If I were not African, I wonder whether it would be clear to me that Africa is a place where the people do not need limp gifts of fish but sturdy fishing rods and fair access to the pond. I wonder whether I would realize that while African nations have a failure of leadership, they also have dynamic people with agency and voices.
It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity. This has never been clearer than in the view of Africa from the American media, in which we are shown poverty and conflicts without any context.
I look young. I heard this said so often that it became irritating. I once worked as a babysitter for a woman who, the first time we met, said she didn't want somebody in high school. I was 22. Later, I realised that in certain places being female and looking 'young' meant it was more difficult to be taken seriously, so I turned to make-up.
In primary school in south-eastern Nigeria, I was taught that Hosni Mubarak was the president of Egypt. I learned the same thing in secondary school. In university, Mubarak was still president of Egypt. I came to assume, subconsciously, that he - and others like Paul Biya in Cameroon and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya - would never leave.