Why Every Black Woman Should Visit the Motherland
It pains me when Black Americans proclaim their disinterest in visiting Africa. So often, we subconsciously feed into the stereotypes, negative media and misrepresentation of the continent from which we originate; while missing out on the richest (and second largest) stretch of land on the planet.
Our parents may not have been born in an African country, but that shouldn’t make us any less interested in or connected to our roots. If anything, it should make us want to visit and discover even more! I've been to the continent twice, with my third trip coming up next month. As a Black woman — especially one with no direct ancestors from Africa — I feel it is vital to visit the Motherland several times in my life. I wish the same for every Black woman, and here’s why:
From the moment I landed in Tanzania on my first trip to Africa, I had an overwhelming sense of belonging. Everyone around me looked like me. I was no longer a "minority." I was a part of the larger community that happened to be Black, and it was a good thing. Traveling with white volunteers (a separate story for another time), it became apparent that I was “one of them” and the others in the group were not. People in the street were shouting “dada” which means sister in Swahili. “You are home, Sista” they would say. In America, this “Queen” notion has taken off; but in the Motherland, this is exactly what we are and were always meant to be. I was appreciated, held on a pedestal and treated like the queen I know I am — by both men and women. This experience promoted so much self-love, self-confidence, and pride; and it's something every Black woman should experience in her life.
Being born and raised in America as a Black woman with very little knowledge of my roots and ancestry, I often wondered why my family did things the way they did, or why we were the way we were. So many questions had gone unexplained and answered with, “It’s just the way it is.” Having to explain to white girls at sleepovers why we wrap our hair at night and only wash our hair one time per week is just one of many examples that left me feeling like “our” way was the wrong way and out of the norm. I was always acutely aware that we were "different" for eating what we ate and operating the way we do.
Visiting Africa helped me to understand and reinforce that certain things are just part of our DNA, our African DNA. Our ancestors stretch beyond those who arrived in America by boat; and have a thriving culture with customs, logical reasons and ways of doing things that don’t have to be explained to anyone. Whether it was my house mama washing the floors obsessively or the house cooks seasoning the mess out of our dinner — it all felt normal and right, something I had never felt growing up in America.
From the culture, to the fashion, to the music and vibrancy — there is something in each country in Africa that will inspire you and give you a greater perspective. Whether it’s the fabrics of the clothing, the head wraps or jewelry, or the beautiful cities, beaches, mountains and landscape. As a Black woman there is so much creativity to be soaked in by visiting Africa. Not only have I departed each time feeling more creative; I've also felt even more inspired to connect with other Black women, to empower each other and unite as a greater force.
I strongly encourage every Black woman to visit Africa at least once. And yes, Morocco, Egypt and Cape Town, are beautiful — but I urge you to venture beyond even those destinations. Explore the West, the East or go even further South. Words cannot explain the feeling you will experience or what you will gain from it. You have to feel it for yourself and truly let it infiltrate your soul, body and mind.