Africa and Western World / Arts and Culture

The Real Africa: A Poem

Having been born and grown up in Zimbabwe my entire life, moving to Philadelphia for college was quite an adjustment. While I made friends easily and settled into life in the United States, even becoming an American citizen last year, a huge part of me always wished I were back home in Harare, the African version of the city that never sleeps. I wrote this poem during a bout of homesickness in 2009, inspired by the images of the continent that defined my childhood and that were largely ignored by the popular imagination created by American media. “Africa” meant something very different for me than the usual news of war and poverty and disease, and I wanted to convey that in a way that would resonate for members of the African diaspora. Even at the University of Pennsylvania, which I attended as both an undergraduate and graduate student, and where I took some extremely stimulating classes on African history and politics, it was sometimes difficult to escape discussions that generalized the continent as one large, single entity, rather than a place made up of very different and often paradoxical elements. This was my attempt to break that stereotype:

7784529_origTrishula Patel is a writer and alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She has an M.A. in African and world history. She has worked for The Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is currently back in her home country of Zimbabwe teaching French at a high school in Harare. 

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