While we are in the full swing of Black History Month, I want to share my most recent experiences. I recently returned from Morocco on the beautiful continent of Africa. Although, not intentionally considering the time frame, I do not think that it was by accident that I was able to make this trek during the month of February. This was my first time, but it certainly will not be my last. Outside of giving birth to my son, this has been one of the most profound experiences for me. I see my life through a clearer, more aware lens. I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of who I am and where I come from culturally and biologically. This experience lends to the catalyst of a mindset shift. One that dispels anxiety, fear, and worry. I no longer want to live in a space that takes away from who I am.
My African culture represents strength and rootedness. I want to take up space, something that my ancestors were not able to do once captured into slavery. I encourage you all to return to lands and spaces that increase your awareness of who/what you are rooted in. For me, that place is Africa. Here are a few reasons to visit the Motherland:
1. If you’re able to voluntarily return to the land where your ancestors were brutally and involuntarily taken from, you owe that. Decades ago, your great great great grandparents were forced to leave their homes, the only land they knew to face treacherous traveling conditions and even worse daily living conditions into a life we know today as slavery. During the slave trade, Africans were stripped of their identity, their names, their religion, their families. Essentially, they were told who they would no longer be and who they had to be moving forward. If you are afforded the opportunity to return to the land where your ancestors unwillingly sacrificed themselves for the likes of white Americans, do it! What greater gift can you give yourself and your children to pour into them the energy of our forefathers who more closely mirror our identities than our white counterparts?
2. Immersing yourself in the culture that’s rightfully yours and exploring what was stripped away from you. This is a huge one. Over generations since the slave trade, after the abrupt transition from free African to enslaved “nigga”, our ancestors were gradually removed from their cultural. They were taught that their religion was “wrong” and they were given “acceptable” European names. The languages were forgotten and although some of the traditions live on such as braids and eclectic styles, the enslaved had to develop new traditions to help them survive including “negro spirituals” that sent other slaves hidden messages and the adaptation of the Christianity religion and the English language. Being able to become aware of a “lost” culture, a culture that you are rooted in, is a gift. It should be considered a time to get to know yourself on a deeper level. Returning “Home” to Mother Africa may prove to be the most profound experience in your mental health journey. It may open your eyes to some of the experiences of your ancestors. Hopefully, you can become more aware of who you are biologically and culturally. Humbly returning to the Motherland may help you place things in your life into perspective, it may encourage you to show more gratitude, and it may add to your sense of belongingness.
3. The food. I once ate red meat and chicken. I am currently a pescatarian, gradually moving to become a vegetarian. The reason for this carnivorous transition was to live a healthier lifestyle, to use my food as natural medicine. Eating cleaner also pours back into my mental and emotional stability and clarity. I have found that since visiting Africa, forgoing meat seems a lot more feasible. The food just tastes different here. The food is so fragrant and so vibrantly colored in presentation. The ingredients are natural and are locally harvested. That naturally tells me that most, if not all foods in the Motherland are free from preservatives, pesticides, steroids, and any other unnatural chemicals used to beef up (pun intended) our food or make it last longer in America. Treating your body like the temple it is, cultivating this lifestyle of using natural and fresh medicine also known as food, to heal the body and to treat ailments, is an amazing gift from Mother Nature. I discovered this in Africa. The Motherland showed me that Mother Africa is a representation of how God (whomever that may be for you) intended for things to be. Give back to yourself physically and mentally by accepting the gift of the land and what it has reaped for you in Africa.
If any of you have traveled to Africa, I would love to hear about your experiences and any recommendations on what countries to visit next.