Today, I clock 26. It's my heart's argument that I am older and wiser; that I am more entitled to opportunities of love, accomplishments; music; acceptance; liberty and an actual life. It's my heart's argument that I should have the final say in how I choose to pray, walk, talk and write.
Today, I clock 26, and it's like the world around me seems to be at peace. Hatfield, is quiet and everyone is out working on assignments with very close deadlines.
However, the reality is far from what it appears to be. Several miles away there is home. The place where I had my first kiss. The place where someone once called me beautiful . There is home, a land that bears my story and can very much be fruitful. There are lives that weave into mine in simple and complex braids and warps. There are stories and struggles that have condensed into my existence so much that it has become me. And there are piles of counter-arguments that, in roaring loudly at my heart in their large numbers, seem to carve out their legitimacy.
Dear Africa, am I wrong for having a heart that works?
Am I wrong, for announcing the scripts of the universe, of God?
I ask this questions from rationality, because my heart can not care any less about being wrong or right. My heart, sliced from the core of heaven, forged by the Flames of Creation, from the Threads and Oceans of Phenomenal Stories that chose who tell them. My heart, the crazy one that has fallen in love one time too many. My heart, the foolish one that learns no lessons and insists on its truth.
Today, I clock 26, and I know what my life is about, and conversely what it should have no business with. I know that it has not been a party, and it may never be. However, there is the conviction that God has written me forevers in places that were once hurricanes and with ink that was once lightening. And has placed me amongst the best of men and women, stories, opportunities and realities. He has gifted and laced me with all I need to be. And being is all that is necessary to be done.
Dear Africa, I wish that I have every part of my life laid out neatly as it seems above. But they are not. I have been called unrealistic and brave because I do not echo the public chronicles. I have been called gifted and distracted because I seem to be wasting my time and abilities on a lost battle. These labels are fierce and profound. Still my heart insists on not being bothered. There are more worthwhile things to fuss about, I think. Like how to manage the gemini that I am. About that...
While a part of me is legalistic, rational, thorough yet distant and questioning. The other part is fluid, wild, irrational, severe, promiscous, 'foolish', daring and deep. Each continuously being fiercely honed by books, stones, stories, whips, lectures, assignments, tasks, journies, projects, relationships, opportunities and lives. It's tricky that while these two parts are essential for my existence, and complement each other, the world sanctions me when they cross paths. Stories should not be legalistic, and legal arguments need to be crisp and unpoetic. What to do? None will give way for the other. What a fate!
Regardless, the best part of my 26th birthday is that I am part of a generation of groups and individuals bold enough to loudly question the norm, to cross the line, to call the world's bluff. Bold enough to insist on new narratives and definitions. I am part of a struggle that has now refused to be hushed any longer. Above all, I stand with these reality, lives and stories at a place where the rainbow kisses the ground, where victory is most possible and visible. Fortunately, I am here like the 6 year old Nnanna dreamt in 1996, with God and the best of men and women praying, dreaming and winning with and for me. But this time, I know that life is not a rehearsal. We don't always have the luxury of time to think things through. Muhammad Ali's candle went out yesterday, and my mortality smacks me in the face. I am 26, and time will pass whether I know what to do or not; whether I do it or not; whether I shine, hide or realise my dreams or not. I'm learning not to think of myself as superman or indispensable. I'm learning to fly and to stop ocassionally; to shut my door when I need to and to hold hands; to fall when and where there is a pressing need to even when it's not an accident; to be silent and listen because the world and her politics is also about everyone else. However, this does not preclude me from doing the things I need to do, and saying the things that I need to say.
I'm learning to count the days in units of thoughts, moments, lessons and reflections than in anticipations and contemplations. I'm learning not to hold onto 'sainthood' as it is for the dead. Life is for the living, being, moving, learning and growing.
Dear Africa, I am 26 today, and I cannot think of more worthwhile gifts than the reality of bearing the knowledge of my God ordained purpose in the sharpest of precisions; the chance to be part of you and the opportunity to give my best . More sweetly, that you are part of me, courting me, my work, my people, my life and dreams so sweetly.
I still hold you to greater possibilities and expectations, even while yet in love and hopeful.