Africa: My Love Story
By Anna Winand
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to travel across Kenya on an AWF member safari. The trip brought us to many breathtaking landscapes, where we enjoyed spectacular wildlife viewing both at national parks and at local conservancies that AWF helps to support. It was wonderful to see firsthand how our annual contributions have translated to livelihoods for local communities and to critical habitats for wildlife.
Our trip coincided with Valentine's Day, so on that evening, a group of us sat around a fire and shared our own personal love stories. Mine was about Africa...
My story begins in New York City, where I was a student at Columbia University. One day, I happened upon a listing for a class on African literature taught by Dr. Wilfred Cartey and decided to sign up.
The year was 1967. The writer's organization PEN was to hold a conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the first such conference in Africa. Freddy, as almost all of the students called Dr. Cartey, was invited to give a paper at the conference.
A few days after wishing him bon voyage I received a telephone call. "How would you like to go to Europe, then to the PEN Conference and then to Ghana to work on a book on African literature—in a week's time?"
It turned out that because this trip had to be made over land and sea, as Freddy could not fly due to an illness, he needed a travel companion. His original companion had to bow out at the last minute, and now I had been offered this opportunity. I was excited, but calm. It felt completely natural; my time in Africa was finally at hand.
I immediately replied, "Yes!" And so it was that I spent six months in Africa working on a book with Freddy on African literature, "Whispers From a Continent," published by Random House.
Sense of rootedness
It was when I was working at Legon University, Accra, that my love affair with Africa began. The sights, the sounds, the endless landscape and sky, the people, the drama, the heady hopeful time of independence—all conspired to give me a sense of rootedness, of connection, I could barely conjure up in my own hometown, New York City.
They say if you want to know the people of Africa, you must go to West Africa. And if you want to see the wildlife, you must travel to East Africa. After many years I knew that opportunity had come when I read about African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and its trip to Kenya. Finally, I would have a chance to experience the other Africa I had dreamed about.
2015 was a hard winter in the American Northeast. When I received a letter from AWF that they had one—and only one—spot left for this trip, and would I want to join them, it was a very easy yes.
Once on safari, I found that there is nothing that makes me feel more alive than being in the company, if only at a distance, of the lions, elephants and other wonderful creatures of the African savanna.
Being able to recognize in my estate plan all the fine work AWF is doing to keep this world alive is a privilege. It is for me a way to give back to the continent and the people who have sparked and nourished my sense of adventure and given me the chance to dream of a world that recognizes the value of all its beauty, man and animal alike.
If you would like to become a member of the African Wildlife Foundation's legacy society, please contact Jessica Lindenfelser at 202-939-3322 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about your options.