A lot of Africans in the diaspora, scattered across the globe, seem to share one thing in common: the older we get, the more we want to go back home (or so it seems to be for those in my circle).
(Either on regular visits or to live there permanently) and hopefully make a difference using the experiences, skill set and abilities we’ve garnered.
We all seem to share a deep connection to and love for the Motherland.
The more I speak with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I realize that it doesn’t even matter the country you are originally from OR the country in Africa you choose to visit, the one common denominator seems to be that very single visit back home creates new profound insights about the beautiful culture, history and hope of our people.
Often, we are assailed with the images of poverty, corruption, vile practices and infrastructural decay. These images, though sometimes true and painful, often mask the creative strides in the arts, business, science and sports and budding seeds of hope shared by a new generation of African youth, at home and in the diaspora.
This is the time to start telling complete empowering stories of solutions about ourselves; the good, the ugly and the utterly beautiful! No one can tell our stories better than we can. To paraphrase Ghandi and Dr Martin Luther King, ‘We are the change and the future we are waiting for!’
I guess there comes a time when the finger-pointing, blaming, feeble excuses, complaining, justifying STOPS and we finally take responsibility for our sh*t and begin to talk and walk the solutions we desire.
We all created this mess and together (‘leaders’ and the led), and perhaps if we begin afresh, with consistent commitment, and focus on one idea, one project, one action step at a time, we may also clean up our mess and possibly create the society of our dreams, rather than settle for our current nightmare.
#PostcardsFromAfrica is a collection of images, stories and poetry about my experiences and the experiences of others who share this vision of a new Africa with me. It is a celebration of the new Africa of our dreams, regardless of her many dire challenges. I’ll kick things off with Lessons learned from my travels to Botswana, Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal…
Next year, we’ll add many more countries to the list. One of my gifts to myself on my 40th birthday earlier in the year was to visit 40 countries and share my insights, inspirations and lessons learned 🙂
I was recently invited to Maun, Botswana as both a participant and workshop facilitator at the Maun International Arts Festival, founded by the wonderful team of PoetAvango Spoken Word Poetry (More about this wonderful organization in subsequent posts).
During one of our visits to the villages in the community, some of us got a chance to engage with the women who shared their dance, food, and even showed us a practical, simple yet powerful act of weaving a basket.
As I sat quietly beside this beautiful woman who crafted her basket with such attention to detail, skill, passion and joy, I was gifted with fresh insights and learnings.
#1. I learned that Africa does not need AIDs (no pun intended), rather she needs Fair Trade and different Fora where her citizens will get a chance to sell their goods, share their talents/gifts/arts/resources in an exchange laced with sustainability, justice, dignity, value and respect;
#2. I learned that when we are present and focus on the exchange of value and learning at hand, the noise of the outside world disappears and magically, the act of ‘weaving a basket’ becomes more than that. It becomes a sacred quiet ceremony where silence is revered, and a wise older soul passes on sublime messages of wisdom about the lost art of paying attention, patience, being calm, being present and crafts(wo)manship, to the restless spirit of the young;
#3. I learned that the simplest things give the most joy and that sometimes we have to disconnect to really connect, we have to unplug from technology to plug in and tap into the collective consciousness of our shared humanity. We can all do more together and the right time to take action is always right NOW;
#4. I learned that it is good to give someone fish, it is better yet to teach him/her how to fish and sometimes, it is necessary to integrate both and give him/her fish while you do the teaching. We must not only think of creative ways to solve our problems, we must also acknowledge and respect where we are on the developmental cycle;
#5. I learned that although each of us can make a difference individually, collaboration is the key to unlocking our capabilities and harnessing our strengths and weaknesses to a greater and more impactful outcome;
#6. I learned that until we build up and serve the underserved communities among us, all our efforts at change, development and growth may be grandiose exercises in futility. We have the power to weave the tapestry of our future and we must do it organically, from the bottom up, applying one solid stroke and act of service and adapting global best practices to suit our local needs;
#7. I learned that there is great power in creating cultural exchanges, not only between the world and Africa but also within Africa, amongst her many different countries. After my trip, I sent pictures to a friend of mine who runs private schools in Lagos, Nigeria and we talked about having students go on cultural exchange visits to other African countries/schools in addition to their existing Disney trips to Florida and Paris!
We even exchanged ideas about possibly having schools in high-brow areas in each city also visit other schools in slums or underserved areas of the same city. For example, in Lagos, students from schools in Lekki Peninsula, Victoria Island, Ikoyi to visit and perhaps undertake projects collaboratively with students in Ajegunle, Mushin, Okokomaiko etc.
There is a huge dis-connect all over Africa, between the small percentage who control the vast wealth and the bigger fraction who make up the ‘working poor’ and/or live in abject poverty. The re-establishment of a strong, sustainable and vibrant middle class will make a big difference. P.S: I’ll keep you updated as our ideas on the students’ exchange program come to life 🙂
Have an idea or comment to share? Please, you’re welcome to join the conversation on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/wholewomannetwork
Cyber-hugs and Warmest Regards,
Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, MBA (www.julietkego.com)
Poet | International Speaker | Consultant | Master-Certified Leadership Trainer -Coach|
Raising a new Generation of Transformational and Creative African Leaders
~Take empowered ACTION towards a Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier YOU!~
The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Co-Founder and Executive Director of Whole Woman Network. Juliet is the author of the upcoming books: “UN-Locking Your HeArt of Leadership” and “Today, I Will Not Bow”. A self-described Life-Connoisseur, who loves life and the whole human experience, Juliet was nicknamed a ‘reminderist’, [one who reminds us of that which we already know; that we are not fractured or broken and NOW is the perfect time to replace that fallacy with a new, beautiful truth: we are worthy, complete, whole and our life journey is to return to wholeness]! Her message is simply: “To use the power of written-spoken-sung WORDS to connect, heal, empower, change and transform our inner and outer worlds. Words have power in the meaning and interpretation we choose to give them and all of life is synchronistic poetry in motion! Are you telling empowering stories about yourself and others?”
She is a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Leadership, Investment & Financial Literacy for women and youth (especially girls). Her mission is simply to engage, educate and empower women, regardless of their levels of income or background, to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives using Faith-based, Scientific and Universal (Common-Sense) principles! Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc. Enjoy some of her portfolio of poems on her Floetry Blog and follow her daily reflective posts on Facebook.
Postcards From Africa is a WWN Feature about creating a new, positive narrative of Africa by Africans. This is a movement about igniting an empowered citizenry to make a difference by bridging the integrity gap. It is about changing the status quo of waiting passively for ‘leaders.’ WE are the leaders we seek. We are committed to raising and/or celebrating a new generation of Transformational, Passionate and Creative African leaders, one idea, one person, one project and one community at a time! Do you know anyone or cause that should be featured? We’d love to hear from you: email@example.com
Thank you for this. I love the idea of actively participating. I was just wondering how you are driving this in Nigeria. I keep wanting to be more involved but never get round to doing so. I need a push in the right direction
Thanks for your comment and interest in getting involved! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on participating in Nigeria…