Ramadan 2013: We are ALL Africans

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Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim friends and family!

I find myself actively taking part in Ramadan 2013, with 14 days of fast. This is not a conscious decision; it is totally by coincidence. And it is not so easy, since I am surrounded by all the foods I like -fruits and vegetables- that I cannot touch until after the 14 days (my fast is coming with a twist). Moreover I am babysitting two little kids…whom I have to feed during the day…without touching or tasting their food.

But  I am glad it is happening, and I can share this special moment with my friends and family. Those who know me have had that, if I were to attach myself to any [dis]organized religions we are bombarded with in this world, I would be a muslim. I know you might be thrown off with surprise that I DO NOT subscribe to any religion. You are not the first; my family cannot believe it either! Nor my friends!

“How can you not have a religion?”

Well, it is possible, I often say

“So, you do not believe in God?,” the questions continue

“Well, maybe I do not believe in God as you think of him/her. But that does not mean I have no faith or belief system. My religion 

is humanity.

See, as I grew up, I made a conscious decision NOT to subscribe to any religious group, after my experiences with, especially Christianity and all its relatives. I grew up around three main religions – Protestant, Catholicism and Islam – within my family and among friends. My mother is of a double religion in a way – father’s immediate family is predominantly Catholic, although her father was Protestant. Apparently, her father grew up with a Protestant family, and went on to become a Protestant Reverend (Preacher). So  my mother and her family took after he daddy. Of course, within my own family are inter-religious marriages, bringing us a variety. As I grew up, I went in and out of the revivalist evangelist religions imported into Uganda from, especially North America – Baptist, Pentecostal, methodist, ….

Talking about friends, my best friend in elementary school was muslim. During Ramadan, she would invite myself and a couple of her other friends to break the day’s fast at her family home. I remember us feasting on rice (the origin of my LOVE for rice) with beef, fresh fruits and juices! It did not matter that we were not muslim, we were allowed to eat to our fill. Similarly, area mosques would feed anyone who came to eat at the mosque during the “break of the fast” every evening at seven O’clock.

That and other experiences have shaped my outlook on Islam. Plus, I was once engaged to be married to a Senegalese, and I lived and conducted graduate research in Senegal.

Senegalese are one of the best people the world has ever blessed us with, that I wonder if it is the African in them or the religion. In 2007, family and friends still eat together on one large plate, like we did as kids at my grandmother’s place. If one’s family brought him/her lunch food at work, they would park for more mouths to feed, and five or more of us would  eat together. Senegalese also have this level of contentment with who they are and what they have. I do not know if that is derived from or shapes their belief system? Perhaps that explains why they have NEVER changed political power through a military coup!

Now I have a moslem family, not only among my sister’s marriages, but my son’s grandparents who are practicing muslims. I respect that and I enjoy watching as they commune together, in food, worship and sharing. To me, Islam manifests itself as a communitarian bond not a religion, contrary to the Christian religions I grew up with. The way they were pushed to me was exclusionist, “if you do not believe in JC, you go to Hell.”

Why I am saying all this? Well, because as I was reflecting on Ramadan 2013, it appeared to me as the opportune tagline for “We are ‘ALL] Africans, the name of my blog. The communitarianism that comes with Ramadan, when we are all invited to feast and share in

the celebration is a key branding of the African spirit of Ubuntu or humaness. That we, Africans care and lookout for one another more than any other grouping in the world. Although I have strong reservations about that.

First, if human origin is in Africa, then all humans are Africans with the spirit of Ubuntu. Secondly, do we Africans really have a monopoly of Ubuntu, when we are branded the world over as the center of senseless killings, human sacrifice, wars, hunger, famine and mal-government? How is it possible for all that to exist with Ubuntu?

After spending about a month (May 21 to June 20) visiting Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen), I am inclined to say that, perhaps Scotts have a thing to teach Africans and the world about Ubuntu. They, like Senegalese are some of the most POSITIVE spirited people I have EVER encountered. and YES! they live almost their entire calendar year wearing sweaters because of the cold (similar to northern America and European), which is often an excuse for “why people are cold to one another”. But they are pure spirited, positive, kind and loving. They voluntarily offer to be good, to speak to strangers, to help out a stranger and to talk to one another. It was odd  (though shocking to “the American” in me) to hear my best friend, we had gone to visit, strike up a conversation the cab driver, even in a city like Edinburgh. In New York City, you sit in the cab, shut your mouth until you are paying to disembark. No conversation, no contact with the cab driver.

