By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]

“While narratives over the past few decades have painted a wide range of views of Africa—as a child in need of development, a rising economic power, an imminent threat, a tinderbox of terrorism, poverty, forced migration, and disease—the truth is, as always, more nuanced. One thing is certain: the transformation that Africa has undergone in recent decades has been remarkable. Africa is shaping its own destiny and should be referred to as the ‘African opportunity’ instead of the ‘African threat.’”

The above is from an article titled, “Africa is an opportunity for the world: Overlooked progress in governance and human development,” published by the Brookings Institution in January.

Over the millenia, Africa has been everything to everybody, often to the detriment of Africa herself.

The truth is, Africa has been, and always will be, the foundation of this world–and the Mother of Humanity.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

In September, I’ll make my first sojourn to the First Continent, specifically to the miraculous East African nation of Uganda (the second largest landlocked country on earth) and I’m honored to report on my experiences for the AFRO.

For six weeks I’ll be volunteering with Catholic Relief Services’ “Farmer to Farmer” program, providing media and public relations support for the American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda. And during that time, I’ll file several reports via video and print from the lush Republic of Uganda for the AFRO.

The truth is I’ve dreamed of Uganda for decades. Of course, I’ve known about the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin since I was a child. But, I was first introduced to the physical beauty of Uganda while watching the movie Mississippi Masala in 1991, starring the living legend Denzel Washington and the beautiful Sarita Choudhury. The iconic Sade (my favorite living singer, along with Mary J. Blige) sang about Lake Victoria (her indigenous name is Lake Nyanza in the Bantu language) in her quintessential ballad, “Is It a Crime?” She crooned….

“My love is wider than Victoria Lake

Taller than the Empire State.”

That’s a whole lot of love; the truth is Lake Nyanza (Victoria) at its widest point is about 209 miles, which is longer than a trip from Baltimore to New York City.

It is the world’s largest tropical lake and the second largest freshwater lake on earth (second only to Lake Superior in Michigan).

Flag of Uganda

Over the years I’ve often thought about trips to Africa and have mused about various countries, but Uganda was always in the front of my mind.

It is bordered by five countries: Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although it is landlocked, one-quarter of its surface is made up of lakes and rivers.

I’m prayerful I’ll have the opportunity to travel to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to get a glimpse of the majestic and extremely rare Mountain Gorillas (about 800 remaining in the world, half live in Uganda).

I’ll be residing in the capital city of Kampala; with a population of about 1.5 million, it is roughly the size of Philadelphia. It has a thriving, rich culture I am excited to explore and report on.

Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper, AFRO CEO and Publisher, has traveled to Uganda on three different occasions for her work in ministry (she is Pastor of Freedom Temple AME Zion Church). And she tells me the people of Uganda are beautiful and “very friendly.” I am eager to get to know them and tell their stories.

I could be wrong, but I believe the last time the AFRO reported directly from Africa was during World War II, when the legendary Ollie Stewart filed dispatches from Northern Africa.

Several decades later, I’m excited for our readers to learn more about the First Continent and the people of Uganda through the eyes of this reporter.

From West Baltimore to East Africa; I’m looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and the author of “Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.”