An Open Letter to the African Child

Dear African child,

On the one hand, I know you down to the most intimate of details.  You see, I have a few of you whom I’ve carried in my own womb.  I’ve fed you, cared for you when you were sick, worried when you were worried, cheered you on from the sidelines, comforted you, held you in my arms, taught you about God and loved you with my whole heart.  I’ve helped you with your homework, helped you plan for your future and dreamed the biggest dreams for you.  I’ve taught you to work hard, pray hard and play hard.

On the other hand, I know I haven’t done enough.  I’ve tried you know?  But I’ve also failed more than I’ve succeeded.  To you, the child I never held, I’m sorry.  My arms are open wide; but I can’t seem to reach you from where I stand.  To you son, who I haven’t given the opportunity to dream because you were too sad or lonely while your other parents abandoned you; I am so remorseful.  I want to be your “real” mother, after all mothering is an action, not a definition of bloodlines. I want to show you that your future is full of possibilities and hope.

To you my daughter, whom I never talked to… you know that talk I’ve wanted to have where I tell you how much you mean to me and to the world, that talk where you learn that you can be anything, say anything and do anything regardless of what those lying men in your culture tell you.  My dearest daughter, you are indeed worth everything to your Creator and to me.  I have always wanted to sit down with a cup of Red Bush tea and tell you how much the world needs your special skills, talents and abilities, that we are depending on your beautiful hands to build a new nation and a new world full of love and compassion… that only your hands and others like them can do it.  I want you to know that anyone who tells you that you should be held back, that you are worthless, that you are only put here to please men, that you are worth less than your male counterparts… well, the truth is, they are lying out of fear of what you might become: empowered to fulfill your destiny.

Every one of you, my dear children are valuable to me and to all of us.  You are the ones who can do better with our resources.  You are the ones who can show your elders what they were capable of doing.  You are precious to me and I will find you, one by one, and show you.

I might not get to hug you or kiss you or look you in the eyes.  But please know, that you are mine and you are treasured.  Know that I think of you, I pray for you and I love you deeply.

Know too, that I will work today and tomorrow to ensure that you know you mean as much to me as do those who I carried for 9 months and raised with my own hands.

(your) Mama Afrika


PS: To those children who are already living in the homes of my brothers and sisters who are treating you so lovingly, supporting you so well and teaching you to nurture your dreams… please find your siblings, lift them up and care for them as well as your mothers across the continent care for you. Every gesture matters and each of you can do little things to make your parents so proud.

One thought on “An Open Letter to the African Child

  1. Dear Mama,

    Of course, I read this as I always try to read all of your insightful and intelligent articles. This time I cannot truly comment beyond the first sentence because the words this letter deserves are beyond me. I am at a loss to express exactly how deeply moved I am in reading it.

    Kathleen Ivory

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