*photo credit: trueafricanart.com

I have had the blessed fortune to come to know quite a few people who have relocated to the United States directly from the continent of Africa. Some came by choice after working very hard for the opportunity, some ended up here by happenstance, and others were sent here by force. Regardless of how we came to cross paths, or from which region or country they hail, I have experienced an undeniable warmth and richness of spirit from all interactions I’ve had. That is not to say that all Africans are wonderful, perfect people. Their characteristics and circumstances are as varied as anyone else’s, however, I have not encountered another ethnic group that consistently display what can only be described as soul.

After reflecting on this undeniable pattern, I have made the following personal observation: people from the birthplace of humanity simply have more years of experience living life on this planet. And I’m talking about the generational, hereditary and genetic experience of living as human for over three million years coursing through their veins. Malcolm Gladwell’s theory states that if any person does any one task for over 10,000 hours, they are guaranteed to master the task, irrespective of natural talent, resources or prior experience. If I picked up an instrument right now, at 40 years old, and practiced for 10,000 hours, I too could become a master at playing it.

If I apply this theory to humanity and the skills required to live a successful, fulfilling life on this planet, I purport that the people with the most African DNA have inherited the experiences of their ancestors which have prepared them with more resilience, more grit, and and an even deeper capacity to love. Colonialism, intermarriages, and immigration have now had enough time to influence most modern day Africans both on the continent and throughout the Diaspora. Most African Americans at this point have intermixed with one or more nationalities outside of Africa, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I have not seen the replication of a more soulful, resourceful and brilliant group of people than an African person who is deeply connected to their roots.

I made an analogy the other night while reflecting upon this. Diamonds are the product of compressed coal which has been placed under a tremendous amount of pressure for an unfathomable amount of time. It takes many generations of human life for a single diamond to fully perfect its form. Coal is a fossil fuel that is derived from the decomposition of organic matter. Humans are organic matter. Where have humans existed long enough that their organic matter has had the time to seep so deep underground, where it has remained, buried under enough pressure to form an almost infinite well of natural resources? The majority of the world’s diamonds are mined from beneath the continent of Africa. In short- the remains of African people turn into diamonds. What kind of magical human beings can turn into diamonds long after they walked the earth?

My respect for the continent, the land, the struggle of it’s people, and their undefeatable souls runs as deep as their history of being human on this earth.