Last week I got an email from a reader,  Sojourner Ahebee , 14 years old, originally fron Cote d’Ivoire, now living in the United States. Turns out she’s a big fan of Africa is a Country. That’s a good start. (Sojourner has her own blog, a culture blog for teens of color called Sojo’s Trumpet.) She sent me a poem that she had written for an assignment in a diversity class at her school. The assignment “… was to write a poem addressing the stereotypes I felt overwhelmed by and to counter those perceptions.” I asked her if I could post the poem on our blog.  She obliged.

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like that and I’m African like that.
By Sojourner Ahebee
Not a bloated stomach, not a face encircled by flies, not a beggar’s hand
I am part of a billion people, with a million dances and thousands of tongues
to tell not only stories of tears, to play not only in the mourning band
I have a direct link to the origin of all humanity and shout this fact with my lungs
filled with the sands of the Sahara and the Kalahari.

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like that and I’m African like that.

You place me in your books and newspapers as one mass face
of AIDS and Malaria and T.B. –always the loser of the human race
I am one piece of a mosaic of 53 countries full of resources and grace
I dream, when you come to arm the hungry and take our wealth out of its place
that the Mediterranean and Rea Seas, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans would give chase
to drown your greed and let the waters be its burial place.

I’m cool like that, I’m proud like and I’m African like that.

You dare to rescue Africa with aging rock stars and uninspired actors
with agendas that do not include using us as our own benefactors
Listen to our voices filled with wisdom and experience and not be only our detractors
Listen to Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, Wole Soyiknka, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Listen to Africa.

Because we’re cool like that, we’re proud like that and we’re part of humanity like that.