africa by Chorouk Akik February 7, 2020
Going back to the motherland can be a life-changing experience.
We’ve heard time and again that those privileged enough to go come back with an entirely new perspective and a new drive to succeed and share their success with their community.
These people are often celebrities who stop by during tours or actively seek to discover what the continent has to offer.
But not everyone has the resources to make such an epic journey. Enter Birthright AFRICA.
You’ve probably heard of “Birthright” as a Jewish heritage program, Birthright AFRICA takes that concept and provides free educational trips to Africa for every youth and young adult of African descent in the U.S.
The organization was created in 2015 by Walla Elsheikh and Diallo Shabazz. Their mission is to help create a generation of global leaders and entrepreneurs.
U.S. citizens between the ages of 13 and 30 are invited to explore their cultural roots by selecting nations in Africa as a birthright.
“Through travel and project-based learning in collaboration with our partners, we aim to instill pride, enhance confidence, and spark the creativity of our Scholars to fulfill their leadership and entrepreneurial aspirations.” – Birthright AFRICA
The organization commemorated 2019 as “The Year of Return,” marking the 400 year anniversary of the first slave ship arriving in 1619 Jamestown, Virginia.
Birthright Africa works with sponsors like HBO to provide scholars with the ability to visit countries like Ghana and empower themselves.
It’s important for Black Americans as well as Black South Americans and Canadians to view Black History through the lens of a Black majority.
Birthright Africa allows Black youth to see themselves outside of the “minority” status they’re often ascribed to by their home countries.
Birthright Africa scholar and 23-year-old Haitian student Shaina Louis told CNN, “For those of us in the diaspora, our history, according to the textbooks, starts with slavery.“
She continued, “I was doubtful and kind of cynical about what the future holds not only for me as an individual but also for black people as a whole.”
“There is a sense of inner peace and ease I now have, that wasn’t there before. I can move forward with my life, with the intention behind everything I do.”
Another scholar who visited Ghana in 2019 through Birthright AFRICA, Kareem Williams said this about the trip,
“There’s so much prejudice and microaggressions [in the U.S.] that I didn’t feel in Ghana. I felt so connected to my ancestors for the first time. When I came back to the US, I realized how much it changed me. Like my life will never be the same.”
Some scholars even consider moving to the continent after their Birthright trip. Take 2018 Scholar Peteso Barlee,
“Growing up I was definitely very proud of my African roots but I think the Birthright AFRICA program has certainly played a major role in enhancing that awareness. I am now entertaining the idea of moving to the continent once I graduate college.”
The U.S. as Williams mentioned can be a highly disenfranchising place for minorities and Black Americans specifically.
Birthright AFRICA helps expand the Black perspective by reorienting African heritage and the diaspora to history, culture, and mindset that does not begin and end with American slavery.
To register for a Birthright Trip you can register on the organization’s website and open up a continent of possibility.