If you follow my musings, you know that Chris, my oldest child Felicia, my cousin Hansel, and his wife Martha and I made a trip to Africa over the past Christmas-New Year’s holiday. Although I’m not sure if I’ll visit the continent again, it’s important to me that I say I’ve made my first trip. Visiting the land of my ancestors was a spiritual experience for sure. I feel as though I was fed with all the good stuff that has come before me on the continent: the ancient empires, the kings and queens who ruled those empires, the genesis of all things that were introduced to the history of humankind.
Yes, now that I’ve had time to think about the trip, I feel that I’ve made a pilgrimage that needed to be made. It’s a pilgrimage that I wish every person of African descent throughout the diaspora could make. Many are currently making the trip, for a pilgrimage as we did, as well as repatriating. There are currently thousands of folks, not born in Africa, but with Africa born in them living and thriving in Ghana, West Africa. Over the last few years, the tiny country of The Gambia, West Africa has seen a sizeable increase in descendants of former slaves repatriating. The stories these folks tell have a common thread: I felt a longing to return to a place where I feel more at home; I feel less threaten by all the drama that’s been occurring on western shores; I feel a spiritual connection that has long been absent from my life’s experience; I want to defy the words that are written on the doors of slave castles/dungeons (The door of no return).
I wrote a blog back in June of 2018 about a trip to Spain and Morocco we had planned. We never made that trip due to an employee of the travel agency we booked with not performing her job well. The trip was planned around the time of Ramadan which made travel in that part of the world a bit more challenging than at other times. This was a trip Felicia had booked for herself, Cecily (my middle child), Chris and me. It would have been my first visit to the African continent. Although it wouldn’t have been to West Africa, from where my ancestors were kidnapped, it would have allowed me to set foot on the soil of my ancestral motherland.
This trip to Ghana was viscerally quite powerful. I certainly don’t intend to sound anti-anything, but it was an experience like none I’ve had before, seeing people who look like me all day, every day when you move about was strangely comforting. While reveling in the visual signs of connectivity to the continent, one thing quickly became obvious: I don’t have a cultural connection with the people of Africa. My sisters and brothers, who I’m related to from millennia gone by, could tell I’m from the west as soon as I opened my mouth. I would suspect they could tell I was a cultural misfit even before I spoke.
Racists are sometimes guilty of yelling obscenities to people of color while demanding that they go back to where they belong: Africa, China, or some other place that they know nothing about. I’m at a point in my life where some cerebrally dense individual demanding I go back to Africa is viewed as a welcomed suggestion. Africa is the one place on the globe that would probably be more welcoming of me than my country of birth, the good old United states of America. I must caution myself to not paint with a broad brush though. I honestly don’t believe the current attitude seen and read in the media exemplifies that of the majority of Americans. It would be refreshing if the silent majority (the good folks) would find a voice.
Africa is rising. The third millennium will be a time when development will move into high gear on this ancient, huge piece of real-estate. I pray that the dark side of geo-politics doesn’t prevail on my ancestral land.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.
Very profound insights can come from relatively simple experiences – and you have certainly touched some very deep parts of your identity. I am really, really happy for you that you were able to make this trip in spite of the unpleasant things that happened afterwards. It is a truly important event in your lives. be even more blessed!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I share your desire for the rise of the Silent Majority on many levels…and I do hope it is just that a majority.
It must have been a real battle of emotions when you got to Ghana and discovered that while you outwardly fit in beautifully, there was something missing inwardly (culturally). I am reminded of when a dear college friend of Japanese heritage (Sansei) accompanied her mother on a visit to Japan in the early 1970s. She reported how weird it felt to her that store clerks would immediately address her in English, before she’d even had a chance to speak, thereby cluing them in that she was American. She came back feeling that she didn’t belong in Japan any more than she felt she belonged in America. This profoundly saddened me, because of course, she was my friend and I had long ago failed to see her as Japanese but simply as Teri. When she made this comment, I was reminded that yes, she does look different that Dolly Madison or Jane Fonda, but she was every bit as American as I am. And as a child, I always wondered what it must feel like to be one of the only two black-skinned kids in our elementary school. Good grief, I thought I stuck out with my big nose, but what would it be like to have skin that was so obviously different? Life as the minority, in whatever features are being noted, is always difficult.
I honestly believe that much of the putrefying hatred and bigotry of Chauvinistic (pun intended) white people is based in the real fear that Caucasians will not hold the majority for much longer.
LikeLiked by 2 people
This was beautifully written and thought-provoking. It is wonderful that you were able to have this experience and turn it into a rich, meaningful like event. You articulate your thoughts amazingly well. It should be shared far and wide!
Thanks for the kind feedback. I’ve had a real challenge getting followers. I must be doing something wrong; however, I’ll keep hacking at it. This blogging thing is somewhat cathartic.