“Who is your neighbour?”. If you’ve ever had to deal with an exceptionally unpleasant person, you’ll agree this question is worth asking. The entire conversation around this question is interesting. Aside the difficulty with coming up with a definition, we often find that some people we consider neighbours tend to be quite the opposite. As a Ghanaian I often hear people proudly and confidently profess our “hospitality”, as if we’re all one and the same. But the truth is we’re not all hospitable. From my early school days, I learned of our geographical neighbours to the north, east and west, who happen to all speak French. But the Nigerians, who are two countries away are to some extent closer neighbours. Perhaps it’s because we’re both English speaking nations, or perhaps it’s how much of our sports, or music or movies we do together. But even then the cap still doesn’t fit right. The densely populated neighbour Nigeria would, in the strangest of ways, without reason, feel superior to Ghanaians, whilst Ghanaians will continue to blame their neighbours for every crime possible. Perhaps it’s historical, or perhaps, even political, but it brings the neighbour tag under scrutiny.

We won’t quite figure out a one-size-fits-all definition for who a neighbour is. But what’s within our reach, is understanding the relations we have. This August, our guiding theme is “My Neighbour’s Keeper” and we’ll be discussing the good, the bad and the hypocrisy of our relationships with one another as well as the strong need to be better neighbours’ keepers.

The growing African diaspora is evidence of the need for this discussion. Country borders are becoming less physical, and to forge forward we’ll have to be able to work together. Rise Africa, is building a community of neighbours who’d be each other’s keeper. Through our platforms we strive to foster a community of Africans who have the confidence to speak their voice and the awareness to engage in productive conversation with one another about the shared and unique lives we live as Africans and members of the African diaspora. We imagine an Africa, where we’re all involved, where we’re all neighbours.

As always, we value your participation. Share your experiences and reflections on your neighbourliness with the Rise Africa community. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in this series, we encourage you to contribute. Just e-mail us at info@africaisdonesuffering.com for more information. Click to access all articles under our August 2013 theme.

Now before I sign off, ask yourself, how have you been a better neighbours’ keeper? I don’t know about you, but I myself have a long way to go…

-Michael Annor

original source for image: photostream/colognid

  • Mondaoko

    In order to maintain a good relationship with any fellow African no matter the country, I simply act like the African that I am without prejudice. I’m from the two neighboring country that can’t stand each other at the moment. I lived in Congo & Rwanda. People on the borders have no problem with each other because they know each other compare to those who live in big cities. The problem comes from the main cities like Kinshasa & Kigali, they create the condition for people to not trust each other. I meet people who lived Kinshasa who have never visited Goma or Gisenyi to see the relation between the 2 populations, but from Kinshasa they’ve made up their mind to hate Rwandese people & vice versa. Once a while I meet people who understand that those ideas that both people have of each other was picked up from what they’ve heard not from what they’ve experienced themselves, but now if we talk about war we must remember that those are political decision, decided by politician. If it was decided by the people who live close to one another on a daily basis the story would have been different.