Westerners familiar with the African continent always wonder why Africans always seem so happy all the time, despite our economic and social problems. Many have attributed this striking contrast to the weather in many third world countries. The sun is believed to lighten the mood and make people more affectionate and less beaten down by the difficulties of life. All this is probably very true. But I chose to dig even more into this. I tried to remember why I am now seen as a smiling woman in most places I go even to the point of gentle mockery. What makes ME smile so much?
When I was a teenager, I would get sulky now and then, when I felt offended, and of course the smile would disappear from my face. Every time it happened, every adult around me would scold me for being unpleasant. If we had guests at home, and I wasn’t smiling to them all the time, my family would say I was unwelcoming to them. And when I would actually smile or laugh, everyone would say I looked prettier and should do so more often.
That is how I became, with time, the smiling woman they say I am.
Africans smile all the time because there isn’t a better way to feel great about yourself and others than seeing someone smile at you. And it is something our ancestors must have understood a very long time ago. It also helps us deal better with our many problems. YOU ARE WHAT YOU SHOW. So we would rather see the glass as half full, and smiling makes us feel like we can overcome the harshest times. And by the look of things, we may have found something…