thrown together Muslims from Senegal with Muslims from Morocco, say. The pious all dream of "making haj" and they must pray 5 times a day. They must also all do the Ramadan fast and celebrate the various Eids."

35. Celtiberico reply to Plankconstanth 9 Sep 2015 18:11
"The importance of religion can be overstated. Much of the Americas was converted to Catholicism, but Latin American societies are hardly the same as those of Catholic Ireland, Austria or Poland (which in turn are each very distinct from each other)."

36. Plankconstanth reply to Celtiberico 9 Sep 2015 18:38
"Most of Africa is Sunni Muslim. On Fridays go to a mosque in Kano, Nigeria, Dakar, Senegal, Casa Blanca, Morocco or Kano, Nigeria--and you will see the same. Outside those those mosques you will see the same Arab rituals: ablution and 5 times a day prayers--same style. Same Friday Arab clothing for jumat, etc. Same Arab colonial rules: no alcohol, no eating of pork, and up to 4 wives if you can afford it. A citizen of Namibia will know little of this. So why the lumping together of Namibia with Chad? Answer: naive pseudo-racism.

When talking about Africa just be more specific: West Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, North Africa, and East Africa. That's all."

37. Celtiberico reply to Plankconstanth 10 Sep 2015 5:31
" Most of Africa is Sunni Muslim.

Most of West Africa is Sunni Muslim, and a part of East Africa. I don't think Muslims would constitute anything like a majority in Central Africa, or southern Africa. Which is why this:

When talking about Africa just be more specific: West Africa, Southern Africa, Central Africa, North Africa, and East Africa. kind of ironic."

38. Plankconstanth reply to Celtiberico 10 Sep 2015 15:08
"Misspoke there. What I meant is that most Muslims in Africa are Sunni, not that most of Africa is Sunni Muslim.

[comment page 5]

39. Zuercher 9 Sep 2015 16:47
"Whilst I can't speak for all the other ignoramuses out there, I was taught simple geography in my earlier years of primary school and I had no difficulty then identifying North Africa as being part of Africa. I have had a 100% success rate in retaining that knowledge.
Sure, you're phsysically, culturally and religiously different and have different pre- and post-colonial histories. Learnt that at school too. But you're all still Africans. Only a buffoon would think otherwise. Maybe it's just you who has difficulty associating yourself with that ghastly sub-saharan riff raff.
After all, do you have difficulty thinking of Southern Europe as part of Europe? If not, why should non-Africans struggle with the view espoused in the headline?"

40. NickinFrance 9 Sep 2015 16:56
"I think of North Africa as part of Africa.

The clue is kind of in the name.....North AFRICA...or am I missing some incredibly subtle point here ?????"

41. Jay Stevens 9 Sep 2015 19:51
"North Africa has been culturally, economically and politically intertwined with the Mediterranean and the Middle East for thousands of years.

Egypt, Phoenicia, Carthage, Greece, Rome, the Ottomans.

Add in physical barriers like the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara and you can see why people don't associate the bit at the top with the bit underneath."

42. BRtemde reply to Jay Stevens 9 Sep 2015 21:18
"Arabs invaded North Africa, the Nubians once ruled a big chunk of it, and black people have mixed in with Arab and berber societies for longer than we can say for sure. So this dissassociation you speak of needs to change. Go to North Africa, if you haven't already, look at the hair and facial features of the people. Tell me they don't have black African blood. Many of them would try to claim that, and that's part of their problem too.

You know nothing"

43. Miimix 9 Sep 2015 20:30
"I am French of Algerian descent and a resident of the UK. I feel and identify as French mostly but I love my roots being in north Africa (just being a bit more specific geographically) – such an ancient crossroads of cultures! Sure, the Maghreb is in Africa. Most of Russia is part of the Asian landmass – however we don't think of Russians as Asians. Isn't the Middle-East in Asia too? Thinking of myself as an African is technically correct (my ancestors, some Berber people or the other, are indigenous to the African continent) and if anything it is a rather poetic notion. But come on, the average man in Algiers will always have more in common with his counterpart in Istanbul or in Beirut than with the average man in Lusaka. Conversely he might still have more affinities with the latter than with anyone in Finland (they're Africans!).

