Africa is a big continent. People talk about it like it’s one country, one place. It’s actually made up of 54 countries that are unique in their own ways. Today, though, I’m talking about it as one place, and I’m here to say, “Africa’s not sad, y’all.”
I live in Southern Africa, and I’ve traveled to Northern and Eastern Africa. I still need to step foot in the Western and Central regions, but I don’t need to go there to know that my declaration is spot on.
Sure you see poverty…just like you see everywhere else. You see hopelessness…just like you see everywhere else. You see hunger…just like you see everywhere else.
But you know what else you see that media doesn’t always accurately portray?
Strength, hope, resiliency, industriousness, beauty, love, kindness, resourcefulness, honestly, I could go on and on.
It lies in the land and lives within the hearts of the people.
I recently returned from Kenya, a place I can’t get enough of, because the people are some of the nicest folk I’ve ever met. While there, I went to the dump in Nakuru. It was my second time visiting the place where trash, people, and Marabou storks coexist. It was also my second time seeing Lucy, but the first time I was struck by the strength of this 55 year old widowed mother of 5 and grandmother of 11. She corralled the troops to get their rations of tea, lard, sugar, green grams, and rice and then led us in a time of celebration. In the middle of trash, we sang and danced with grateful hearts.
After the celebrating, she brought us into her home, and shared her secret of how she lives a life of freedom in the midst of what many would call hopelessness. The secret lies in something that we can all have, but something we must choose to walk in. The secret is forgiveness. I had never heard truer words, because you see, forgiveness produces freedom whereas, the only fruit you get from unforgiveness is bitterness and anger.
Lucy may not have monetary wealth, but she is rich. She’s learned the art of not letting her circumstances define her but rather choosing to define how she will react to what life has dealt her.
I’ve met many Lucy’s throughout my journeys in this big land called Africa, and that’s why I will never label Africa as sad, because it simply isn’t. It’s beautiful, and the deepest beauty lies in the hearts of a people who have chosen to walk in freedom.