Welcome. We're here at Afrikiko, a Ghanaian restaurant in Houston, Texas. And today we're going to be talking about reversing the gaze and thinking about Africa through American eyes. Now unlike the other sections of the course that are focused on a particular country, this one is focused on an entire continent. And unlike those places, well let me say this, for those countries, I think Americans know those countries often through their cuisine. But Americans, I think, don't know Africa through its cuisine, for a variety of reasons, but because there are not many African restaurants in the United States. People might be familiar with an Ethiopian restaurant. But Americans are not really familiar with a restaurant like this which generally serves African communities that live in an urban area. >> So, if we don't know Africa through its cuisine here in America, we still hold some stereotypes about Africa and we still have ideas about Africa as Americans. And in my opinion, from what I observe, a lot of those stereotypes are negative. >> Yes. So I think, and I think it's good to start with this, because I do think that many of the stereo types that Americans have about Africa, are negative stereo types. I think Americans tend to think of Africa as a place of warfare, a place of famine, a place in need of- >> Epidemics. >> Epidemics, a place in need of assistance. A place where- >> To be saved. >> Yes, to be saved, a place that requires the assistance of the west. And this is obviously a very troubling image. And I think it also is probably linked to why we don't think of it as a place of cuisine, a place of culture, or a place of high culture that would encourage a cuisine that we'd want to participate in. >> But I'd like to think of the modern Africa. All the organizations that are coming up to help African states. >> Yes. >> And all the wonderful development that's happening. If you can address some of that. >> Yeah, so as I just said, I do think one of the problematic images, is that Africa requires our help. And it is not untrue, that there's a lot of development aid, and money that goes to Africa. But of course, Africa itself is a place of incredible economic development, and really transformative political economies. And within the countries themselves, there are lots of policies in place to help transform those economies but there are also regional and continental organizations where African countries themselves work together to support each other, to help transform the position that they're in. And so I think it's important for Americans, I think Americans are sort of ignorant, I think, of the types of assistance or the types of organizations that exist on the continent itself, because they tend to think of it as a place that's always getting help from the outside. >> I want to take the historical perspective and ask, okay. Africa is a singular place, isolated, but Africa has been integrated with the rest of the world even before the Americas. >> Yes. >> I mean. >> Yeah. But so you have an enlightened perspective in many ways because as an historian these are things you know, but I think many Americans tend to think of Africa as a very closed place. >> And in fact, there was this historian in the 1960s who actually argued that history in Africa doesn't really begin until Europeans come to Africa, which is a crazy way of thinking. And of course, as an archeologist, I know that the history of Africa is incredibly deep and incredibly diverse, and very much linked to the rest of the world. So in East Africa, where I work. We know of the incredibly deep and long connections to the Indian Ocean world. In West Africa for better or for worse the connections are strong and long into the Atlantic world. And in North Africa, we know that the North Africa is really a part of the Mediterranean world, and even on the continent itself I think there are really amazing and radical migrations and transformations. Complex societies that emerged all over the continent before the Europeans even arrived. So that history is also, I think, kind of an invisible history because Americans know so little about those stories. >> It's invisible to Americans much more than even to Europeans. >> Yes, very much so. Yes, I agree. >> And so what about positive stereotypes? Is there any positive imagery about Africa that Americans tend to hold? >> Yeah, so this is complicated too because I think there are positive images of Africa. But, well, let me say this, I think the positive images that Americans have of Africa tend to be about its natural beauty, its wild animals. It's a place where people go on safari, it's a place where people go to see lions and zebras. It's also a place that I think people feel there is an authentic, a sort of tribal culture that still exists in Africa. >> But this is like romantic, primitive, exotic, right? >> Yes, yeah, and so that's what I was sort of trying to get at is that there's a really, even the positives, I think, are really problematic, because they kind of hide this notion that Africa is a kind of a primitive, backward place. And so, yeah. >> How would you suggest that we really understand Africa? >> Yeah, so this is a complicated thing. I mean, Africa is a massive continent with 54 countries, over 1,500 languages. So the first thing I think that Americans need to do is to understand that, is to stop thinking about Africa as a country. It's a continent. In the same way that you wouldn't want to extrapolate over all of South America you shouldn't do that for Africa. So I think, on the one hand, understanding the diversity and the complexity of the continent is a first step. I also think that the press, I think that the media that Americans get about Africa. It's very restricted, it's very small, and it tends to focus, I think, on sort of negative, some of the most negative things that are occurring on the continent. And so if Americans truly want to understand the complexity of the continent, I think they need to kind of push deeper than the small stories that make it onto the front page of the New York Times. And to look at some of the fantastic things that are happening in Africa. Some of the amazing transformations, and as well as it's a continent that also does have its problems. But to contextualize those into the some of the richness of the continent itself. >> And the cuisine and the different. >> Yes. So, this is interesting. This is a very traditional Ghanaian and West African food. But it's almost impossible, really, to say there is an African cuisine, because the cuisine is different all over the continent. There are some commonalities, but some of these things, the fufu is something that we find in other forms across the continent. But things like jollof rice and the other food, the peanut soups, are really West African cuisines. So the complexity of the continent I think begins to shine right here in our table. >> Regional diversity of our table. >> Yes the regional diversity of our table and I think maybe we should just dig in and eat some of this food. >> Thank you. >> Yes. >> Please pass the fufu.