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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