“…….The experience of the Afrigasm is limited to a particular group. We tend to be white Euro-Americans and are drawn to Sub Saharan Africa by an urge to explore and to do good, or by a more existential desire for an encounter with radical difference. We come as tourists, interns, entrepreneurs, volunteers and exchange students. Quite a few of us engage in sustainable development projects, while others’ efforts are more short-term in nature or draw some criticism here and there (think Invisible Children). What we all share, however (and this is crucial to get an Afrigasm), is an “Africa Sweet Spot,” which we express in This is Africa-themed stories that keep the home-front updated about our African adventures. We used to write endless emails about these experiences, but now we post them on our blogs and successive FB posts. ‘This is Africa’ or TIA, connotes the exotic and romantic randomness that we Western visitors attach to Africa. TIA sentiments are the foreplay of our Afrigasms, and they overwhelm us every time we witness ‘the hopeless continent’ in action.
Afrigasms feel as good as they do because they confirm the way media (and our own local mythologies, passed around by and down from friends and family) taught us to view the continent: Mostly a place of hunger, disease, helplessness and struggle. They consolidate the position of the African other. This African other is slow, late, poor, powerless, dress”es funny, drips exotic, and speaks with the television African accent. He or she always has time to chat. No rush. We admire his courage to live by the day, we adore her children and can’t get enough of the amazing stories he has to tell: everything from tragic sob-stories to courageous struggle narratives. We respond open-mouthed with “Oh my God, so you were beaten up by the apartheid police”? Afrigasm! …..