• Annette Johnson

Unity Is Our Superpower

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Season 1 Episode 1 – Lion Historian Podcast

Featured Guest: Meisha Robinson – I Am We Are Youth

The Lion Historian podcast is an initiative of Monjae, Inc. Monjae derives from the Liberian Bassa language and means “because of you.” The conversation with social entrepreneur Meisha Robinson of I Am, We Are Youth (IAWA) was always planned as our first podcast episode release. There are so many reasons looking back on why this was meant to be so. Meisha, whose official title is Chief Executive of Hope, introduces a word we need for the journey, and now more than ever: Hope! Should you ever have the blessing of meeting Meisha in person, you would agree that she exudes hope both through her voice and energy. In fact, this infectious hope permeates our conversation. We move in with and through active hope as necessary fuel to destination self-actualized Africa – and by extension, the world.

IAWA’s mission is to give youth the tools to confidently own their future. So many would agree that the youth are Africa’s most underutilized resource and anyone constructively focused on this population gets respect in my book. Having worked in a past life establishing the Child Justice Section at the Ministry of Justice in Liberia, I know all too well what happens when we neglect to invest in young people.

Founded in the Royal Bafokeng Nation of South Africa, IAWA’s programming has expanded to include program offerings in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Through IAWA’s facilitation African American youth have been opportune to visit South Africa, providing space for youth to engage and explore just how much they have in common, while naturally planting seeds of unity. Earlier this week I received an early morning call from Meisha, overjoyed to learn from IAWA’s youth ambassadors that they had taken collective initiative, without soliciting her help, to apply for educational and professional opportunities. During these troubling times, lessons learned from IAWA programming prove fruitful. Like Meisha, I also agree that young people have so much to offer and that the learning is always two-way.

A key feature of this platform is bridging the gap by bringing the people of the continent and the diaspora together in the spirit of Ubuntu (Zulu/isiZulu for I am because we are). And so, we begin this journey together on Season 1 Episode 1, holding hands across the illusion of a divide of origin and in recognition of our common destiny. The Kpelle ethnic group of Liberia succinctly say: “Kukatonon” (we are one). African culture makes room for the collective which includes me, a Liberian-American woman and equally so, Meisha – an African American woman born in Washington, DC – as part of the ‘we.’

This episode is both timely and timeless; it was recorded in 2018 around the release of the Black Panther movie. There are some obvious parallels between the story of the Royal Bafokeng Nation (the kingdom) of South Africa - where IAWA was birthed, and the kingdom of Wakanda:

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The story of the Royal Bafokeng’s prescience, which ensured reclamation of their land post-apartheid, lends an empowering lesson: the opportunity to strategize and plan during dismal times propels change with the eventual turning tides. We have Sankofa (wisdom from the past to inform the future) to guide us.

There are so many themes to unpack in our conversation, much to learn from Meisha’s journey, and to draw inspiration from as change agents. My key takeaway? Unity is our superpower. Thanks for this inspiring and hope-filled conversation, Meisha!

IAWA will host its thematic 5th Annual Reception, I Am Here, on Saturday November 14, 2020 from 10am-1pm Eastern Standard Time. Details here.

Listen to the episode here: www.monjae.com/lionhistorianpodcast.

Follow I Am We Are: www.iamweareyouth.org

Instagram/Twitter: @iamweareyouth


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