Take Me Back: Returning to the Homeland

I cannot wait to go to Africa.

A topic my mother and I often discuss is the different places that we would like to see around the world. My mother is fairly well-travelled, and has always told me that out of all of the countries and cities that she has ever been to, Egypt was, by far, her most cherished experience. While she has always wanted to travel more into the heart of Africa — and has yet to do so — her description of the moment she exited the plane as her foot touched the floor is nothing short of moving:

“As soon as I stepped off of the plane in Cairo, tears started to pour down my face. All of these years later, and I still have never been able to explain what I felt in that moment… I was home.”

This is a feeling that I believe every African American should experience at some point in their lives. Being that our ancestors were forcefully taken away from our homelands hundreds of years ago, forced into centuries of slavery and followed by decades of institutionalized racism and oppression, we, as a people, grasp onto the few ties that remain. Like thousands of others I am sure, my family has never known what African country we derive from, for some individual abruptly decided that preserving such information was not necessary. I do not know where we come from. Every morning when I wake up, I wish that I did; that I still had that connection. When my peers start to converse about their Nigerian traditions, family back home in Kenya, or the long history of their family homes and stories of migrating here, I feel without identity. All I can contribute is the tales of how my ancestors were slaves; My ancestors whose origins were not recorded, whose children were taken away from them, whose wrists were chained and whose backs were whipped, whose records of sale are still kept in my mother’s file cabinet.

We cling to our past, because we are still reminded of it with every day that passes. Whether it be by the exponentially growing numbers of innocent black men killed every day falling victims of police brutality, or from being the only black person striving for excellence and higher education in a high school graduating class of 2016, the marks of slavery are still embedded into our society.

This is the society that has distanced the African American race from the power of our African roots. It is up to Generation Y, and all who follow, to revive and restrengthen the bond between African Americans and our African brothers and sisters. In Rose Morgan, Desideria Mwegelo, and Laura Turner’s article, Black Women in the African Diaspora Seeking Their Cultural Heritage Through Studying Abroad, they bring attention to all of the benefits that traveling to and/or studying abroad in Africa has to offer our youth. It is up to us to seize the opportunities that lay out in front of us in; It is up to us to expand our mind, our experiences, our cultural heritage; it is up to us to heal the ties that have been severed against our will. It is up to us. I am ready… Are you?