In this past Sundayâ€™s San Franicsco Chronicle, I published a review of a new book, â€œLose Your Mother,â€ a mediation on roots and identity by an African American writer of great skill and perception. The book is cut from the cloth of the narratives analyzed in James T. Campbellâ€™s magnificent “Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005,â€ published last year and sure to win some major prize this year. While I look forward to another visit next month to sub-Saharan Africa, I am temporarily preoccupied with Africans coming to America. My wifeâ€™s own daughter, who arrived 12 days ago, from Togo, started public school Tuesday, and this past weekend I hosted an important Cameroonian journalist at my house. On Sunday night, he addressed a network of professional Cameroonians living in the bay area and my friend reported to them on some positive developments in this West African country. Last week, which I spent â€œin residenceâ€ at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, I spent a good deal of time with Ugandaâ€™s leading political journalist, Andrew Mwenda. So I have been immersed in African reactions to America. Both the Cameroonian and Uganda journalists quizzed me about the quagmire in Iraq, President Bushâ€™s apparent insanity and the eating habits of Americans. The only question from these Africans I could satisfactorily answer involved eating and our diets. Our American food consumption seems downright hazardous by African standards, and both journalists noticed my own expanding girth. I told them I need a good long stretch in Africa â€“ in order to eat less and get in touch with my own â€œmotherland,â€ for indeed Africa is mother to us all.
Jan 31 2007
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