The SAs a girl, she tried to break the color barrier in Houston schools. As an adult, she worked in the African liberation movement and against apartheid.
Marion Williams built the house on Farmer Street himself, board by board, nearly 50 years ago. That was long before the concrete river of the East Freeway inundated dozens of square blocks of nearby homes, starting the long, slow decline of the Fifth Ward.
It was from the Farmer Street house on a hot September morning in 1956 that Williams walked his 14-year-old daughter Beneva into an unwelcoming world -- a world in which African-Americans were forbidden to drink from the same water fountains or attend the same schools or even die in the same hospitals and be buried in the same graveyards as white people. It was a world that young Beneva Williams was sent to change, although at the time she barely comprehended the significance of her assignment.
Thirty-nine years later, Beneva Williams Nyamu is back at the still trim two-bedroom home on Farmer Street, sitting on the living room couch and reviewing a lifetime of change that has taken her on a tumultuous odyssey from the Fifth Ward to Mother Africa and back to the Fifth Ward. A small woman with lively eyes and short-cropped hair, she impatiently thumbs through photo albums spread on a coffee table. The plastic-sheathed pages are studded with empty squares, the attrition of years of family picking and pilfering and forgetfulness. It's the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend, and Beneva's mother, Ada, has sequestered herself in the kitchen baking dinner rolls and shepherding short ribs through an oven purgatory toward a higher purpose. In a backroom, 100-year-old Dock Hardison, Beneva's maternal grandfather, sits quietly in a chair next to a bed, his tiny frame birdlike and vulnerable. He smiles but barely mumbles.
It might be an idyllic gathering of the generations on a holiday weekend to celebrate family and long life. It isn't. It is quite possible that the 53-year-old Nyamu will not outlive her grandfather. The tension in the small house is palpable.
For Ada Williams, the kitchen work provides a refuge from the painful issues -- some reverberating from the deep past and others from the all-too-real present -- that are being dredged up as her daughter recounts her eventful life to a visitor. Ada remembers well the morning that her steelworker husband walked Beneva the few blocks to then all-white McReynolds Junior High and helped fire the first shot in the decades-long battle to desegregate the Houston Independent School District. Beneva and Delores Ross, another young girl who tried to enroll at an all-white elementary school, never studied in an integrated grade school classroom. But theirs were the names on an NAACP lawsuit that eventually pried opened HISD's doors to thousands of other African-American youngsters.
Ada, who worked as a seamstress then, also remembers well what happened after the suit was filed -- the phone ringing at the house on Farmer Street for weeks and the anonymous voices issuing threats and racial epithets. Ada never said a word, listening quietly in the dark as the invective spewed from the mouthpiece. She tried, she says, to insulate her daughter from having to live with that fear.
"I never knew that," says Beneva, listening to her mother talk of the past in the bright, innocuous light of a Saturday morning in 1995.
It is to this house and city Beneva has returned, unwillingly, a prisoner brought back to Houston from Zambia nearly five years ago after the next chapter in her life on the African continent was aborted, possibly by the prick of a needle in an apartment rug. The sliver festered, and Beneva made a choice she now says she instinctively knew was wrong from the moment it was made, granting her approval for a minor surgical procedure to remove the needle in a ramshackle Lusaka hospital. Then followed respiratory problems that in retrospect probably were the initial signals of HIV infection. It is also possible, Nyamu acknowledges, that the operation simply triggered a latent HIV presence acquired through relations with a boyfriend in past years. In a Third World country not far from the epicenter of the 20th-century's worst epidemic, there are many possibilities for infection.
It was in Houston on a visit to see her family in 1989 before heading to Namibia to work with the new government that she was tested by a doctor and told she was HIV-positive.
Beneva's mother found the news of the virus harder to deal with than the racial contagion she faced down nearly four decades ago.
"It cuts you in two," Ada Williams says of her daughter's illness. "It's something you have to live with, but it's hard."
Beneva says her mother has come to accept the reality of the disease, but, nonetheless, Ada has decreed her kitchen off-limits to her daughter.
