~ African Mami ~
July 16, 2012
African Mami is a woman of pride and spirit. She has an energy that transcends the digital realm and lives in the heart, and reminds us that love is an abundance, a kindness, and the birthright of all life on earth. We recently connected to speak of Afrika, the center of the world. It is her home, just as it is ours. Here she shares with us her insights and her love to be enjoyed by all.
Tell us about the spirit of Afrika. I understand it as a continent of many tribes, many nations, many histories. Is there a uniting force that underlies the Afrikan spirit—one the transcends such boundaries, and if there is, how would you describe it and it’s importance to the people of this planet?
African Mami: Yes. Personally, I think our uniting force is our resilient spirit. This spirit I speak of, hovers around us like a graying cloud pregnant with showers of blessings ready to burst forth! It has been with us as a continent since time immemorial and has guided us through the pre and post colonization era. I think the most powerful way I can describe it is by providing actual instances of it at work.
In most African countries, our streets are littered with hawkers. These are folks that do not have official premises in which to conduct their business. Thus, due to limited economic circumstances they are forced to hoard their wares, be it second hand clothes, pens and pencils on the streets. By and large, our governments are not proactive in creating economic opportunities for all, hence the mentioned scenario. The most marginalized among us, with their limited education and finances have instead gone on to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, for their sustenance, despite glaring challenges. By default and through hard work, they are integrated into the economic systems as part of the fuel running the economic systems. This is all attributed to the spirit of resilience. Although the example I gave is simplistic in nature, it speaks to the current realities. Ain’t that neat?
I can’t close this question, without mentioning two notable figures that have for me, embodied this spirit and inspired many others. The late Prof.Wangari Maathai a renowned environmentalist, educator, and political activist achieved a lot of firsts. Most notably, she was the first Eastern African woman to receive her PHD and the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace” (Source: Wikipedia). The late Prof. had to jump a lot of hurdles in order to reach a point where she not only impacted the continent with her works, but also the world. Her political activism in Kenya in the early 90s saw her not only fighting for a multiparty democracy, but also lobbying for women’s rights at a time when women were to be “seen not heard”! Her brainchild, the greenbelt movement, contains detailed and pertinent information about who she was and what she stood for Indeed a spirit of resilience! Rest in peace.
Nelson Mandela, fondly referred to as Madiba is a renowned political activist that impacted the continent and the world, with his resilience and courage to fight for what he believed in-freedom! He was incarcerated for 27 years, during the apartheid era and basically was the sacrificial lamb of the South African people. Woah! What a legacy.
The importance of this spirit to planet earth is clearly seen in the illustrations provided—togetherness. This spirit calls for an adoption of collectivism as opposed to individualism. Make a mark in somebody else’s life other than your own, one life changed is enough!
Tell us about the nature of family in Afrika. What does it mean to you to be a daughter of your people?
It is both an honor and humbling privilege to be a daughter of my people, especially here in the Diaspora. Afrika is not only the cradle of civilization, but also the motherland. This means that she is the mother of all humanity. When you think about it, in personal terms, a mother gives life to a baby, so in the same respect, Africa has made me who I am today, and for that I am thankful for her generosity and sacrifices. Love my mamaland!!
Tell us about what it means to be an Afrikan in America. What is it like repping the motherland here? What do you think people find most uplifting in connecting with you? Does being Afrikan affect how you relate to Americans, and if yes, in what way(s)?
To be an Afrikan in America, for me, African Mami—meant initially having to deal with a lot of ignorant BS, but now, coming to terms with it, and making my peace. Whereas before, I was on defense mode, 24/7- 365, trying to dispel myths and stereotypes, I am now at a place where I am able to tolerate it and sometimes, if I’m in the mood, care to explain that I do not have a pet giraffe (wtf?!) .Also, I would like to add, that I am particularly aware of the privileges bestowed upon me as an Afrikan here versus in the motherland, and for that I am grateful. Don’t get it twisted though, if you cut me, my blood would bleed and read A.F.R.I.K.A. all day erryday!
Representing the motherland in the Diaspora is great! Since the Western media does a fantabulous job of painting a picture of a war tone people, all skin and bones, dying from Aids/drought, living in huts to symbolize poverty -which by the way I am VERY proud of, especially the ones made out of cow dung!! Ooooooweee!! I misssss home a lil come to think of it. It’s part of our culture. I have chosen to go the opposite route of, being extremely positive even in the face of stark realities-by counteracting with facts.
Hmmm…..I mostly connect with folks through humor and if I say so myself, I’m a splendid ball of craziness! I don’t know whether they feel uplifted though the jury is still out. We’d have to ask them that, my dear chimes and lilies beauty!! My everyday relations with Americans are fine, now when it comes to politics as they relate to Africa, we are as parallel as two diagonal lines—often times than not!