In July, 2008, I, Princess Rachella, Intrepid African American Girl International Journalism Consultant, pulled up stakes once again and headed to Nairobi, Kenya. Through my various adventures, I've concluded that if I get any MORE explosively fabulous in these prequel years to "THE BIG 5-0," I will have to register myself with the Pentagon as a thermonuclear incendiary device.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
And then it occurred to me that I'm just happy to be anywhere. Last Christmas Day probably scarred me emotionally, moreso than I've ever admitted. As long as I live, I will never forget the eerie silence in the Immigration Arrivals Hall at Detroit Metro Airport, where I queued for 4 hours AFTER having sat on a runway for 5 hours, in the plane that landed just after the one that ferried the Nigerian Nitwit whom I've affectionately nicknamed the "Underoos Bomber" from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Everybody, even exhausted babies and toddlers, seemed too stunned to make a peep by that point. People who had only an hour or so earlier cursed KLM, and the airport, and the Fates for ruining their Christmas Day were all of a sudden visualizing themselves splattered across the runway, or incinerated beyond recognition. It was probably the closest brush most of us will ever have with terrorism, even though we weren't on the same plane, and nobody got hurt. But somehow, we all really felt it. Deeply.
So, when I recall finally sinking into my bed at the Airport Best Western in Romulus, Michigan around 10 PM on Christmas Night 2009, having consumed my Yuletide feast of Fritos and Coke, I remember feeling an insane level of gratitude. Jetlag and shock kept me wide awake for a few more hours, which I filled by flipping through cable channels and being soothed by nasal American accents. It didn't matter that I didn't get any turkey or stuffing or gifts, or hear any carols or get to watch Rudolph or Charlie Brown or "A Christmas Story 24-Hour-Marathon" on TBS. I was alive.
That's why this year, it just doesn't seem like such a big deal that I'm not in America being ushered into the bosom of somebody's family on Christmas Day, or that I don't have a family of my own to cook for, or a kid to spoil. It doesn't matter that this little chocolate-colored Afro-centric angel is the only ornament on display at the Oasis of Graciousness, and the only card I've received so far came from the delivery guy at the grilled chicken joint I've subsidized over the past two and a half years in Nairobi.
Just like Celie said in "The Color Purple," I'm here. Dear God, I'm here! That's all the Christmas spirit I need, for now.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
We both feel pretty lucky to be doing what we're doing at this moment in time. The American media business is going through major mid-life crisis, and that's putting it mildly. It's a perfect time to be a Journalist Without Borders, to travel to new places and approach our craft from a different angle. If the rest of my career plays out through helping other people become better journalists, that feels right, somehow.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
I lay curled in the fetal position in the center of the bed at my beloved Mnarani Club at daybreak, and even the thought of lying by the pool brought no pleasure. So much had gone wrong, I just wanted to evaporate, maybe stand out in the middle of a Kilifi Road without a hat and sunscreen until I melted into a puddle of chocolate flopsweat.
One day, I'll tell you why. It'll be part of my weighty ruminations about the challenges of journalism training on the African continent. But here's one scene that made every minute of the past week worthwhile. Getting reporters past the official press releases and the sound bites, and the pharmaceutical company PR, and into the wards where the real impact of diseases like pneumonia and HIV/AIDS plays out is absolutely critical. I can only hope the experience ignited the reporting instinct for one or two of them.
What I do is about connecting the dots until they form a bigger picture. Call it my "peripatetic pointillism," if you will. Or just say that for some reason even I don't fully understand, all the bad stuff is worth it if one person embraces a deeper journalistic vision for him or herself.