Africa Has Cities

Sonic saves Africa

Sonic saves Africa

When I started this blog, I made a promise to myself to not speak on racial politics too much. I wanted this to be a blog about technology, scifi, and overall nerdiness from my perspective; a young brotha with kids. There are many more people out there that have excellent blogs where great cultural and political discussions are held everyday. I tend to drop comments out there. But, my kids and I had a great exchange the other day and it prompted this “short” post.

A few weeks back we bought Sonic Unleashed. I had to get this game as Sonic holds a special place in my gamer’s heart as one of the first truly awesome games. My son thought that the werewolf transformation was cool! The premise of the game is that Sonic’s world breaks up and he has to travel to different places to help put it all back together. In each level in the game, Sonic visits different parts of the world and takes down Eggman with the quickness.

In the second level he visits “Africa”. Now in the game it is called Mazuri, but it’s Africa (most likely it’s supposed to be Mali, one of the buildings looks like the Great Mosque of Djenne). And to no one’s surprise, the people lived in a village. Mud huts with thatch roofs, traditional African clothing, barefeet; the works. Now, you noticed I said, “To no one’s surprise”. Even mine. But for some reason, this irked me on the day I played that level. Why are Africans always portrayed as living in dusty villages with with lions and elephants running around? I posed the question to my kids and we had a very good lengthy discussion on the topic.

Now do I think this game is racist? No. Do I think the developers purposefully intended to make the “Africans” seem less technologically mature than the other societies in the game? No. But, it just begs the question, Why? Maybe no one on the staff thought of it? Maybe it’s just an accepted idea, Africa = no shoes, grass huts, beads, and wraps.

I know that Africa as a whole is not the most developed place in the world (why is a whole ‘nother discussion). But, Africa does have cities. Rather nice ones. There are cities with suburbs. There are cities with malls. There are cities with modern infrastructure. But it’s hard to tell in today’s media (games, TV, movies). A suitable analogy is someone only showing people living in trailer parks when talking about Americans. Is that accurate?

A few weeks ago, there was a dustup about the upcoming Resident Evil 5 and its portrayal of African zombies jacking a white woman for some grey matter. I think the argument about this game in particular is bunk and stupid, but my larger question/issue remains. Why don’t we ever see African cities in games or in the movies? Everyone doesn’t live in the bush. Here are some pictures to help those that may not believe me.

Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria

Nairobi, Kenya

Abidjan, Cote dIvoire

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

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About Geordi Calrissian

African American? Check. Nerd cred? Check. Star Trek? Check. Star Wars? Check. What else is there?

Posted on February 27, 2009, in gaming and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love your observation. I am a Nairobian and I am sure that many of you Americans would not easily find their way in Nai. . . All I’m saying, we do not live in (on?) trees.

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