Going home . . . .

DAKAR, Senegal _ If you are a black man or woman in America, chances are that you’ve imagined that first moment and what feels like the second you touch African soil.

I’ve had people to tell me that they knelt and kissed the ground. I’ve had others tell me that they wept. My experience was different, though I’m sure shared by others.

As I set foot in Africa for the first time, I thought immediately of my grandfather and his grandfather, whose father was a slave named Bailum. I haven’t discovered and may never known from which country Bailum was shipped to North Carolina to eventually wind up in the bend of the Tar River. But I do know this: Senegal is the closest African country to America. It holds one of three major departure sites for thousands of slaves who were forced onto ships and taken to America to become farm animals and construction equipment.

Now gone for 10 years, my grandfather would have found great wonder and felt great pride in my return to Africa. You see, whether we pay attention or not, whether we honor it or not, whether we ache for it or not, we are part of The Lost. We are the descendants of those who were stolen.

And this week, they welcomed some of us home.

Moreover, in a series of seminars and discussions, some leaders hope to make clear that, now more than ever, Africans must forge better ties with each other and with their American cousins as officials mount campaigns to do everything from develop a greater, more structured role for the Diaspora in African politics and geo-economics – to create the United States of Africa.

I am here in Dakar as part of a delegation traveling under the sponsorship of the United Nations, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Conference of Black Mayors. We are learning about the African Renaissance, learning about our relationships to those whose ancestors watched ours go. We are finding ways to help ensure that the African story is not lost even so many in America try to diminish the African-American story. Continue Reading