I thought I knew Africa and I guess I did in a distant kind of way you think you know that new couple that’s just moved into the street. That is another thing about this new England. Someone kills their Missus and the neighbours tell the reporters – We didn’t know them too well…but they seemed like a happy family.
I learnt about my Africa from the programmes of the late sixties and early seventies – Tarzan, Daktari and Black people from the Black and Minstrell show, Love Thy Neighbour and other programmes BBC or Thames TV felt was the best way of portraying a whole continent to the world. After watching them I grew up fearful of this place of deep dark jungles where tigers and lions lurked ready to pounce on the brave colonial hunter.
A place of bedlam where semi-naked people communicated in grunts and shrugs, fought against each other and waited for Tarzan to swing past on his rope and save them from mortal peril. It was no wonder that the kind of man I wanted to marry back then looked more like my Barbie’s consort Ken than my Father.
The only other black man I saw on the Tele that wasn’t either pointing a gun or a spear in someone’s direction was ‘Bill’ in ‘Love Thy Neighbour’.