If you want to find me.
Come to Africa.
Flights may be expensive ― much more expensive than my life in America. My life in America is deemed cheap. Yes, I am a black man, a big African man. Menacing to some – an eternal suspect too many. Yes, my life is cheap in America. So are my sons and my daughters.
I had to get out. We had to get out
I have yet to sit in the back of a police car in Africa; not in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Gambia, Nigeria or Namibia. Not once have I had to say, “Hands up don’t shoot,” – in Africa. Dogs have yet to enter my car, looking for “drugs,” as was a frequent occurrence in America. Things are far from perfect in Africa, with 54 countries and varying cultures, traditions, languages, and countless challenges. However, I am not seen as a constant threat in Africa. Maybe my idealism, leads me to believe that even if I am not a “citizen” in Africa, I can still be a human; where I can chart my own destiny without the color of my skin being an impediment to my progress. This is my experience my destiny. Yes there are some who board rickety boats with a hope to leave Africa and chart their course of life elsewhere; but not me. My future is intrinsically tied to this continent where I have found liberation. I have been liberated from the shackles of being a Black man, an African man, in America.
I had to leave a country that does not understand my pain, my promise, and my potential. March they say. Protest they say. Vote they say – if you want to see change in America, you have to be that change. Not me ― I am tired of the illusion of equality, an illusion of color blindness, an artifice of democracy, a delusion of justice, and an illusion of freedom. Struggles I can handle, Struggle I embrace – but I had grown tired of struggling in America for the most basic of rights; most specifically, the right to not always be viewed as a threat, or a suspect, by a system that was and is, in constant fear of my blackness.
Some say, but you have a Black President in America – and “Change We Can Believe In.” However, I opted to put my trust in many Black Presidents. I have Geingob, Kenyatta, Mugabe, Zuma, Jammeh, Thabane, Sirleaf, Mahama and more. We also have Kings and Prime Ministers, who may not be perfect, and some better than others. But I will take my chances. The Change I can believe in – is right here, in Africa.
I have yet to be called a nigger or a nigga in Africa; except by say, a few hip hop kids who have listened to one to many rap albums. I have yet to be treated with suspicion because of the color of my skin in Africa. I have yet to be a statistic in Africa, compared to hundreds of thousands of black men locked up in a prison industrial complex in America. In these prison industrial complexes, where I worked – I found young and old, black, brown and white, languishing without hope, without a chance for redemption.
Civil war, crime, violence, disease, and corruption they say – is what is found in Africa. Have they visited, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C, or my hometown of Cleveland, where there, and in most cities and small towns; it’s easier to get a gun than it is to get healthcare. Where violence and lawlessness has created an environment where even a 12 year old boy can’t play outside without getting shot by a cop; or where a young girl can’t walk to school without being shot by rival gangs with poor aim; or where a young man can’t walk with a hoodie, without being deemed a suspect; and murdered by a hooligan vigilante?
If you want to find me - come to Africa.
#SayMyName Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Phillip White, Tony Robinson, Jerame Reid, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Tanisha Anderson, Dante Parker, Ezell Ford, Michael Brown Jr., Trayvon Martin, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Amaadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, Manuel Loggins Jr, Ronald Madison. Kendra James, Sean Bell, Alton Sterling, Christian Taylor, Ramarley Graham, Philando Castile, Terence Crutcher.
I have not forgotten the struggles of my people, friends, family, and ancestors in America.
If you want to find me ― come to Africa.
Brian Wheeler is originally from Cleveland Ohio. He moved from Ohio to the Africa in 2009, first stop was Kenya. He is a development professional, entrepreneur and writer currently based in Windhoek Namibia.
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