I am a Black American woman who has dated and been around many African men for most of my life. I have also traveled to Senegal, Guinea, and Sierra Leone and witnessed the culture myself. I am engaged to a Sierra Leonian and love him dearly but really can't understand why he must be so flashy when he arrives back in Africa, ESPECIALLY when he doesn't have much funds in the U.S. I feel like this flashiness perpetuates the false idea by Africans that once you go to America, you become rich. This has created alot of problems with my finacé because once he arrives in Africa, it's as if everyone has their hand out. People EXPECT to be taken care of generously, and I don't mean just immediate family, I mean 3rd. 4th, and 5th cousins! School fees, house fees, food, clothes, How is it possible for one man to do? He was lucky because he worked very hard, gathered up his OWN funds considering his meager means, and made it out. But many of his other family members didn't have the drive that he had, and now they expect him to take care care of them because he made it out.
It's not only with my fiancé that I've seen this, I've seen it with many other African men. The younger ones are the worst, especially when you see them on the plane. They are the ones flashing the rhinestone caps, jackets, and bootleg iPhones. I just think it's sad because it feeds into the false ideals. I've known many young men who have nothing in America--barely scarping by, living off of someone, usually an American woman-- that go to Africa and are regarded as kings. It's almost laughable, but not, once everyone sticks their hand out. Please explain this phenomenon to me. It's quite upsetting to me because I can see the stress that my fiancé goes through, but at the same time, he will travel with 3 HUGE suitcases and a shiny laptop and cell phone (both of which can't be used in Africa most of the time because of limited power and WiFi), and it feeds into the myth. Meanwhile he is struggling here in the U.S.
I think another problem that I have, is that with my observance of the culture, I see the flashiness and wastefulness more in the men than the women. In my experience, when I give a man some money, he will take all his friends to the bar, buy new clothes, and hand off little cash bills to younger siblings. Then, the next day, they will come back asking for more money, and they can't understand why it is so hard for me, a "rich" American, to share. Whereas I've seen that an African woman will take the money and invest it wisely in her family and her home, or try and start a business. I've always seen the positive effects of what an African woman will do when you give her money. (These are generalizations of course, and do not include dictator's wives, mistresses, prostitutes, and the like--I am talking in general about the everyday African woman going about her business).