I think north Africans who strictly identify as Africans love the idea more than anything else. And yes, it is a nice idea – until you get verbal abuse from a "real" African for daring to say you're african "too" (after he threw a tantrum about being African). Man, he was angry. For him I was just a white girl ridiculing Africa. Yet I meant what I said. I am still waiting for that pan-African group hug to come one day... Until then I'll continue to wear my hair big and curly in pride. Every little helps.

But seriously, as much as I think that Africa is part and parcel of the north African identities (note the plural) – if only geographically, it is not as simple as saying Portugal is in Europe. People haven't been making /seeing this division for no reasons. After all the word itself, Africa (from the name of a Carthaginian or Berber tribe), originally referred to the Roman province that stretched then roughly from what is today the (north) east of Algeria and most of Tunisia, and later extended to the rest of the continent as it was "discovered".

Continents are separated by seas but that's merely a geological fact. It doesn't necessarily bind people together. Seas and rivers can be more of a pulling force. You need looking no further than the Mediterranean. Funny that!

The Africa in this opinion piece is a label. If anything countries in Africa should be able to think of themselves as they did before someone wrote "Africa" on a map. And he wasn't an African. Nowhere else has a land mass or continent become such a diluting catch all (with the persistent appropriation and plundering it's a chicken or egg thing)."

44. SimmondesKC 10 Sep 2015 3:19
""Why don’t we think of north Africa as part of Africa?"
1. religion (Muslim)
2. race (Arab/Berber)
3. language (Arab/Berber)
Apart from that I just can't imagine"

45. Ryan Herich reply to SimmondesKC 10 Sep 2015 8:55
"Lot of Africa is Muslim.

Race, Berbers are native Africans Arabs aren't

Languages are all different and others in Africa speak Arabic as well"

46. YouCanClaimThat reply to SimmondesKC 10 Sep 2015 9:03
"1. religion (Muslim)

Not exclusively. Check out how many Christians live in Egypt. You don't usually think of Egypt as an area where people farm pigs, but they do."

[comment page 6]

47. TruthSettingUFree 10 Sep 2015 13:42
"Because, for the most part, they are not true Africans. Just the descendants of Arab invaders."

48. mansour hamcherif reply to TruthSettingUFree 10 Sep 2015 15:47
"Would you apply the same logic on Australian, American, ... etc?"

49. Miimix reply to TruthSettingUFree 11 Sep 2015 5:03
"So north Africa was empty before the Arab invaders?"

50. davidcallun1957 11 Sep 2015 6:59
"With the article on ten things to have come out of Africa published in the Guardian the other day, I commented that two great things that Africa has given to the world are St Augustine of Hippo and Nelson Mandela. For some reason (and I shall not speculate here as to what this could be!), I got shouted down by other commentators for my reference to St Augustine, these commentators not accepting that St Augustine was to count as an African. As matter of fact, St Augustine was born in what is now Algeria and lived and worked in North Africa throughout his life and his ministry. It is no wonder that he thought of himself as an African. This writer is to be strongly commended for her thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion of a complex and fascinating subject."

51. Shokoh Ghanbarzadegan 11 Sep 2015 7:25
"The fact that it's on the same geographical continent should be enough as argument. As an Iranian I never understood why north Africa would be referred to as middle East...and i never understood why the Brits refer to continental Europe as Europe as if they are not a part of it. This in contrast to referring to the U.S. being "the other side of the pond" which in fact is a whole blooming ocean, as if emotions affinities can override geological facts."

52. BTHW04 11 Sep 2015 10:27
"It's Maghrebians who refuse to associate themselves with sub-Saharan Africans or any African institutions. As one once said to me ,"We are in Africa, but are not Africans"."

53. Brandon Pilcher 11 Sep 2015 22:27
"Honestly I do think there is a good case to be made for distinguishing modern North African culture with heavy Arab and other Middle Eastern/Mediterranean influences (both cultural and demographic) from other regions of the continent. At the same time, it must be understood that those influences are historically recent developments rather than indigenous to the North African region. For example, the culture of modern Islamic Egypt is indisputably different from the native culture of ancient Egypt, which you could fairly call African (in the same sense as the northern Sudanese and Ethiopians of the time)."
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