Heritage binds us together. It connects us through deep roots of power and royalty, introducing us to our royal ancestors who came before us. Much of our culture is in the dark about their heritage and even more of us don’t make it back home to the royal continent of Africa. Although the African Development Bank Group reports that visits to Africa have risen over the years, there are still African American individuals who will never get to explore the land of their ancestors.
For those of us who haven’t had the opportunity to get back to Africa, we must learn and investigate how the trip was for someone who has gone. Meet Demetria Richardson! Young, vibrant, and hardworking, Richardson handles her business here in the states and she handled the business of discovering our homeland: Africa.
You can imagine the excitement of her trip and can just imagine how taking your first steps on African soil can take your breath away. “I was both in disbelief and overly excited,” Richardson tells us, “I’m in Africa.” After spending years of wonder and curiosity about the land to which we credit with our heritage, it’s safe to say that her excitement has been building up for years. She continued, “Places we discussed in grade school seem so far away so you never actually imagine going there. So when it happened I had little words. I had made it to the motherland and I was extremely grateful.”
While most people’s purpose for their visit is to simply explore the homeland, Demetria’s cause will give you chills:
Senegal initially came about because of its history. I wanted to begin my exploration of Africa with a purpose. One day I came across the door of no return on the internet. It’s a door within the house of slave located on Gorée Island which is off the coast of Senegal. The door is the final exit point for the slave who were sold from Africa. I was captivated by that. That exit point was a link to my history and I had to see it. I had to experience it to bring me closer to the tragedy. I planned the trip several times beginning back in 2017 but something always prevented me from going. This year happened to work out perfectly.
Perfection, it was. The amount of history that she soaked up is almost unbelievable. The energy that has touched her life will be the same energy that will carry her through the rest of her life. Just talking to Richardson, you can hear the excitement and passion for gaining her deeper understanding of her African roots. That understanding is one that we encourage everyone to plan for, in fact, Richardson will tell you that planning such a trip is not as difficult as you may think:
The trip was not hard to plan at all. I researched places in Senegal where I wanted to go. I also sent out and email asking each person planning to go to add their interests. Once ideas were submitted I consolidated them and figured out what was in the vicinity of one another. The things that were close to one another we put in the same day. It’s pretty simple. For any trip, especially places where attractions are widespread, I’d suggest people used google maps to first to get an idea of how far attractions are from one another and from your hotel.
The energy. The heritage. The understanding. All things that await us for our trip back to the motherland and Demetria confirms so. Dealing with the struggles of cultural ‘tug-of-war’ in the United States, we can embrace a new energy of our ancestors in our life by taking steps on our homeland. We asked Demetria to describe what she felt and her answer will shock you:
While in Africa the energy was like no other place I had been before. The south is renowned for its hospitality but whoever said southerners were hospitable has not been to Africa. Everyone welcomed us with opened arms. They referred to us a “my sister” which made us feel like we were home. Everyone we met tried to open their house to us. They invited us back but told us not to stay at a hotel or an Airbnb, [claiming] that we could stay with them free of charge. I loved their spirits, their energy and them. I just hope that some of my blood will be Senegalese.
We hope that we too can one explore the homeland. We encourage everyone to research their heritage and roots to find out who you really are and to find out as much as you about those who came before you.
Thank you, Demetria, for sharing your story with the CTZNS family.