I can mention million more reasons why I should pay my gratitude to many Americans; only I picked the few salient examples that have deeply impacted me. There are more; trust me.
I have documented all of them for my Griot stories.
By the way, such effusive praise isn’t rendered blindly (I have seen my share of racial animosity, especially in the 70s and smell its stink from a distance even today), nor deny the
fact that there are great countries in the world who deserve praise. America is still a work in progress. We haven’t seen yet her days in the sun. We haven’t seen her reaching the pinnacle yet!
And in closing, I want to thank the late Herb Cane of the San Francisco Chronicle from whom I had picked up some of my writing styles (not as good as his, however), and Professor Clark Smith, who, when I was going for my undergraduate study in Organizational Behavior at USF (a program that I had no idea what it was all about, but liked the essay writing part) he encouraged me to continue writing, because he thought my stories as a Griot on America were insightful and amazing.
And then there is the Reverend Rick Warren (of the Saddleback Church, almost sixteen years younger than me but sixteen million years wiser), for his unflagging support and encouragement every time I met him at the gated community where he lived. After that incident with the Cat in the Freeway, I had gone back working as a security guard and was able to complete two books and gave him a copy of my Ethiopian book (Fikre-Kidus) and a copy of The Prince of Africa. These two books were merely intended as limited edition to gauge their approvals among a few colleagues, but not intended for public consumption.
Reverend Warren took the books with delight. Not that he didn’t have enough souvenir collection from around the world cramping his shelves. Especially after his blockbuster book The Purpose Driven Life came out, he was traveling the world and preaching tirelessly in Asia, Africa, you name it. I thought, however, my little accomplishment would mean something, because I was really trying to say thank you to him as an African for his remarkable job in Rwanda. He, along his wife Kay Warren, were seriously involved in the Rwanda case, trying to ameliorate the condition in that country, in the same sense that the late Senator Kennedy was doing in Ethiopia in the 80s.
The difference: one was a politician and the other is a religious man.
“I know you don’t read the Ethiopian language, but I want you to have these books because you mean so much to me. Just keep it as a souvenir,” I said, giving him the books.
He said: “I will consider it a greatest gift. It means a lot to me,” was all he said.
I haven’t seen Reverend Warren since, but I follow his work intently. His gain is my gain and his loss is my loss. I had met his late son Michael at the guard gate several times and I was shattered when I heard the news of his passing. He was my friend.
And I say to you Dr. Warren and Mrs. Kay Warren: Africa loves you.
And we are eternally indebted for your unmitigated love, for your unflagging spirit,
and for your unrequited benevolence. Yes, the Griot in me will mention your love everywhere I go. God Bless.