Saturday, August 26, 2006

Media Roundup: "What is Africa to me?"

I mentioned recently I’ve noticed a lot of news and media about Africa, Ethiopia, AIDS, race, and adoption lately. Of course these things, especially AIDS and African concerns, are always in the news; one need only be attuned to them. But I thought I would point out some things and give some links here for those who are interested. (Yes, this is also because we’ve accomplished little on the actual adoption process this week.)

A don’t-miss airing this week: “A Closer Walk,” an amazing documentary about AIDS in Africa. “Narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, A Closer Walk features interviews with the Dalai Lama, Bono and Kofi Annan, with musical contributions by Annie Lennox, the Neville Brothers, Eric Clapton and Sade. . . . ‘This is a story about the way the world is’ says Close in the opening line of the program’s narration.” It will be on PBS Thursday, August 31, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET.

The Australian version of 60 Minutes aired a wonderful story called “Out of Africa” profiling a family which adopted two school-aged Ethiopian children. You can read a transcript, but you will miss the joy of seeing these exuberant kids on video. (You will need to use Internet Explorer to see the video.)

The Chicago Tribune had this article about Ethiopian and transracial adoptions: “Out of Ethiopia: As more white Americans embrace African adoptions, experts applaud good intentions but point out social realities.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama is touring Africa and visited his extended family in rural Kenya. He’s popular here but outright celebrity there. NPR had an interesting story about the expectations (hoping for an open wallet) and preparations (whatdya know, that road’s finally been paved!) for his visit. I’m happy he publicly took an AIDS test to set an example.

I have not seen this, but a friend recommends PBS’s “Wonders of the African World” with Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He explores African history and culture, such as ancient Christian sites and the belief that the Ark of the Covenant may rest in Ethiopia. On the more geographical side, PBS also produced the series “Africa.”

NPR recently aired the series “Africa: Portraits of Poverty,” with six parts focusing on issues such as AIDS, educating girls, and the high risks of childbirth. I love the glimpses of life and culture and triumph of these kinds of stories—yet they are filled with sobering realities. These are the challenges facing the Ethiopian families whose children tragically (though joyfully for us) become our children. As adoptive parents we must grapple with these complexities. I wish more people would.

    What is Africa to me:
    Copper sun or scarlet sea,
    Jungle star or jungle track,
    Strong bronzed men, or regal black
    Women from whose loins I sprang
    When the birds of Eden sang?
    One three centuries removed
    From the scenes his fathers loved,
    Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
    What is Africa to me?

—Countee Cullen, "Heritage"

1 comment:

Amy said...

I use parts of the PBS "Africa" documentary in school with seventh graders. It's excellent in conveying the culture and daily life of different regions in Africa. My favorite is the Touareg group in West Africa, who still do yearly caravans for salt.