While plenty of restaurants are bars where kids are not allowed, once you find one, sitting is not allocated based on “color of your skin” -at least it appeared to me. If a seat is available, anyone will take it. We talk to one another at the bus stop, in a shopping or grocery store and on the streets. A stranger will waive down a taxi for you because he overheard you talking about finding one. The spirit of the Scotts is absolutely golden and beautiful that it makes me wonder, if our focus should not be on humanity in our midst, rather than subscribing to those religions whose home is NOT here…but in some imagined place! Perhaps the Scotts are the true Africans and home to our promised land – of free giving and Ubuntu!

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Life Always Gives Us What We Ask For —With a Few Twists and Turns

“Life Always Gives Us What We ask For…but with a few twists and turns..”

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My ex-boyfriend once told me. Do I need to say again, he is the only man I can confess to EVER have fallen in love with? Yes! it is important…..I think we loved each other, and were compatible with each other. We were just NOT meant for each other. And have since moved on!

So, I am back in America – The Land of the Free and the home of the brave! America the beautiful! I still feel free! I have been away in Uganda for the last three-and-a-half year. I also still feel it beautiful! The last time I flew into America from Norway (in 2011), it felt ugly, it smelled poverty!

Do not blame me; I was coming from Oslo, NORWAY! Do you know that Oslo was and still is the most expensive city in the world? A night out in Oslo would cost you $561.26 according to travel advisor http://www.indiatimes.com/lifestyle/travel/10-most-expensive-cities-in-the-world-83093-10.html#list_start And Norway is the second richest nation in the world, with GDP pa of $56,663 per person, according to the IMF http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/05/19/the-5-richest-countries-in-the-world.aspx.

Yet, my son and I still managed to have a fun-filled life in Oslo. Yes! We rode in the Mercedes  which run as city taxis in Oslo, did the city tour, ate Salmon, and drunk beer. And I could get allowed into a bar with my son! Phenomenon. Another interesting part about Oslo is that I could remember every beggar I saw on the streets each day. It was about one or two at the train station (“T”) downtown Oslo. Not too many!

ImageYet, when I flew back into the US back in 2011–the largest global economy…and the biggest global attraction…it smelled of poverty. I did not wanna be back. I wanted to run away as fast as possible, and I did. I ran to South Africa, with excitement, then to Uganda, my country of origin.

I have enjoyed my stay in Uganda. I went with my then soon-to-be two-year old son. We left behind his father…but it was a journey worthy of taking. It revealed and taught me a lot. I have wonderful moments, and of course challenges. I learned many lessons. I have fond memories of my stay in Uganda. I had the unconditional indefatigable support of my family. They took care of me…and my son. I could take care of my business – hash every Monday, run on Saturday and Sunday morning, go off to weekend hashes, reassured that my family will hold my back. And they so did. I, in turn supported them the best I could.

While it was not a honeymoon getting satisfactory paid employment, I finally did. The value of my commitment to professional networking came back to and I reaped favorably from it. I afforded vacations inside and outside Uganda because of my income in Uganda. I went to Kabale-Kisoro, Mbale, Bushenyi and Ssese for weekends of blissful running and silly moments. ran Mt. Kenya, Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon, Nairobi-Naivasha relay, and NHHH monday. My son and I went on vacation to Mombasa…and to Edinburgh and England on our way back into the US.  Image

But some people spend their entire lives to get into the United States, we had to get back. That’s the price paid for an international relationship. Child is growing, and needs school. What do you do? Soon you realize that you no longer have the luxury living your life, when you become a parent. You live for your child, unless of course you are self-centered or you regret having had kids. Yes! we have learned that about Alice Walker from her own daughter.

So, here we are again! Grateful for the opportunity to belong to two nations. Grateful for family, again, who are willing to lend a hand, even on this side of the “big pond”. The challenge would be to fit into the job market again. But that, we need to conquer. We should!

Children bring blessings

So did one of my friends say….and I am living exactly that!Image

Are we all “the marriage-type”?

Doreen-LwangaWhen you live in a “wedding country” like Uganda, you begin to wonder whether, contrary to your clueless head, you in fact did not know that you are a “bride in waiting”! Sometimes your cold feet drop, and you catch “cold fevers”. You worry if you are the only person who is going to stay single for the rest of your life. After all, even your single friends love to talk about marriage, attend weddings, date married men and believe that “to be a part of ‘normal’ society, you have to get married”.

