With President Obama concluding his African trip and more importantly his trip to Kenya, I am left with a feeling of pride and a great lesson for all of us.
Knowing his story and having read his biography ‘Dreams of my Father’ I am repeatedly reminded over and over again; As a person and an individual, you can never make progress unless you learn to love, appreciate and embrace all the things that make you, you.
I believe had Obama never made the pilgrimage to Kenya as a young man, had he not gotten in touch with his Kenyan roots, had he not had pride for his ancestry then he wouldn’t be the man he is today, he wouldn’t be a great leader and he most definitely wouldn’t be the most powerful man in the world.
Yet as people and individuals we do this on a daily basis. We deny a part of ourselves; we are embarrassed by some bits and pieces of ourselves and for that reason we are never whole and therefore have nothing to offer since we are not complete.
I am personally confronted by these battles everyday, being an immigrant myself and interacting with many immigrants. I have interacted with those who are proud of their roots, but I have also interacted with those who wish they could just wish away a certain part of them. There are those who will act like they can’t speak their ethnic languages or eat the foods they grew up on because they are ashamed to have that part of them. I have met those who completely ignore communicating with people back home maybe because they lost a part of themselves in the transition of moving from one country to another.
Which leads me to ‘What I love about being an African in the South’. The reason I say ”What I love” is off course I don’t love everything about it. Its the SOUTH!!! Which means the vast majority of its inhabitants are closed minded individuals.
But the number one thing I love is the fact that living in the South has helped me shatter stereotypes of Africans to the few individuals I have come into contact with.
Many people have this idea or image of what an African should look like, someone once told me they thought all Africans were extremely dark skinned with orange eyes. And I was happy to be able to enlighten him, just like any other part of the world, we have different shades of black in Africa,
I have also come into contact with a lot of individuals who tell me I speak English very well, and am happy to explain to them.Just like the US some African countries were also colonized by the English.
I am proud of the fact that we were brought up on organic foods and we cook a hot meal everyday. And I explain it to anyone who is willing to listen that the reason we don’t have obese people in Africa, is because we prepare our own meals and only eat out once in a while as a treat.
I feel I have contributed to animal activism in a way, someone was once showing me his priced possession that was made out of ivory. And I explained to him why its not good to buy Ivory, what they do the the elephants and how the animals numbers are reducing due to poaching.
I love that I have improved my knowledge too, I also had stereotypes of Americans. I had no knowledge of North and South, East Coast and West Coast. I have also increased my overall experiences in life. I look at it this way, life is too short to spend it all living in one place. Living here has opened me up to all the possibilities that exist if you are willing and ready to take that leap of faith.
So just like Obama has taught us anything is possible; where a young man can leave his home, travel to the other side of the world for an education, leave a single mother to raise a mixed child in the 60’s and have him end up being the President of the USA, I am also contributing in my OWN small way leaving a foot print on this earth (so to speak). I feel like I am on a mission trip and spreading the good word, ‘That Africans are people just like any other people, we are a hotbed of vibrancy, diversity and multi culture.
I always tell people here, ”you need to visit Africa, because there is no party like an African Party”