Falling In Love With My Africa

As the world ends its celebration of the month of love, we relive the moment we realized when we fell in love with ?our Africa?. ?Many of us have had a love affair with who we are at our core, but for me, the event was only as recent as a few years ago. Growing up in the United States, I always tried to blend in; from trying to adopt my baptismal name to constantly emphasizing the fact that?I wasn?t born in Africa, my parents were. I realized that there was very little known about Africa and Africans in general, save what was held as public opinion; I really didn?t want to be associated with the negative, albeit misguided perceptions. ?It was easier to be accepted and to field off the questions if I remained silent and didn?t give away any signs of my identity.

I was a year into my tenure in Southern Africa when it happened. I can?t place my finger on the exact moment it happened, or on what triggered it. All of sudden I realized that I wanted to learn more about who I was and even more about the continent that made me. Maybe it was the way that I was warmly embraced by people around me or how comforted I felt by the familiar quirks and habits that oddly reminded me of who I was, thousands of miles away from a foreign land that I had grown to call home all my life.

My Africa is not only beautiful, but it is full of life. It may be largely misunderstood, but I continue to enjoy the reactions I get from people who genuinely wish to know the Africa that?I?know. I love how I am able identify a musician as soon as I hear a beat or how I can cook up a traditional meal that probably rivals the best known around.

I have fallen in love with?my Africa?and I don?t see this love going away. I certainly have my moments, and I continue to hope that some things improve and get better, but I also hope to give back to it as much as I continue to receive.

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