In the past three days, the subject of marriage has hit me into discomfort, with the impending wedding of Prince David Kintu Wasajja, brother to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and last born child of the late Kabaka Muteesa II. I am a self-confessed, “I am not the marriage-type”! In fact, I hate weddings and do not do weddings –as a bride or guest-please do not invite me. I also believe that I cannot star as a cast or extra in a wedding film. I sort of have this fear that a wedding is the ultimate speedway to losing an intimate relationship.

And being among married couples in Uganda fortifies my belief. I wonder why they go to church or mosque, make vows of in sickness and health –you are the only one for me –then pile onto that relationship another two or three girl/boyfriends with barefaced shame! A married man with girlfriends or mistresses or “side dishes” as they are referred to here in Uganda seems socially sanctioned, as much as a single woman dating a married man. Barely any friends or relatives throw a fit over it, except when the “First Wives Club” folds its fist to move a law regulating Marriage & Divorce, through Uganda Parliament (but that is a story I will tell you soon).

I love commitment relationships though, till death doeth us apart. Though, I wonder if my self-confessed “I am not the marriage-type” stands in my way of a perfect commitment intimate relationship. I once read somewhere [not in the bible] that, whatever you confess or wish for yourself comes to haunt you and shape your life. But I often try not to think about it as an explanation to why I am still single in my adult life.

Then, why I am even bothered by the marriage of Prince Wasajja? No! I was not expecting him to ask for my hand in marriage. Matter of fact, I have never looked at him “twice”, with all the opportunities I have to see him every week. You see, we belong to the same running group – the Kampala Hash House Harriers (KH3), which meets every Monday at a different location in and around Kampala to run socially. I know some may cringe at the association of a Prince with The Hash. We are the self-ascribe Drinkers with a running problem, but who also go on to run 42 km in competitive marathons, 7 “hard knock” Hills of Kampala February, and Kampala-Jinja Relay every July. We do all competitive and charity runs around Kampala, some of which we have won. We just believe that beer is a better hydrant and energy boost for running than waterJ

Being in the middle of my “social group wedding”, since Prince Wasajja belongs to us -hashers, I have had the honor of being privy to all wedding preparations right from the first wedding back in December 2012, which some would like to conveniently refer to as “Introduction Ceremony” or “Traditional wedding”, when the bride Marion Nankya officially revealed her groom to her family. Plus, I am the communication guru for my running group, which puts me at the center of receiving and disseminating information about KH3 activities. I have had to communicate back and forth KH3 invitations to the many Bachelor parties and church wedding for Prince Wasajja. I have also gained access to plenty of “behind the scene gossip” on wedding preparations. Moreover, Rubaga Cathedral in my hometown is where Prince Wasajja gets married on Saturday, April 27, 2013. So, as I sneaked away at seven O’clock in the morning to go to work, I caught a glimpse of what looked like wedding preparations in the neighborhood. There, reality hit me real hard.

If a happy, jovial, carefree, meek and happy bachelor Prince Wasajja can bow to societal pressure to get married, do I need to conform to societal pressure and “make myself marriage material”, whatever that means? Should I throw away my favorite Tyler Perry DVD of Why did I get married and Glen Campbell’s A Case Against Marriage? Does this mean there is a Mr. Right for me and for all the Single girls out there? I went ahead and asked http://www.brainmeasures.com/calculator.aspx?calcid=76&catid=7 Are we all “the marriage-type”?

Starting off the Year with a BANG!

Perhaps there is no more endorsement of the need to do good than the current state of economic affairs in Uganda. The vibrancy of the 9th Uganda Parliament also adds to the justification to “do good”. After all, they put themselves out there to finally tackle the “war on corruption” in Uganda’s public sector. Far too long, politicians have colluded with private entities to rob the state of all its resources from big tracks of land, schools, medicines, to chalk and even seemingly unimportant things like bicycles! What do people who get free new 4WDs need bicycles for? Don’t ask me; you tell me?

