African Heritage…African Destiny

In elementary school, I grew ashamed of the African heritage that sprung from my father’s Ghanaian homeland.  Every day seemed to bring with it a new snide remark from fellow classmates.  Either, I lifted rocks for exercise, had too big of a nose, or was an “African booty scratcher.”  As I absorbed these remarks with smiles and giggles, I came to despise my heritage more each day.  All the while, my father shared story after story of Ghanaian heroes such as Jerry John Rawlings who overthrew two corrupt governments before solidifying Ghana as a democratic state.  Why couldn’t I muster up even a little of Rawlings’s courage to stand up for my own heritage?  Instead, I did everything I could to fit in.  I pulled down my pants as soon as I boarded the school bus.  I tried to pierce my ear.  I incorporated as many curses as possible into my vocabulary.  My nickname during those years embodies my efforts to reverse my heritage.  I went by Emawk–Kwame spelled backwards.

I continued to suppress my heritage throughout middle school, but as a freshman away at boarding school, I finally began to embrace the very culture I had tried so hard to reject.  Surrounded by boys from privileged backgrounds and WASP society, I spent hours in the weight room, on the basketball court, and on the track trying to harness my physical prowess in order to prove I belonged.  Thankfully, my teachers took a sincere interest in my cultural roots, and it was through their eyes that I began to see my own heritage anew.  Conversations with my teachers challenged me to engage my heritage and read about these heroes my father had spoken of during my youth.  Kwame Nkrumah’s passion for uniting the countries of Africa sparked my interest in the African Union and its goal of creating a United States of Africa.  J.J. Rawlings’ pursuit of justice in overthrowing corrupt governments in Ghana led me to investigate corruption levels within his own administrations.

In college, coursework studying African politics, American foreign policy, and African cultural continuum in the United States helped answer some questions and guide me in framing more.  Follow-up on past research confirmed that African émigrés to the United States needed to be more involved in US foreign policy concerning Africa.  Work with African-American elementary school-age students convinced me of the need for a connection between African-American youth and their peers on the African continent.

Now, I find myself in graduate school studying Public Administration as I bring more shape to my ideas regarding African émigré involvement in US foreign policy and connecting African and African-American youth.  My postings will let you in on the development of these ideas.  I will look at a wide range of issues, including the following: private equity investments, incursions by Chinese companies, political elections, governance, US foreign policy, and the development of African and African-American youth.  Feel free to comment on my posts.  I want this to be an interactive process as I plan to learn an incredible amount in this process, and pray that you do as well.

Speed It Is I Love

My first track meet ever, I lined up for the 100m dash next to a guy wearing Air Force 1s, jean shorts, and an NFL jersey.  All eight of us in the race had no idea how to get into the right stance, and were jumping around trying to get a jump on the starter’s gun.  When the gun did go off, my man in the Air Forces did not waste any time getting to the finish line.  While I was not the fastest guy, I had so much fun—just running. 

After winning the county championship in the 200m dash in the eighth grade, I had the opportunity to run with a track club during the summer.  Humility is something I learned quickly as I ran against the likes of Michael Grant, one of the fastest 13-year olds in the country.  I also learned what it was to have good form, and to develop my own by studying other athletes.  In high school I became a perfectionist, studying video after video of athletes like Justin Gatlin, Dwain Chambers, Aziz Zakari, and Maurice Greene.  I dreamed of dominance while watching Jesse Owens run and Bob Beamon jump.  I scoured professional athlete progressions on http://www.iaaf.org.  I began following other high school athletes on Dyestat and Milestat.  I raved about Kelly Willie and Jeremy Wariner facing off at the 2002 Golden West Invitational, both running sub-46 in the 400m dash.  Brendan Christian ran 10.20 in the same meet!  I wanted that kind of speed.

I was fortunate that my football coaches in college allowed me to continue running track.  Both sports taught me extremely valuable lessons.  I developed a mental toughness on the track that enabled me to push through a sophomore season in which I fouled out of meets for both the indoor and outdoor seasons in the triple jump, until I set a huge personal record in the Southern Conference Championship.  I developed a physical toughness on the football field that created a craving for contact. 

My obsession with track and field statistics bordered ridiculous.  After track meets, I would spend hours studying results from meets across the country.  I kept a mental log of the progression of a number of athletes and offered my predictions for the NCAA Championships, US Championships, and World Championships whenever anyone showed interest.  I am itching for the indoor track and field season to begin.  I did spend some time this fall expanding my knowledge of cross country running and road racing.  Look forward to comprehensive commentary on track and field at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels.