LIFESTYLE: “ROOTS”: A Soul-journ to the Motherland

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By Erickka Sy Savane

I drank the African kool-aid early.

I must have been around ten years old when I sawRoots for the first time, but the effect on me… Kunta left me defenseless against anything that Africa was selling. In him I saw a warrior, a King.  And when he held his newborn daughter Kizzy up to the sky and said, “Behold the only thing greater than yourself,” I saw a father figure that I never had.

Years later, when I read the book in junior high, I’d stay up till the wee hours of the morning devouring those pages, dreaming about the Motherland, sometimes weeping like a baby, sometimes plotting ways to avenge Kunta, to make wrong right. I stopped eating pork, it was the least I could do. This from a girl who grew up in a family dominated by pig’s feet, hog maws, chitlins’ and skins with hot sauce.

It would take an all black college in Ohio before Africans would become real. My God, the first time I saw one in the flesh was surreal! His name was Badu, he was from Senegal and you couldn’t tell me that he wasn’t a Prince. If you saw him dressed in his royal African garb, skin the color of night, eyes as black as coal, walking as if the sky would collapse if it weren’t for him, you would know. He taught me my first real things about Africa. No he wasn’t a Prince (come on, you sure?) and his father didn’t have four wives. I also became friends with his two buddies. My girls and I would hang out with them just because they were so damn respectful! It was a welcome contrast to the guys we were used to seeing shooting dice outside of our dorm room, drinking 40’s, in an area called “The Breezeway.” And calling me “African lover.” I guess I was supposed to be pissed but it only strengthened my determination to be friends with whoever I wanted. It also made me more aware of what I had noticed to be a divide between African Americans and Africans. Well, that would never do. If they knew what I knew, that Africans were cool as hell, they might actually become friends and even learn something. And who didn’t want to know about Africa? So I organized a ‘buddy day’ where an African student would be paired with an African American student for a few hours to hang out and get to know each other. It was going to be wonderful! Or so I thought. Buddy day came and brought with it the reality that it wasn’t that deep for either side. It consisted of me and one girl from Cameroon who spent most of her time trying to cheer me up. “You tried,” she said a few times, and then, “I’d better go, I have homework.”

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