Pearl Interview: Keleti Sanon
Book spotlight: Another Chance, Maybe the Last
by Keleti Sanon
by Keleti Sanon
For Keleti Sanon, home is Africa but he has resided in the United States for over 20 years. As an immigrant, he faced many hardships. He needed a place to live and a way to survive. Unable to read, write, speak or comprehend the English language he understood the need of education if he was to make it in the United States.
In the early days of his arrival in Harlem, New York, Keleti worked as a cab driver, car washer and security guard all while dreaming of going to college and making something of his life. It was not only a dedication to himself that fueled his desire to better himself, but becoming an educated and successful man would help greatly when his brothers and sisters followed him from Africa.
Working full-time, attending classes, studying and helping his family, he was many times exhausted and overwhelmed. Still, Keleti never thought of quitting. Most days began with only four hours of sleep followed by work and a full course load only to return home and start all over again. Sometimes there was not enough to eat, but obstacles only pushed him further to succeed.
He obtained his G.E.D., graduated from college with a degree in Aviation Mechanics and a second Applied Science degree in Biomedical Electronics. His family is scattered across the United States, but all of them are successful and very happy. Keleti came to the United States and made a name for himself; proving dreams can come true and that sacrifice, self-discipline and having the desire to accomplish your goals is all you need to succeed.
In the foreword, author Marilynn Griffith talks about her own experience as a child of an African father and an African-American mother and her desire to know more about Africa. Sanon book, in her opinion, is the beginning stepping stone to receive that knowledge.
African-American: Understanding the Divide
Sanon sets out to explore the African American's painful legacy of slavery and the repercussions that are still felt as a result of it. In addition, Sanon illustrates, African immigrants' journey to America, and how Africans' and African Americans' culture separates them.
Africa’s Lost Children: Slavery’s Legacy
Sanon delves further into the history of slavery, detailing the economic causes of it and the cultural and psychological ramifications of it.
The Mother Land and Uncle Sam: Discovering African Identity in America
Sanon debunks the myths of Africa and offers and examination of Africa's geography. He concludes this section by discussing the prowess it took to strip a people of their African identity upon their arrival to America and offers suggestions on how African Americans can begin to embrace this identity once again.
It Takes a Village: Traditions of Respect and Rearing
In this chapter, Sanon looks at differences between Africans and African-Americans in regards to crime, education, and respect for elders and for self. By closely looking at life in America and the village life of Africa, Sanon notes the distinctions but calls for the reconciliation of heritage and identity to bring the two cultures together. ISBN-10: 0615305075 | ISBN-13: 978-0615305073
Intimate Conversation with author Keleti Sanon
Ella: What motivated you to create this type of book now?
The thing that led me to write this book, is that on many occasions here in the US, I have been ask the question by NON-BLACK people… "Why do black Americans call themselves African-American while they don’t know anything about Africa"? That question made me very uncomfortable every time I thought about it. For me, my cousins (African Americans) have taken a step closer to where their ancestors came from and I’m just proud of them. Since I was asked that question more then once, it started to bother me not to do something about it, I then decided to inform my African American brothers and sisters about as much as possible about my culture and tradition; specifically African culture and general tradition in general. They just have to know certain realities about our culture and tradition. I am not trying to make them feel that they have to practice the traditions and cultures, unless they desire to, but I want them to see the good and bad and judge for themselves.
Also, I want my African Brothers and Sisters to know that our mission in this great country is Yes, to better ourselves but I argue that all of us have another cultural mission and that is to inform our African American brothers and sisters about anything they need to know about Africa .
Ella: In regards to Another Chance, Maybe the Last who should read this book?
Everyone can read this book, although it is specifically addressed to blacks with origins of Africa , the knowledge can be applied to many other races: Chinese/Chinese American, European/European American, Asian/Asian American, and Irish/Irish American. Each of us can learn something from our original blood line in regard to culture and tradition so that we can inform our children and their children. Education in this area prevents us from carrying a title that we know nothing about.
Ella: What impact will this book have on the community?
My book will help people to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed about in associating themselves with the source of their origin, even if those places may not be comparable with their living style today but they should remember that we came from the people before us, and as life goes on we need to educate ourselves to know what made today possible. Knowing more about yourself gives you a better understanding of life, makes you a more loving person, makes you love the next person better, and boosts your self control and self behavior, bringing a good attitude in the community.
Ella: What's your underlying message in Another Chance, Maybe the Last?
African American brothers and sisters have suffered in this country for so many generations. From slavery, losing their African dialect, culture and tradition, they have endured SO many struggles. They fought for so long for their family and future generations to have justice with the help of civil right leaders like Martin Luther king and others and have made today much better than the past.
