Longing to know more about my roots, I recently made my way to Africa and documented my spiritual pilgrimage.
I had never thought much about my African identity until I left the U.S. and discovered W.E.B Du Bois’ Social Theory – Double Consciousness; i.e., having two conflicting identities (instead of one). For me, that is being both African and American. This led me on a path of self-discovery. I read everything I deemed important to enhance my understanding of Black Americans from Frederick Douglass to Malcolm X. Then, when I learned about Marcus Garvey in his Back-to-Africa Movement, I was filled with pride, for he instilled confidence in the Black community both locally and globally.
I became conscious of the African diaspora along with Continental Africa and their fight against subjugation. I saw their fight as inextricably linked for Africans of the Diaspora fought for freedom and civil liberties as Africans of the continent fought for freedom of colonization and then neo-colonization. Both wanted, and still want, freedom.
My self-discovery path led me to the ideas of Afrocentricity and how Blacks need to be agents of their history and culture as opposed to being acted upon by others.
Much of this research guided me towards West Africa, in particular Ghana. I learned about Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who bravely and successfully fought for Ghana’s independence, the first country to do so. I also learned that many of the slave castles built were in Ghana. All of this information inevitably led me to Ghana on a pilgrimage in which I visited some of the cultural and historical sites, for example, Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum, W.E.B. Dubois Centre, Cape Coast Castle, Elmina Castle and Assin Manso (the last bathing site). Additionally, I interviewed Africans of the Diaspora that repatriated to Africa; I partook in a libation ritual for my ancestors; and I was given an African name: Kojo Taabir Sankofa.
The journey and experience had not only been incredible but self-liberating for I had become more conscious of my identity.
It is worth adding that I had always seen myself as a Black American far removed from Africa in every respect – geographically, culturally and spiritually. But now, I do see myself as an African American, and I see the value of being African for my history does not begin with slavery but with people who built incredible monuments, who ruled for thousands of years, who enriched many modern-day religions and who Herodotus delineated (Egyptians) as having black skin with woolly hair.
I hope that my story encourages Africans of the Diaspora to take pride in their African identity.
This is a documentary about an African-American who has returned to Mother Afrika in pursuit of connecting to land that his ancestors were uprooted from over 500 years ago. His journey, however, does not begin with his pilgrimage to Ghana. It starts with him leaving the US, living in various countries such as South Korea, Thailand and now the Gulf region. But ultimately, these countries bring him closer to what his spirit desires: AFRICA. Embark on this Journey with him and see what Africa has to offer. AKWAABA!
Demontray Lockhart is an English Instructor in Saudi Arabia and holds an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. As a researcher, he is interested in how racism and ideology are portrayed in the media and other discourses. He is currently working on a book about his self-liberating transition from being a Black American to an African American. He has also started a clothing line inspired by John Henrik Clarke which is OHINA, an acronym that means “Our History is in Africa”.
Originally published at Africa.com