I just finished reading Long Walk to Freedom, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, which has been a bedfellow for the past month. My obsessive reading of African history started back in June. I began reading so that I wouldn't lose the intense feeling of action, discomfort and confusion that I felt upon returning from Uganda. The readings have taken the amorphous shape of guide-less travel - a kind of literary and historical wandering around the continent. From selfish humanitarianism in Sudan (Acts of Faith and Emma's War), to brutal colonialism in Congo (King Leopold's Ghost), to genocide in Rwanda (We Wish to Inform You...), to child soldiers in West Africa (Beasts of No Nation), to AIDS in South Africa (We Are All The Same)... I always find new histories to uncover; new perspectives to ponder. It is all new to me, and the deepening complexities run parallel to my inner struggles about what my role might be.
Without fail, I find myself amazed and inspired by the stories of individuals like Nelson Mandela - those who fought and continue to fight for humanity.
So this year I'm thankful for so much - more than I ever imagined - but mostly the capacity of human strength and endurance in the face of suffering.