Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chasing The Dream: En Route to Africa Part I

Preparing self for the biggest journey of the year.
Africa desires weren't dreams potted and planted overnight. Seeds took time to be fruited within.
Childhood illusions fostered American happily ever after with hetero normative married life, white picket fences, and kitty cats. The masquerade had been a misconceived brainwashed efforts of majority. Pillars of realized destinies came after reading books-- eye opening books that gave deeper comprehension. Looking past embellished history to look at the real horrendous picture. Ancestors were stolen, robbed of their beautiful living. They made this country without receiving a lick of credit. And that story has been glossed over to the point of obscurity.
Some of us will never have fiery desire to visit Africa. Allegorical return is something whispered from past life to spirited soul. That ancestor singing its melodic hymn, walks alongside, unable to speak visible communication. That ignited inkling longs to be scratched.
I want to view ancestral place. I want to make art there. I want to write there.
Last month, I had received the most incredible news. Out of 200 proposals, I was selected to present "Metaphoric Idiosyncrasies: A Fable in the Vine," my paper/PowerPoint (from grad school), at Black Portraiture [s] lll: Reinventions: Strains of Histories and Cultures in Johannesburg, South Africa.
First, I told my thesis reader.  He was happy (proud too!). My mom-- not so much.
“Do you have to go?” She asked, before the “Africa is a dangerous place” spiel.
No congratulations. No praise. Just don't go to that ugly, horrific continent.
Philadelphia is a lot more dangerous. Heck, the United States in general has become a major terror, especially for marginalized people.
Is it so wrong to visit for a few days and possibly inspire change in someone's life? To write a few words? To draw a few pictures whilst in the land?
My heart says no.
I wrote out a GoFundMe twice. I would post and then immediately delete. Guilt was powerful. Shame more so. It's easier to help others than ask others to help you. I kept telling myself that I didn't need anything from anyone. I'm independent. I can do this alone. Most of my life, I've overcome many challenges-- both external and internal-- alone. Often without a word.
My third GoFundMe became an unexpected yet very sweet success.
Thanks to substantial help received from school friends, generous associates, and hometown buddies, my airfare/accommodation are paid in full.
It's really, really happening! I'm going to Africa!
My plane adventure starts in New York City's JFK airport to Charles de Gaulle in Paris (with long layover to have great vegan French cuisine and see Eiffel Tower again). From Paris, it's off to O R Tambo Airport in Johannesburg! I'll be staying at Protea Hotel Parktonian All Suite which offers airport shuttle and is a thirteen minute walk from University of Witswatersrand. I am excited to meet Deborah Willis (who was just nominated for an Emmy) and a host of others. My goal is to not only speak with authority and enthusiasm for my writing and art, but to also build relationships with the other invited artists, scholars, and activists. Afterwards, I will explore the land for three whole days. Then, finally, my next plane adventure begins in the Netherlands and ends in New York City.
I am so ready for this. 


  1. wow, how wonderful! I am so happy for you. I hope you will share whatever parts of your experience you feel comfortable sharing publicy. For my own reasons - quite different than yours - I have also long wanted to go to Africa. My grandparents were in Ghana with the Peace Corps when I was born and they loved it so much. I grew up with Ghanaian beads and fabrics and stories and books. And later in life, my three most profound and important teachers have all three been African! My yoga teacher is Ghanaian, and my two painting teachers are from S. Africa. What an honor and accomplishment for you to have your proposal accepted!! Congratulations!! May your experience be profound, meaningful, surprising and inspiring.

    1. Thank you Amey!!!! I wish I could hug you over the net! Your sweetness means the world to me. I will share as much as I can once I go. Ghana is a future dream of mine as well. I do hope you get to spend time there. (Ugh! a little jealous of your S. Africa painting teachers ;) Thank you again. I appreciate your words and aide! <3

  2. That's wonderful. We've never met, but I am so happy for you as well. How exicting!

    1. Thank you Lisa! I appreciate your kindness! I'm over the moon ecstatic! :)