A Nigerian Bible scholar once told me as we met for breakfast in Nairobi, "once you drink the waters of Africa, you must return again and again for more."
It has been a little over a year since I've been back for a sip. I cannot believe it's been this long. Priorities have shifted with the new and exciting challenges at CBN News in my professional life and raising my little son in my private life.
I miss Africa so very much; exploring new cultures and meeting new people. And, of course, having a good, strong cup of Kenyan coffee with my friends at Java House.
I carry a bit of Africa in my heart and in my arms…
In my heart, I carry the memories of the past four years of coverage.
The oppressive heat of the Somali winds as they blow across the desert sands. The shock of seeing the bones and dried blood of the massacred in Rwanda. The grief of holding a dying baby. The fear of being a foot from a landmine, knowing little children pass by dozens like it everyday on their way to school. Sitting in the dirt under a scrub brush tree talking with Somali women who have seen horrors I could never imagine.
But for every sad memory, there are two happy memories.
The joy of the Masai dancers as they leapt in to the air with the widest of smiles. The beauty of the early morning mist on the plains. The hope of a South Sudanese teacher as she taught her pupils. Drinking a steaming cup of "coffee sludge" in a small village. Drinking a warm Coke in the desert. Drinking ANYTHING in the middle of nowhere. The naming ceremony a group of Dinka Christians held to "adopt" me into their tribe. The bliss on the face of a young woman holding her first healthy baby thanks to a new local clinic. Getting lost in a Sudanese swamp and walking across dry river bed with my cameraman whose name really is "Moses!"
And the church services! There's nothing like the hours-long worship in African churches. In every country, I met brothers and sisters who have very little, but gladly give anything to their neighbors in need.
I also carry a bit of Africa in my arms. Although he is now an American citizen, my Ethiopian son will always know his heritage. I need only look into his face to see the beauty of his race. The hope, joy and potential of the many I've met and, God willing, will meet again.
There is a part of me that will always remain scattered amongst the acacia trees. And the longing to return is too strong not to return.
Africa Matters is not gone. The column will only be on hiatus for a while as things settle down around here. Keep an eye out for my byline. I will continue to write news analysis pieces in the coming months and warmly welcome your comments and story ideas.
Also, thank you to all the Africa Matters readers who sent e-mails over the years. You have shared your wisdom and insights; the good, the bad and the critical. All have been appreciated. Please, please feel free to e-mail me anytime.
I remain your faithful correspondent, dedicated to covering news around the world... especially on the African continent.