In many of these incidents, the President of Uganda has been implicated either as an active authority or by directives issued from his office. Remember the order to pay Burundi an exorbitant amount of money, for aiding National Resistance Army (NRA) –NOT UGANDA- war ventures to capture power against the then ruling government of Uganda in 1986. Questions were asked, “Why should the Ugandan tax payer have to foot the bill of a private guerilla group?” not democratically constituted as a representative of the people of Uganda? But it is just mere questions, and for the most part, that is where it all ends in Uganda! Not enough? Even when the Burundi government forgave the NRA the interest accrued on the debt, Mr. Museveni is said to have reinstated the debt, arguably because, “Burundi is a poor country that should not be allowed to “debt-forgive” Uganda!” Surprised there? Well, this is the same president that gifts UGX300 to Rwanda education when Universal Primary Education in Uganda is stinking. Or perhaps he is reminding us that we should give, no matter how big our immediate problems, right?

Even more telling is the recently rumored impending talks between archenemies, Mr. Museveni and Mr. Besigye. The President and his arch-rival Besigye, are willing to give of their time to restore peace and trust in Uganda; yeah right! Perhaps the human has a larger heart than we give them credit for, uhm! So why not make this year a giving year.

In my immediate family, we started off this year with a BANG! In giving spirits. We collected all clothing and household items that we no longer use at home, and reached out to friends to join our “Giving to the People of Busabala” end of year donation drive. On Tuesday January 3, 2012, we delivered our donation to Busabala. It was a fabulous moment for us. The day, Tuesday, January 3, also happened to be my one-year anniversary of surviving getting killed by a matatu driver as I was jogging in the morning at 6:25a around Rubaga. What a beautiful way to celebrate my life! Of course, my son was with me, as we delivered our gifts to the people of Busabala!!

While the event organizing was wanting (the LC Chair had not informed everybody, plus there was a death and burial in the village that day), we were able to put on a show and left many people excited. With the help of the area Local Council, we delivered and distributed  shoes, clothes for women and children, beddings, table clothes and a few goodies for men. Men also collected clothes and shoes for their daughters and wives. I admit we did not have plenty for men, but they stayed around and shared in the fun. Interestingly though, boys partook in some of the clothing we had assumed was for women. That is the village for you; anything goes!  Another interesting incident is when a woman who had previously kept away from claiming her share of the clothing donation, supposedly because”she does not wear dead people’s clothes, turned around and began hustling with the others for a share! My brother, who runs a “soccer for education” academy for abandoned children and children off the streets brought his soccer team for a game with the Busabala team, which we (the visiting team) won 2:1. It was a funEx and added flavor. My brother also promised to follow up with future donations to the Busabala soccer team, including training, balls and jerseys.

It was such a wonderful opportunity joining my mother to give back, and give the people of Busabala. My mother has been doing this for over five years while I was not in Uganda, as a token of appreciation to the people who look out for her property while she is not on site. She is a giving person, and teaches us to continue giving.

So, let us spread the spirit and heart of giving. Let us give to those who are less fortunate. Let us give because it is a better way to spend that extra penny we would have spent on a beer, another iPad, airtime, at Javas at a pork joint or some unnecessary car accessory.

Because we are Wholesome Communitarians

What is that Holy Grail, PRINCIPLES!

Principles, like beauty are subject to the eyes and interpretation of its undresser. And obviously, we partake with varied expressions on our faces. So, when somebody recently responded to my request with, “I cannot do that as a matter of principle”, I was taken aback. Was this person implying that I had no principles, moralizing principles or telling me that we fall in different camps, regarding my request?

I am very sure that each one of us takes different approaches in our life engagements. There are certain things we welcome wholly, while cringing at others. But do we do so “as a matter of principle” or are we moralizing our actions while immoralizing the actions of those who do not believe in what we do? If you asked me to drive after I have had a drink and I choose to abstain from driving, am I doing this “as a matter of principle” or because it is morally right? Or I am protecting my life and the life of the would-be passenger? Is a doctor, who has sworn the professional code to save life terminates a life to save another, is s/he acting without principle? How about a lawyer defending high profile capital offense, whose professional oath is to pursue truth and justice through the courts of law?

What is that “holy grail principles”, anyway? You see, I started graduate school in Boston in the fall 2003, following the US government attack on Iraq. I had left my home in Atlanta, Georgia, where we paraded the streets with placards saying, “No war on Iraq!”, “Make Love Not War!”, “War is not the answer!”, against those with “Support our Troops”, “Protect our Borders”. Georgia also happens to lie within the Bible belt and (neo)conservative region of the American South.

