In African-American Eyes

The motherland is a source of increased pride for U.S. blacks. Now it is time to face some unpleasant truths under the veil of romanticism

What is Africa to me:

Copper sun or scarlet sea,

Jungle Star or jungle track,

Strong bronzed men, or regal black

Women from whose loins I sprang

! When the birds of Eden sang?

One three centuries removed

From the scenes his father loved,

Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,

What is Africa to me?

-- Countee Cullen, Heritage

Every black American who journeys to Africa seeks an answer to that question -- and I was no different during the 2 1/2 years I spent as a Time correspondent on the continent I think of as the motherland.

On Goree Island, a rocky...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!