If I Know A Song Of Africa, Does Africa Know A Song Of Me?


“If I know a song of Africa, … does Africa know a song of me?” (Karen Blixen)

The unanswered question hanging from a nail somewhere deep in the souls of all living in a foreign land.

Is my life, my presence here, meaningful?

I purposely did not use words like fruitful, productive, nor any other word measuring achievement success. Evaluation words, the hard mechanics of scrutiny from institutions, agencies, and donars. All too often as we evaluate effectivness and productivity (and we should) we no longer see the the inherent value of this living, breathing soul of a person. Some, sadly, have become a cog in a replica machine, and they sense it.

No, this is an almost existential question, and to some degree such questions seem self-focused.

Is my person, my passion, my joy, my sadnesses, my loves, my hopes,  my laughs, my tears, my life here meaningful to anyone? Not simply in what I produce, but in what I am, as a living soul.

One can sense inner reflection, with a touch of wondering melancholy, as her words unfold. They choked me up a little.

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”  (Karen Blixen)


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