Perception Africa

September has been one of those months, that we’ve uttered Greenday’s famous line: Wake me up when September ends quite a couple of times, and true to the woes that have come with this month, today we woke up to some very sad news, Prof Wangari Maathai passed away after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Yet she fought for our right to enjoy the breath of fresh air we do in Nairobi. She was a strong woman, who always believed we all can make a difference in the society just by planting trees. When I woke up at 5am today and so the RIP tweets on Twitter,I didn’t want to believe it was true that she had passed away. She was a remarkable woman and I couldn’t help but share a poem I wrote back in 2005 called Perception Africa, she was the first African woman to win the nobel peace prize and helped change the perception people had of our continent. It’s sad that she had to be recognized and appreciated outside, instead of in her own country by the leaders of her country.Kenyans and Africa as a whole have really lost a hero. Because of this poem I wrote six years ago inspired by her, I won a slam competition(but do I shout about it)thought I would share it with you guys

Third world Africa
Known for its poverty ,hunger and pestilences
They perceive Africa
as a dying continent
The little knowledge they have about Africa is what they see on CNN, SKY or BBC
They focus on our suffering,
How women and children are dying
of war, aids and starvation
They judge us as being a poor nation
Oh! how wrongly they’ve perceived you Africa

They don’t know how rich your soil is
How vast your beauty is
They focus on the killings
But if they could only see how hospitable, loving and caring you really are
I think they would change their perception
If they could only capture that sunrise
or watch the beautiful migration of the wilder beast
Natural beauty for their eyes to feast
they will see how wrongly they’ve perceived you Africa

The mother of all nations
They forgot you sprang forth rich minerals
They don’t remember how painful it was for that child whose legs was blown up
just for them to marvel at the shiny rock on their fingers
a painful song lingers
But you put on a brave face Africa
Ignoring the slanders laid upon you

At least they’ve recognized some of your offspring Africa
how proud you are to have outstanding children
who for their efforts to change their perception about you won the noble peace prize
The likes of Mandela who fought for peace and an end to white minority rule. The likes of Wangari Maathai who fought for our right to live, breathe free and enjoy the shades of the trees, hear the birds chirp while sitting in the park.
Though many haven’t been recognized yet

Sure we are dying of poverty, hunger and AIDS
But how will we move forward
If they keep focusing on your negativity
When will they turn their attention
To the great rift valley
The amazing Victoria falls
The beautiful white sandy beaches
or focus on our unity
our affection
The ever smiling face of a hard-working African
Wouldn’t it be nice if the headlines read:
Africa’s beautiful people
Rather than the war on Sudan?
Or the corruption in Nigeria?
I hope they will change their perception
Africa is a charming continent.
And that’s the right perception!

We can all show our appreciation and honour her by planting trees, and join a worthy cause by @AKenyanGirl on Twitter this Saturday

“You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them,and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.” … Wangari Maathai. 1940-2011

Peace and Blessings, Vionna


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