What is Africa to Me?
by L. Douglas Wilder, First African-American Governor (Va.)
Reading and hearing about Africa is one thing; experiencing it directly is quite another. We know that Africa is not a country, but it is a continent like none other. It has that which is elegantly vast or awfully little. Few, if any, doubt today that Africa is the mother continent and the beginning of humankind. Yet for all of its beauty and natural bounty, there are still ravages of disease and famine. The struggling nations therein, still reeling from years of colonialism and deprivation, must know that the timetable for validating their claim and natural right of governing, will not be liberally extended for them. They also inherit the mistakes and misgoverning of their predecessors. As I espied the portals of the "Door of No Return" on Gorée Island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, I was overcome with emotion. That I could return as Governor of the state to which my slave forebears had been shipped from this place was beyond my wildest contemplation; I had to be there.