“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops” — Henry Adams
Today, I am taken back in time, to ntate Oliphant’s class, when I was half my age. He is reciting the poem, Africa by David Diop. As he recites this poem, his voice is heavy, reverent and amazingly captivating; its almost like it is the first time I have ever had him speak but it isn’t! It is merely the first time that I am awakened and connected to my identity. I am awaken to what it means to be an African and challenges that lie ahead in order for Africans to stand tall and not with their backs bent!
Ntate Oliphant, thank you for reciting this poem as you did:
Africa, my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral Savannahs …
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins …
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this you, this back that is bent
This back that breaks
Under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying yes to the whip under the midday sun? (ll. 1-2, 5-6, 11-16)
Happy Africa day to all! May we all continue in small ways to work towards an Africa that is peaceful, prosperous and democratic. Mayibuye iAfrica!