For me or others Africans to come today in this great country and enjoy all of the benefits; schooling, equal opportunity, and many other federal and state benefits available to blacks without being part of the fight that took place to get all these...makes me feel that I owe my brothers and sister something...and that something is to inform them as long I live, about the GIFT of Africa. I want to inform them about my Mandingo tribe specifically but also give them the general knowledge of African culture and tradition. Armed with this information in the midst of the abundance of Africans coming today from all part of Africa to the US , no one will again question them not knowing anything about Africa but they will strongly carry the title: African American.
Ella: What issues in today's society have you addressed in the book?
I have addressed one main issue in this book, that we as humans today, with the rise of technology have a tendency not to connect with past (that seems too old for most to think about), even though we know for a fact where our ancestors came from, we don’t want to associate ourselves with those places.
I believe parents should be doing more to first of all learn enough about their roots in order to teach their children, so that their children don't think that we fell from sky. We are destroying the original structure of human behavior and attitude in society. You will see around the country, African or African American relationships NOT succeeding for the majority of the time, because of the culture differences; the bad thing is that sometimes children get caught in the middle.
You also see Africans or African Americans avoiding each other and preferring to marry others with the exact same racial background rather than facing the culture issues and coming to a common ground or teachable level on both sides.
Ella: What do you want to see happen with this book?
My primary quest in publishing this book is hopefully to be able to reach and educate as many people as possible about Africa, so that we all in turn can educate our youth and others to have a better future generation in this big melting pot. Everyone should carry one; what that means is that we should ensure that our future generation knows about their origin so that they don’t feel like they fell from the sky.
We all have to remember that what happened in Africa a longtime ago matters here today in the US. Today the Africans are here in the US, and we are not going anywhere, my hope, is that we will be history teachers to our cousins.
Ella: Who did you see as your target audience for purchases? Why?
I primarily wrote this book for everyone from any cultural background. The same issues can be raised in each culture; but specifically for people with ties to Africa specially the African Americans. Why? Because African Americans have the chance that most other black nations outside of Africa don’t have! That is the chance to have so many Africans coming to the USA from all parts of Africa; which is actually not the same even in Africa. In Africa you, for the most part, may just see citizens from surrounding countries that closely surround yours; but not those from all parts of Africa.
I have been only to about 7 countries in Africa, but I have met about 30 citizens of other countries that I have never been to in Africa. Right here in the US, I have learned the similarities of culture and traditions to mine. Brothers and sisters can even learn from each other here in this melting pot.
I also hope that this book will help both sides to do better in their relationship, especially where children are involved. My hope is that in these situations, we will not let this culture clash take over. I would love to give something back that our brothers and sisters lost due to slavery.
Ella: What sets your book apart from other books in your genre?
My book may be unique in the fact that the theme is based on all of us wanting and needing to know something about our culture and tradition that made today possible. Everyone needs to know that, it doesn't matter if you are black or white, the US is a big melting pot of tradition and culture that I believe will eventually create another culture and tradition of its own with all these mixtures. The new culture will be so new that it will cause us to forget the old one completely, so we have ANOTHER CHANCE, MAYBE THE LAST to reclaim our history. If, we don’t do something, that new culture will be based on technology like we are seeing today, fast life, marketing, no respect for the next person and everyone will live in they own world.
In my book, we will explore common issues, between Africans and African Americans here in the US, such as : "why not many of them get married", how we children are raised in Africa, family ties in Africa, education in Africa, African celebrations and culture, the legacy of slavery and our journey in coming to America.
Ella: What was the most powerful chapter or scene in the book for you?
Each chapter carries a very powerful and unique message. You will explore a very typical Mandingo family daily life activities, from kids getting up in the morning getting ready for school. You will also learn what for breakfast, lunch, dinner. The following will also are well explained: dating, the childbirth blessing, the marriage ceremony and it procedures, crimes rate, divorce, roles of the oldest brother, education, color conflicts, family size, health care, Aids,welfare, and Technology.
There are many messages in this book. How to know more about ourselves, how to inform our kids where our roots or ancestors from, how to respect elders, how to care for our elderly parents, how to help out family members with issues other than to abandon them and how to build a strong family, just to name a few. I also want people to grasp how to focus and make their dream come true.
Ella: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I would not change anything in this book. I definitely have a lot more books forthcoming; fiction, non fiction, tales and stories from all over Africa . These forthcoming books will give my readers a sense and flavor of Africa, it people, the day to day life in the villages, town cities and issues they face on the day to day basis but ANOTHER CHANCE, MAYBE THE LAST will help my readers clears some misconceptions about Africa and it lovely people, and want to reassure my African Americans cousins and their heritage. I plan to continue to write and ensure my readers that I will be here informing you until we both understand that we have a common ground and we need to share our heritage .
Ella: What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
If you have been blessed enough by GOD to educate or share with others, please don t give up on that dream. Stay on it until someone gets it and share. Sharing is what we can all do to preserve what is preservable, so that future generations can live in peace together.
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