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My heart belongs to Africa

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My heart belongs to Africa

Gun shots, fires, children running scared, crying, hungry, dying, women screaming, men fighting. I am plagued by these images, which are passed on as fact representing my home. I am not naïve though, I know my home is not without its faults but that does not make me love it any less. Am I scared? Yes. Do I want to run away? Sometimes. But ask me if I love you and my answer is yes. Do I miss you? Of course.

I do not and will never deny you because you are a part of me like a mother is to a child. I will always come back to you. Your pedicle road left its dust in my lungs when it led me to my roots. The beautiful Luapula River that sits by the side of my father’s village. He took me there to show me where I came from so that I may know how far I have come, in order to know how far I can go. The church where my grandfather preached stands desolate but that does not take the pride away from my father’s face or my face. I am a product of the village life. I am not ashamed of that or of those that (solely) grew up in the village. My life in the city with its western influences has not eroded my memory of that valuable trip to my father’s village. There is no harm in the word village. People fear that it spells ignorance and illiteracy, but ignore its wealth of humility and unity. We still live in villages today. They are simply bigger and more divided that we here call Scarborough, Mississauga, Vaughn, and North York.

Ben Okri said it best. “The West is paranoid and thinks that the only thing people in Africa or Asia dream about is coming to live in London or Amsterdam or in New York. Actually, they would much rather stay in their home countries. They flee from the unfair distribution of wealth, the bad governments, and the bad roads. Life in Lagos or Accra is fun. Folks have a great time. However, in the media all you read is that life in Africa is hell. Africa is demonized as a vast continent of asylum-seekers. That irresponsible view has inflamed racism. Europeans simply don’t understand life in Africa. Not all Africans are dying; there are many who are doing well. Most refugees can’t wait to go back. Not because Europe is inhospitable, but because home is nice.”—Ben Okri, ODE May 2006

I am proud of my home. I will not let those images define who I am or what my home is. We must not be content with constantly being called or seen as the victim. We are victors. We are kings and queens. And Africa is our Kingdom.

If you simply equate Africa with bad roads and starving children then you’ve been merely watching too much CNN. And so I invite you to open your mind and journey through an Africa that you may not have seen. Prepare to have your breath taken away … by the many wonders that make us wonders. Visit Africa and enlighten yourself.

For a glimpse of what you’re missing, join the Facebook group, “The Africa they never show you.”

First published February 2009



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