A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the Mega bus coming back to Chicago when the person sitting next to me and I struck up a conversation. It all started when he asked if I would ever go back to my native country after learning where I was from.
I’m not sure how other Diaspora feel about that question, but personally, I find it astonishing that it is even a question. In my mind, that sentence translates to, “Would you ever go back to your home?” What human being doesn’t long to be in a place they call home? The word ‘Home’ means more than shelter. It gives a sense of belonging–it’s a place where we flourish, a place we identify ourselves with. The fact that Africa is home doesn’t and shouldn’t diminish that same sentiment.
I assume that people with the same mindset as him come from the logic that Africa is the “dark” continent,a place filled with famine, war, poverty and hopelessness. After all, some of these reasons are what bring millions of people from all over the world to America, home of the brave, land of the free- while this may be true for some, it still doesn’t change the love and connection we have for our motherland. Yes, some of our homes have been destroyed for one reason or another, but does this change the sentiment you hold towards your home? Is it no longer a place you find serenity in? a place which you’ve made countless memories in with your loved ones? Do you have tainted thoughts of this house you’ve turned into a home over years with rituals, love, joy and family? The conflicts, upsets, and challenges don’t erase the resilience, heritage and deep appreciation for life that we carry with us not in spite of her but because of her. We carry these sentiments about home with us no matter where we migrate to.
This gentleman was not the first to ask that question, nor will he be the last, I’m sure. For every person that has and is yet to ask this question, I want to give some food for thought from an immigrant’s perspective. When asked why I want to go back to Rwanda, I think about my father and the many women and men that did and continue to sacrifice their lives for me, for their families, for their people, for Rwanda. It would be a slap in the face to their legacy and vision for a better place to call home if I never strived to further and honor their efforts for a better us, a better country and better continent. We not only go back to our native countries because it is home, we go back in pursuit of a better life for ourselves and our continent.
We go back because we’ve been empowered with education and experiences that have broadened our perspective on the world so that we can apply it to the Africa we want to see. We go back because we’ve seen enough of our mothers and fathers working grave shifts just to make ends meet and never having a moment to look up and enjoy the fruits of their labour. We go back because we want our children to know the same sentiments we do about where they come from. We go back because of never feeling that we fully belong, no matter how long we spend in these lands of refuge. We go back because we want to build something we can be proud to call our own. We go back because the feeling of living in exile surpasses any hardships of living in a third world country to which we belong.
And to every Diaspora with the same point of view; keep fighting, keep reading, keep creating, keep writing, keep filming, keep rhyming, keep capturing, and keep doing what you’re doing to acquire that vision. And in doing so, stay focused on she because Mama Africa needs us to be our best selves for her legacy.