An Africana Epiphany


Proud Member
Apr 24, 2011
An Africana Epiphany

It always seems impossible until it’s done
Nelson Mandela

December 21, 2015
Khartoum, Sudan
6:00 a.m.

He sat quietly, his communication headset fitting snugly around his ears. They greatly minimized the roar of the engine and the constant hum of the rotor blades over their heads, protecting everyone’s ears. His children fidgeted behind him, their faces both sleepy and excited about this unusual journey. It was highly unlikely for any other human being who was not critically ill to be transported in a medical helicopter, hovering over an enormous helipad, then touching down oh so delicately on that universally understood red cross symbol. It was still a few more moments until their arrival, however. Their pilot seemed unimpressed with his special cargo. Even if it was Michael Jackson and his three kids.

“Thank you,” Michael said in the mic on the headset, “for bringing us here so early.” He looked at the pilot, gauging his reaction, hoping for a smile or a multitude of you’re welcomes. However, the young man remained silent, his eyes looking straight ahead, gazing into the blushing dawn. Michael mentally shrugged, and watched the dichotomy of inky black sky full of a billion glittery stars as it transformed gradually, beautifully, into a glorious Sudanese sunrise.

He gasped softly at the sight before him while they steadily approached, reveling in the bird’s eye view, the awakening of the golden sun peeking over the edge of the world, how it illuminated the linings of puffy, natively African clouds in soft shades of pink and orange. The landscape fairly teemed with ancient tradition, infinite vibrancy, and...enduring hope. Vast fields of green, acacia trees, and the flowing Nile embraced the site on all sides in its newly constructed splendor. The massive medical city materialized before him, a tangible and impressive testament to twenty -first century modern architecture and technology. This was the greatest accomplishment of his entire life, despite all the awards and accolades for his unparalleled success in the music industry.

The idea for this project began well before the This Is It concert tours, his determination unwavering to set the millions of details in motion to fulfill his greatest wish, one made on a star many times. He was going to build the biggest children’s hospital in the world, near what was widely theorized to be an original part of the Biblical Garden of Eden. He loved the thought of that sacred setting, the ancient Nile River, and the Motherland herself, giving healing sustenance to children and families in Africa and throughout the world. A beautiful sanctuary for his babies.

It was grueling work lasting more than five years. Many medical professionals, hospital developers, government officials, construction crews, lawyers, architects, and designers worked tirelessly toward this endeavor. He examined and approved all financial phases, created the Earth Song Foundation, and established a solid marketing campaign using all available promotional and social networking tools. These experts and he had successfully planned and built the largest medical facility in the world, filled with 5000 beds, the best medical equipment and technology, and all available pediatric specialties and services. The truly hard work was just beginning for the professionals who were to staff the hospital at the start of the new year, after the many celebrations for dignitaries, donors, and doctors beginning this week. Grand opening ceremonies were meticulously planned and finalized, featuring entertainment from A-list celebrities and delicacies prepared by famous chefs at nightly, formal galas.

He was to officially dedicate this new hospital with an elaborate swan song concert on New Year’s Eve, highlighting and combining dancers of traditional African performance throughout the show. His true final curtain would be broadcast worldwide from the front lawn of the hospital itself. While many details still needed his undivided attention, he chose this particular morning for his one opportunity to experience the reality of this hospital with his family.

The pilot landed perfectly in the middle of that red cross and was busy shutting down the aircraft. As they began to disembark, Michael took off his headset and turned to exit, reminding his children to wait until the blades stopped spinning overhead. He turned in surprise when the pilot clutched his forearm, saying his name urgently. Michael looked directly at him, immediately noticing the tears in his eyes.

“My parents gave me the name Nelson,” he said, his Africana accent wonderfully pleasant, “for the great Nelson Mandela, because he was freed when I was born. And you have saved my son’s life.” He swallowed as his tears fell. “His name is Amir. He’s only five years old, and... he has cancer. Your hospital will make it possible for his treatment. So, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Michael smiled and clasped both of Nelson’s hands in his. “I’m sure Amir will be just fine,” he replied. “Thank you for getting us here safely.”

Michael and his children walked quickly to the rooftop entrance. They enjoyed a comprehensive tour from top to bottom, and lingered in the gift shop where Michael chose an adorably soft teddy bear, for little Amir, signing the ribbon around the bear’s neck. In the entrance, they read the glass wall of illuminated names honoring worldwide human and corporate benefactors. His children led him outdoors, where he greeted the blazing sun as tears flowed freely down his cheeks. Impulsively, he ran with carefree abandon through the grasslands, feeling the African earth humming her appreciation until he finally reached the White Nile and turned back to view his dream in all its glory. He saw the helicopter perched on the roof, his children flanking the large Michael Jackson Children’s Hospital sign, and a flock of wild budgerigars appearing suddenly over the rooftop, their pastel colored bodies shooting upward in a perfectly choreographed dance of flight. He cried out in triumph, for God in Heaven and his many blessings, and for how the earth, the sun, and the moon were dancing with him, celebrating the glorious gift he would soon give to all the children of the world.

(I wrote this shortly after Nelson Mandela died, in December 2013)