Magazine article New African

To the Beautiful One Not Yet Born: As I Prepare to Welcome My Firstborn, a Son, into the World in the Coming Days, I Can't Help but Wonder What the Africa of His Lifetime Will Be like, What Africa Will Mean to Him, and What Contributions He Will Make to the Future of Our Beloved Continent

Magazine article New African

To the Beautiful One Not Yet Born: As I Prepare to Welcome My Firstborn, a Son, into the World in the Coming Days, I Can't Help but Wonder What the Africa of His Lifetime Will Be like, What Africa Will Mean to Him, and What Contributions He Will Make to the Future of Our Beloved Continent

Article excerpt

Dear Beautiful One Not Yet Born, when I was much younger I used to stare at the map of Africa and wonder how I would ever make my way to a home that seemed so distant. Not so for you. From your earliest days Africa's soils will be underneath your feet. You will grow up accustomed to the endless array of this great continent's sights, sounds, and smells. For you, Africa will become real through your own eyes. May you be blessed with a heart and mind that allows you to see far beyond your own horizon.

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1 wonder what you'll say the first time the humid air of Accra embraces your face and the gentle waters of the Indian Ocean wash over your toes in Mombasa, when you look down from a plane's window and see the confluence of the White and Blue Nile in Khartoum, will you be inspired to travel further along their banks to seek their sources in the highlands of Ethiopia and the Great Lakes Region? May gazing upon Egypt's Pyramid of Giza, Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts and libraries, and Great Zimbabwe's stonewalls fortify you in the knowledge of your past so that you are prepared to meet the challenges of the present and future.

May the sounds and lyrics of Ali Farka Toure, Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Oumou Sangare, Um Kalthum, Youssou N'dour, Mohammed Wardi, and Cesaria Evora enliven you to your rich cultural and sonic heritage.

Let Africa's great writers - Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Tayeb Salih, Peter Abrahams, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nawal El Saadawi, Jack Mapanje, Mariama Ba, Chinua Achebe, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Ousmane Sembene, Camara Laye, Ayi Kwei Armah, Manthia Diawara, and Nuruddin Farah among them - continually remind you that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Will Africa's great artists - visionary pioneers and young innovators alike - such as Ibrahim El-Salahi, Wangechi Mutu, Berni Searl, Ernest Mancoba, Ingy Aflaton, Yinka Shonibare, Rachid Koraichi, Uche Okeke, Hassan Musa, and Julie Mehretu enrich your vision and inspire you to look beneath the surface of every canvas and image to find its hidden meanings?

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When you walk through the slave dungeons of Cape Coast and Elmina, will capitalism's crimes commit you to a lifetime of justice? May you always seek the truth even when it is hard to find or unpleasant and painful to tell.

When you leave the pristine shores of Cape Town on the ferry to Robben Island, only to encounter one of the world's greatest examples of man's inhumanity to man, instead of bitterness may you be fired up by the will of a people who refused to succumb to it. Always remember that Nelson Mandela's humanity was forged through struggle. Life's greatest challenges will mould you into a man ... embrace them with humility and courage.

When you pay homage to Sankara's gravesite on the edges of Ouagadougou, how will you make sense of his assassination knowing that the man who masterminded it is still in power? I hope you'll always keep a copy of Thomas Sankara Speaks close to hand. …

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