Africa. The Motherland.
Beautiful. Strong. Graceful.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed about going to Africa. Being African American, I’ve always felt the strong connection to Africa and its people. My mother instilled in me at an early age of learning about my roots, how my people were taken from their homeland and how much we’ve overcome. My mom would dress my little sister and I in traditional Kente cloth. My dad would take me to the local library so we could research my family tree. I read more black history books than any other child I knew.
When I was in third grade, we had the chance to be pen pals with a third grade class in Côte d’Ivoire. About every two weeks, we would get a letter from our friends in Africa. The memories are so vivid of me being so excited, waiting with baited breath for the next letter. From that moment on, I knew that going to Africa was going to happen in my lifetime, no matter what.
When I read The Lost Girls (excellent book, by the way), the chapters about Africa were the ones that touched me the most. I was even brought to tears on numerous occasions. I instantly knew that I had to go, whether it was to volunteer or to just go and take a trip. But I have to go.
I’m a firm believer in knowing where you came from, what your roots are, what generations of people came before you. It shapes you. It frames you. As James Arthur Baldwin said, “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
My people are strong and courageous. They came from the shackles of slave ships. They endured picking cotton until their hands were raw. They protested for their civil rights. They helped establish the modern blood bank and performed the first successful open heart surgery. They invented the gas mask, mailbox, peanut butter, and the Supersoaker (fun fact!). And we have something no one saw happening in a million years, a Black president. My heart swells with pride. And I know that if my ancestors had the courage to make it, then I know I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
At this time in my life, my connection to Africa feels stronger than ever. I long to see where my people came from. I want to go to Kenya and dance with the Massai. I want to see the beautiful, smiling children of Ethiopia. I want to see the giraffes, see the sunset over the Serengeti. I want to see the pyramids of Egypt. I want to watch a football game in the Tamale Stadium of Ghana. I want to play drums with the Yoruba people.
Where are you from? Have you visited?