Here’s how a boy from the neighborhood of the city of Atlanta is experiencing Africa from a thousand miles away and how an African kid inspired him building an AI out of scrap.
Elijah Claude is now the founder of The Journal of TechnoWizardry, where he writes to talk about his journey and also across other platforms like YouTube. There one could see how much he is documenting in making the world a better place.
As we spoke, we shared an aerial view from a hilltop. Although Claude is yet to discover his African genealogy, he expressed a deep connection to the continent and how he longs to experience it in flesh and blood.
Here, he shares his story and his journey to finding his African roots:
“In 3rd grade, my teacher gave me an F on a journal assignment where I drew and wrote about a flying bus. I became obsessed about inventing hover-cars ever since. I began to build prototypes with my Legos, reading books about magnetic levitating trains, and trying to teach myself aerospace engineering.
“That’s how I usually start my story…but after analyzing myself for my Black Ignite talk, I realized that the ‘origins’ of me becoming a Techno-Wizard was the poverty that I faced growing up. It was the fantasy worlds I escaped to, the frustration with my lack of reliable transportation, it was experiencing the systematic problems with the world.
“However, in high school, when I was applying to college, I read an article about this kid from somewhere in Africa who didn’t even have a house to live or easy access to clean water… he built a robot out of scrap metal from his local junk yard and got into MIT at the age of 15!
“That’s when I realized I was not a genius. I was an idiot. And that’s when I began to see the untapped potential of Africa. “But it wasn’t until years later when I got together with my Afrocentric queen, a young lady who didn’t grow up with a heritage like my Haitian upbringing, who deeply yearned to connect with her African roots. It wasn’t until she pushed me to look more into my own roots did I begin to learn about the great history of Africa.
“By studying peoples like the Bantu, Khoisan, Dogon, Ethiopians, Mandinka, Edo/Benin, Mbuti and so on I learned how life could be different. I learned that capitalism and America wasn’t some inherently superior system better than everything that came before. I learned about the costs to capitalism, the colonial roots, the deep history and riches that were lost, destroyed, or exploited.
“In addition to all of that, I read thousands of fiction books growing up, which filled my imagination chock-full of magical, futuristic, and epic ideas. I read so many books that I grew frustrated because my life was nothing like those stories! Then I began asking why. Why wasn’t real life as interesting, fun, and awesome as fictional worlds? Why couldn’t we travel through space or cast magic or build cool things that made people feel inspired?
“It was from all of that and more that I resolved to change the world! I wanted to live in a world where we had flying cars, arcane magic, and more empathetic/ethical systems that actually empowered people to be awesome, rather than crushing dreams. I wrote a book about how my ambition lit my way through the darkness of poverty; I’ve been documenting my journey for years; and I am constantly learning more about why the world is ‘fucked up’ and how to make it better,” .
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.