The Eve of Departure

This time tomorrow I will be aboard a plane headed to Tanzania. I can hardly believe this dream of visiting Africa, a dream that children of my generation held close, is coming to fruition.

I grew up in the sixties and seventies surrounded by all things powerful and positive about Blackness. I sang James Brown’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” in the backyard of my grandparents home from the shade of the three sided tool shed. Along with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, we sang James Weldon Johnson’s Lift Every Voice and Sing, a song that was considered the Negro National Anthem. It was also the time of Marcus Garvey and a call for Blacks to return to the Motherland.

I dreamed of Africa. I dreamed of what it would be like to visit countries where the predominant color of people’s skin was brown. Often on the heels of these thoughts was the thought of whether or not there would be people who resembled me. In time, the dream faded, placed on a shelf with other childhood memories.

When I became a parent, the idea of Africa resurfaced. I recall the day clearly. I’d taken my daughter to interview at a Montessori Preschool. One of the first things she saw was a globe. “Where is Africa Mommy?” As I turned the globe, I named the continents for her, finally settling on Africa. This one action brought back the long forgotten idea of visiting a land where my predecessors hailed from.

Now, years later, my quest is beginning. I am off to the first Under The Same Sun sponsored Pan Africa Albinism Conference, held in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania. Not only will I travel to the land of my ancestors, I will gather with people like myself, people with albinism, all committed to making a difference in our communities. For days I have been emotional. Tears spring from my eyes when I think of how God and the Universe have presented me with this opportunity.

This journey is so much bigger than my desire to visit a continent. This is about giving to others. This is about finding joy in learning. This is about rediscovering myself. I am honored and grateful for the change that has occurred in my life, for with change comes growth. The ultimate teaching for me thus far: always remember the dreams of childhood. In time they can come true.