Ruvarashe Nyamupangedengu’s Matric essay expresses her deep affection for her African heritage. She cherishes her Zimbabwean roots but celebrates that all of Africa is her home. She reflects on the recent xenophobic violence with sadness but hopes that we can “recover the humanity” that we lost and remember that in Africa, we are all brothers and sisters.
She is the proud owner of 30, 37 million km2 of land. She is a mother to over 1,216 billion people. Over 2,600 species of birds watch over her and over 1,100 species of mammals roam around her grounds protecting her. She is adorned by diamonds and gold, which she birthed from her soil. She is home to natural wonders such as the mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro and the record-breaking Nile River. Her core burns with an inextinguishable fire and her will cannot be broken. Challengers always come out second best. Some call her Africa. I call her home.
Today, I look up to the ageless sun as it greets the day with a spectacular, picturesque display of yellows, oranges and pinks. Its kisses are soft on my melanin-enriched skin and it illuminates my cloudy mane. The rivers run with a soft murmur as they breathe life into the marula trees that are at rest on its bank and the baby ostriches break out into their morning song as they await their breakfast. My attention is drawn to the streets where children are preparing for their morning sessions of Diketo and Umugusha (children’s games) – a sight that will never tire me. I walk back into the house where I am greeted by the wafting aroma of fresh, peanut-butter-mielie-pap porridge.
I find myself smiling as my childhood memories come flooding into my mind. I remember coming from my homeland, Zimbabwe, to South Africa and I could not speak a word of English. Despite that, I still felt at home. My heart was at ease. That is the beauty of this place. No matter where you go, you will always be at home. No matter where you are, you will always have a family. This is Africa.
This is Africa: Where our hearts beat to the sound of the Djembe (drum) and our feet tap to the rhythm of the marimba. This is Africa: Where our greetings consist of “sawubona Ma,” “Hello tannie!” and “Howzit Sister.” This is Africa: where vibrancy is the universal language and our clothing is almost as colourful as our personalities. This is my Africa. This is my home.
However, it is not always sunny here. I was welcomed warmly when our family migrated but this is unfortunately not the common narrative. Sadly, we tend to forget our humanity and turn on each other. We sever our ties, chasing away our brothers and sisters who are simply looking for refuge. We treat them like weeds and rip them out of the very soil that birthed us all. We turn a blind eye to the problems of others thinking that the man-made boundaries that separate our countries also separate our souls. We forget the Ubuntu and that is at the core of who we are – the Ubuntu that sets us apart. My heart aches. My heart aches because this is not the Africa that I know.
It would be so easy for me to lose hope or disown my continent but that is not who we are. We have been knocked down many times before, but we picked ourselves back up every single time. We are Africa. We must pick ourselves up again because we were born from an inextinguishable fire and an unwavering will. We are Africa.
We must recover the humanity that once set us apart and from the ashes we must rise. We are Africa and with tomorrow’s sunrise will come a tabula rasa – a clean slate. We must re-establish our ties and welcome our brothers and sisters no matter the circumstances because that is who we are. That is the Africa I dream of – the Africa that is my home.