On the contrary, my graduate school is located within that elite belt of colleges and universities in Boston, with all pomp of hosting the “intellectual liberal” population of students and professors. It is at these campuses that you will find the “anti-war lot” including the Quakers, the Mennonites, the Hippies, the humanists and the humanitarians.  So, I sort of found my lot amidst these, as we talked about how wrong Bush’s post 9/11 foreign policy of pre-emptive attack had become and was more likely to bring danger than security to America!

Yet, I found out quickly that my class also had those who believed in “we’ll smoke them out”, including those who had just dropped bombs on Iraq, as service men and women in the US military. Quickly, I found out that there was a larger group among us who believed in “The Role of Force (in International Politics)” and in fact, an oversubscribed graduate class dedicated to the topic. Enrolment for the class included the “usual suspects” –those who had dropped bombs on Iraq, as well as others whom in my thinking, “cared for humanity” and were also enrolled in my Humanitarian Assistance class! But who said they did not care for humanity? Did I have a monopoly on humanitarianism?

Since then, I have learned that different people adopt different strategies in their search for understanding and knowledge, and to participate in making this world a better place. My grad school of “liberals” was in many ways also a neo-con school, whose prestigious security studies program, won it many contracts from the US Department of Defense. I quickly learned to peek at “what those ‘crazy’  security studies people were doing”, by participating in some of their activities. I became a regular participant in the Security Studies Lunch Hour Seminars, not only for the opportunity to eat “real food” –a three course meal with proper table setting of a flower vase, cutlery, napkins and glass! Oh!  How I loved the Security Studies Lunches! You know, “real food” is extraterrestrial in the life of a US grad student.

While I kept my mouth close to my plate, I also kept my ears wide open and listen to career diplomats, security studies scholars, US military officers, defense contractors and soldiers serving in several of US military engagements. I gained entrance into “the mind of war markers or planners”, as well as the tools to confront them in negotiating humanitarian access during war.

As controversial as that might sound, I find myself, six years post-graduation utilizing those skills I gained interacting (not confronting) security studies majors in my graduate school, but to forge a livelihood for civilians caught up in over a decade of protracted conflict in Somalia. With an open mind, I am now sitting at the same table with my formerly sworn “archenemies” –the military- to mobilize support for Somali civilians under the care of the Uganda Contingent to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). I have allowed myself to learn that AMISOM is not only bombing the shit out of Somalia, but also lending their humanitarian hand, sharing their health facilities in Mogadishu to treat the sick, malnourished and wounded Somalis. My mission is to use every opportunity of on-the ground knowledge, access, and easy transportation of donations we collect to save lives in Somalia. And I am doing this, “as a matter of principle”:)

What if you find someone who believes in your dream, but not as fast as you want to move it?

I am going through the moments. I celebrate the fact that I found somebody not hard to convince to believe in my dream. In fact, so readily, was the offer to carry my dream along. Perhaps there is a professional investment there, but this person is also humanitarian.

But that is one-and-a-half weeks ago, when I thought my dream was gonna fade away into “just another dream”. My dream co-catcher is a very credible face and profile on the “who is who” of Kampala, and the entire Uganda. Can bring in contacts both local and foreign, and has a profile of humanitarian work in the servicing of Uganda, as well as medical treatment of urban and rural Ugandans, emergency situations, dire need and where there is absence of public medical services.

The problem I am experience now is fitting into the schedule. OK, let’s cut the chase. It’s a HE! He’s a very busy man with many hats and locations –politician, humanitarian, doctor, father, husband, guardian and writer. All those he has to fulfill, alongside trying to fit in mine. He was so enthusiastic when I broke my idea to him. In fact, he did not wait for me to ask, if he would partner with me. (I actually my plan was not to ask him “if he could” but instead “how he carries out his”), Readily, he offered to give a face to my dream of launching a fundraising initiative among Ugandans.

Now, I am beginning to wonder whether he is ready to move my dream as fast as I want it? True, we met the day after he agreed to dream with me just after I thought I had hit a stalemate, when my first potential donor said –I needed “street cred” that I thought I had! To my amazement and excitement, he jumped onto my idea and when we met the next day, I found him in the company of four other potential volunteers to see through this initiative.

