Jan 31 2007

A Present from Africa (Part 2)

Category: Uncategorized<ADMINNICENAME> @ 10:38 AM

In this past Sunday’s San Franicsco Chronicle, I published a review of a new book, “Lose Your Mother,” 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. Campbell’s magnificent “Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005,” 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 wife’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 “in residence” at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, I spent a good deal of time with Uganda’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 Bush’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 – in order to eat less and get in touch with my own “motherland,” for indeed Africa is mother to us all.

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