I met her during one of my visits to the local library in Lartebiokorshie. I was a young lad of 11 years and she was of an age unknown. She was the strangest woman I had ever met. She was young yet old, beautiful yet her skin had deep scars marking it. I sat beside her and took a book to read. She slapped it out of my hands and said “My son you have no respect for the elderly? Can’t you greet me?” I was taken aback by her abrupt actions. I still could not tell her age. “Follow me” she demanded and led me to the big nim tree in the middle of the compound.
“Let me tell you about myself, I can see that I attract and repel you at the same time. Yet you are my son. Why the look of surprise? I am your mother! I am an old woman yet a young lass trying to make it. I used to be richest woman among my siblings. I am still rich but most of my riches are hidden. Some have been stolen by my siblings and others are yet undiscovered.
You see these scars? They were caused by the infighting of my kids and the countless rape by my siblings.
You can say I became a woman in the lush valleys around the Nile (the longest river in the world). I birthed Egypt and Kush (Nubians): two great kingdoms. There was the usual squabble among siblings. ‘The relationship between Egypt and Kush was a complex one, which changed depending on the political and economic climate of the time.’ Oh and I forgot to tell you that those I refer to as siblings are actually my children. I birthed them in the East (Eastern Africa) far before I gave birth to Egypt. People populated other continents by moving either through the Sahara or the Nile Valley. My children were successful and became great because they learnt how to take advantage of the annual flooding of the Nile. The Nile was my breast milk, I feed them with it. They got their nourishment and transportation from me. I was the plentiful source of their well-being.
I taught them how to use papyrus, how to use them in recording events. They built lovely pyramids. I had other great children (Kingdoms) such as Ghana, Mali, Yoruba, Benin, Kingdom of Kongo. One of my sons that I take great pride in is Mansa Musa.
But then the raping began and my kids were stolen from me. The children of my siblings came in long boats to ruin me. They came with religion, fire, and deceit. My children were taken to work in their industries as labour, as animals, as property. They worked the sugar plantations in the Americas. Some of them sold their brothers to the invaders but I am not here under this tree to tell you everything about my past. I want to tell you about my present, my future. I want to tell you about why you see me the way you do.
I fought off the shackles that my sisters placed on me. I made education a priority in order to compete in this modern era. I remembered the days of old, how when the floods of the Nile receded we used the silt on our farms and how we irrigated our land using the waters that we harvested from the floods. I improved my agricultural ways, I borrowed from my sisters who I have long forgiven, I won’t say I am there yet but hunger has reduced significantly. My children have started returning home. They return back to me with their knowledge and expertise to further my development, to make me more beautiful. They look at the scars and remember my hardships, in remembering the past they work harder. Their efforts are honorable attempts to somehow make up for all the hurt I have been through. They feel my pain. They love and appreciate me. My children are coming back home.
My children are learning about democracy, the people are learning to rule themselves. There have been recent uprisings in some of the states where the citizens fought the military so that they will be governed by the officials that the people elected into office.
My sisters divided my children. Created countries as disadvantageous fragmentation. The Organization of African Unity and Regional groups such as EAC, East African Cooperation, and Ecowas have been formed to unite dispersed offspring. Trade has increased among them and has gradually grown relatively easier. Most of the nations are landlocked and therefore trade with their siblings on the coast is necessary. The regional integration is a step in the right direction; this promotes trade among siblings with more just trade conditions.
I used to be desired, well-rounded, the dream of every man. I used to be healthy. I lost all of that at the hands of greed and envy from my sisters. But for the past few years, I’ve been working my way back up to glory. Past plagues are diminishing, infant mortality and maternal deaths have seen a decrease. But now a new menace has my children in its grips; the tragedy of HIV and AIDS. AIDS is taking the lives of the young generations that I birthed, so I weep for my children. I cry for them. I feel their pain, for their struggles and hurt are my pain.
Did I tell you about the Library of Alexandria? Or the University of Sankore? Those were places that people came from all over to learn in ages gone. I was the fountain of knowledge, and it was stripped from me. But I am slowly regaining that commitment to knowledge. Greater emphasis is being placed on teaching and educating the ones to whom the future belongs.
The same applies to trade, external trade used to make me rich. I now suffer because of external trade, the terms and conditions are not good and set up for my failure but what can a defenseless woman do? What is there left for me to do? They have exhausted me. I lack energy. They have attempted to deplete me completely but then I remember that my sons are working hard. Daughters are reaping the benefits of their dedication. Industries are being built and privatization is on the rise…”
This is what she said to me as I sit and listening in awe and utter amazement. I was a kid then. 18 years down the line and most of the dictators have been overthrown. Remember Libya? Egypt? Sierra Leone? The first successful handover of power in Ghana? A common currency is being planned for the West African countries; the common currency will be initially introduced in the member countries of the West African Monetary Zone. This is to replace the CFA and make trade among ECOWAS countries easier. Her history has been troubled by pain is on the horizon for our mother.
Agriculture has been on the ascendancy. Education is the top most priority in every nation. Africa has made great strides to catch up with the other continents, the sisters who stole, exploited, and raped her. We might not be there yet but we will be. We will reclaim her glory. We will help her restore her beauty, she will radiate once again. No matter where we go we will always remember our roots. Our heart is with the motherland. Our passion lies in the depths of her soil. Her children are coming back home. Mama, we’re coming back home.