Do You Dance?

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Do You Dance?

In my imagination, I sometimes speak to Tindeyba Agwaba, Zahara Jolie –Pitt and David Banda I launch at them these blunt sentences: “Do you miss home? Do you miss the sunsets? Do you miss anything at all? Do you have any memories? and most of all, “Do you dance?” I imagine that all the answers to these questions are no. Strong resounding no’s.

I have nothing against inter-racial celebrity adoption. I believe that parents can sometimes choose their children. What I always wonder is the motive behind some of these high profile adoptions. I always wonder the impact this has on the image of Africa in particular. I wonder what life is like for the children who have been ‘rescued’ and seemingly been given a better life. Are they happy? Do they long for the lands where they came from? Are they happy with their new identity? Do they totally leave everything behind?

I am a firm believer that there is no Third World or First World. There is only One world. Regardless of our differences, and the milestones different nations still have to overcome, we are all human beings. We share the same concerns, anxieties, hopes and dreams. When hurt, we will all bleed.

For many years, Africa has been perceived as a monolithic entity, a single country. There are many who still, at the mention of Africa, envision poverty, death and despair. There are many who still do not know that the continent has nations and cultures as diverse as the people themselves. Yes, there may be many losses and so much lack in the continent. Yet still, there is so much wealth in every nation. As put in the phenomenal Coke advertisement, “There are a billion reasons to celebrate about Africa.”

Madonna , on the adoption of the Malawian boy David Banda is quoted saying,” After learning that there were over one million orphans in Malawi, it was my wish to open up our home and help one child escape an extreme life of hardship, poverty and in many cases death as well as expand our family.”

I cannot deny that that poverty is a part of our reality. But that is just a single story. A dangerous single story. There are those who are making the most of their livelihood and strengthening their economy. They may be little, but somehow, people find a way to share the little they have. Even when there is hardship, our greatest victory will be overcoming that hardship. Somehow, we find a way to survive.

Sometimes, our wealth is not just measured in the things that we can touch or quantify. We may not have advanced technology or fast-paced lifestyles or the greatest luxuries that money can afford. There is great wealth also in heritage, in identity, in finding great pride in your culture, with your people. There is a wealth that cannot be touched and measured by human hands. There are things that nothing can take away from you. There is an inherent wealth that will always be a part of you, regardless of where you go.

I wonder if adopting African Children and taking them far away into a land of seeming opportunities is good for the nations in Africa or for the celebrities themselves. Is it not important for Africans to be able to raise their own children? If there are a million is need, will that one taken away come back to alleviate that suffering?

Do these children who leave home long for where they came from? Do they view themselves as different? Do their hearts long to do something for those they left behind? I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had been whisked away from my circumstances. Maybe, I would have grown up with so much privilege. Maybe it wouldn’t matter that there were others in dire need. Perhaps, I would have earned sympathy. Perhaps, I would be looked at with contempt. Maybe, I could have become a crusader for ‘suffering Africans’ who are badly in need of help. Perhaps, I would not be concerned and simply lie back in indifference. I will never know.

I am grateful that I have been raised as I have. I have witnessed shifting circumstances. I have inherited so much from my heritage as an African child. This is home. This is where my navel strings are buried. David Omowale, a great writer says, “Home will take care of us if we take care of home’. Life comes with different rhythms. When they are sad and slow. We dance. When they are fast-paced. We dance. We dance. When others try to spoil the music. We dance. When the world can’t hear us. We still dance.