I had all the paperwork already drafted out that I had emailed him to look at and give feedback. Alas! He had not read it. But it was not hard for me to explain to him what the idea was, my progress thus far, and the “to do list”. The six of us brainstormed on how to proceed, the people we need to meet, the permissions we need to secure, and the activities that would work to boost this fundraising initiative.  So, I went back home and continued with my homework, of amending the initial documents I had drafted for our initial partner to reflect our new partner. Two days of no power cut at home threw us back to nothing done. Although, there are things we could do without the documents, like, meeting some people with expertise on the kind of activities we wanted to do.

I did my part and met up with two of such people who have both worked in Somalia but also donated aid to the Uganda –AMISOM contingent, and therefore know the terrain and the nature of relationships we need to build. The challenge right now is, we cannot proceed with official fundraising, until he approves the fundraising letter, we agree on MoA and terms of operations and secure those initial donors that we need. All this need his face, but most importantly, need his approve of the guiding documents for this activity –the fundraising package is ready…but waiting for his big-self to make it happen. Mr. DREAM MAKER, PLEASE TURN MY DREAM WHEELS ROLLING!

UGANDA’s Humanitarian Hand to Somalia

I have the good fortune of being both a dreamer, and an awake dreamer. That way, I make my dreams come true! And it seems the trend is gonna continue on this one.

Now I am getting my hands soiled by invading the pockets of Ugandans to donate toward Somali Famine Relief

I always dream of helping people and surprising them. I have been able to do a lot of that. I surprise myself too. This year might have started out on a good path for me. Was it because I met James Long, from UCSD, who have me a temp job with a big fat check? I spent a lot of my check on building my momma’s house. It is not yet complete but we’re still gonna do it. That is my giving out.

Then, I celebrated my momma’s 2011 birthday by raising money in just three days, UGX240,000 from a few individuals toward Sanyu Babies Home, the oldest children’s home in Uganda. We delivered amidst media coverage.

In July, I put out a fundraiser via paypal in celebration of my little baby’s turning three years toward uNight: For Children of Uganda,  and Kigwanya ECD: For Young Women and Teen Mothers of Uganda. That was close to UGX1,000,000. Great job Doreen!

Now, I am embarking Uganda Aids Somali Famine Relief. Those who say, Ugandans do not give to strangers because they give to many relatives and family are surely mistaken.

1. Have they forgotten that the spirit of giving and sharing is a key defining characteristic of Ugandans the world over?

2. Have they forgotten that we are our nation’s keepers? We have kept the peace in Sudan, DR, Congo and now Somalia?

3. Have they forgotten that Uganda People Defense Forces are one of ONLY two AU member states in Somalia, and in fact the lead force?

4. Have they forgotten how much Ugandans spend in bars, grocery stores, restaurants, you name it…that are not only owned by Ugandans but even foreigners.

Surely, we can make it happen, and we are gonna make it happen. And now that we have AMISOM endorsement, let the mind games begin. We are putting all limbs, open brains, eyes, ears and guts into this…Whooha!

We are Africans! Let Ubuntu Shine

It is true that I keep a blog already, where I write about each and everything personal and private. However, I have always wanted to start a professional blog; where I can share some of work accomplished, and work in progress. I also wanted to create a blog that has wider and diverse audience, not limited to my intimate friends. So, welcome to my public blog!

I am an African! And We are Africans! Since human origin started in Africa, each one of us in an African in many ways. For me the concept resonates even more, in the spirit of Thabo Mbeki’s I am An African poem, whom I respect dearly. Yet my experience living in different African countries and living with different Africans strengthens my commitment to Africa and PanAfricanism. I am also connected to the African in the Diaspora, not only through the culture we share but personally through parenting, as a mother of a child born out of a union with the continental-born African and the Diaspora African.

We as Africans pride ourselves as the emblems of Ubuntu, that spirit of communitarianism and the cradle of  humanity. The question is, can we still uphold that? Are we committed to remaining our neighbor’s keeper? Will I scratch your back? And will you scratch mine, back too? This is my call to attention for all of us, as we embark on a journey of upholding the glory of Africa, the prestige of Africans, the spirit of PanAfricanism and the commitment to our humanity.

Let us share with one another, reach out to one another and look out for one another. The boundaries that demarcate our geographical space in present day African states are as elusive and porous as the flow of water. If lakes can run through and connect across these boundaries, why not us? Of course we do this, our cultures are located across these fixtures, and many of us living in border communities have families across, and do cross very often non-stop. Let us not stop to light the neighbor’s fire, to share in our produce, to keep our watchful eye on the neighbor’s household and to embrace the spirit of giving. Because WE ARE AFRICANS!