"I don't have to wash dishes anymore," Beneva explains.
"Come up and visit me at Park Plaza," commanded the message on the recorder phone. "I'm going to be there for a week and I sure don't want to go all that time without a visitor."
The premise seemed improbable. This reporter has known Nyamu for nearly 20 years, and "alone" is the one word that never would have been applied to her situation. Friends in Tanzania remember that while her African husband was quiet and clannish, Beneva epitomized gregariousness and rarely could be found at home alone. In 1975, Nyamu became the supervisor of a Harris County child welfare unit, and her in-your-face, get-with-my-program style was like a cup of strong black coffee. Some were energized by it, and some people were driven up the wall by it. With a manner friends call feisty and she terms "assertive," Beneva has stimulated plenty of both reactions in her life, most recently when she was fired from SHAPE Community Center in the Third Ward after a run-in with longtime director DeLoyd Parker. She's a perfectionist who has little patience for the time required to gradually bring people around to her point of view.
Sure enough, at the hospital Beneva is anything but isolated. The table in the room off the eighth-floor nursing station is crowded with packages and flowers, and her phone rings intermittently with calls from family and well-wishers. One of the nurses on her floor is an old comrade from the Free South Africa movement Nyamu helped establish in Houston in the 1980s. Her daughter Ndapanda -- the product of Beneva's marriage to a Namibian exile leader in Tanzania -- is also in daily touch after a period in which the two didn't see each other much. But despite those contacts, Nyamu feels locked within an invisible cell that HIV has somehow imposed on her world.
"I have never been as alone as I am now," she says. "I've never lived in a place where people didn't come in and out of my house. There are people I can call, but really, there is nobody."
Nurses and interns periodically come in and out of her hospital room, checking the IV drip that is infusing a melange of AZT and other drugs into Nyamu's bloodstream. She has been diagnosed with HIV encephalopathy, an infection centered in the brain. By some definitions, full-blown AIDS begins when a patient's T cell count falls below 200. Beneva's has been in the range of 50 over the past few years. But she considers the phrase "full-blown AIDS" a media buzzword that only scares people. She points out that she doesn't exhibit all the symptoms of AIDS.
"I have an HIV infection," she reiterates. "That's what you call it."
HIV's predation in brain tissue, as well as the drugs employed against the virus, can cause a maddening loss of short-term memory, narcolepsy and dry mouth, as salivary glands shut down.
"Don't mind me, I'm just going crazy," Beneva cracks wryly as she fumbles while looking for an item. With a badly damaged immune system, the threat of opportunistic infection is constant. The side effects of the four primary drugs employed against the inexorable multiplication of the virus carry their own side effects, including an inability to eat. The depression engendered by having an incurable disease can sap a person's energy more than the virus itself. Nyamu says that has been perhaps the worst aspect of HIV for her: isolation, immobility and questioning of self-worth.
If there is anything that has characterized Nyamu's adult life, it is a ceaseless, sometimes unfocused rush of energy directed toward an uncertain goal. Public attention came almost automatically to her, and some things, like a sense of belonging, didn't seem to come at all, until she moved to Tanzania. While no one would compare Nyamu's razor-sharp intellect and wit with the movie character Forrest Gump, she shares his knack for consistently popping up at the scene of historical events.
Her long odyssey started at home with a sense of isolation, both from her parents and her sister OcieNell.
"We were not close at all," remembers Nyamu. "I was just on my own. I sang, and I think singing helped cover up for a lot of stuff."
She adored Marion Williams, even though he was a strict disciplinarian who employed physical punishment unsparingly. "I hated those beatings," remembers Beneva. "Nowadays, we'd probably call child welfare." But when she and her sister had a ferocious argument about which parent they would choose if Marion and Ada Williams ever split up, Beneva had no doubt -- she would go with her father. Marion Williams died of heart disease in 1973.
As a schoolgirl at E.O. Smith Junior High, she found herself receiving public notice for two distinctions that required no real effort on her part. She had a natural, beautiful soprano singing voice. And after 1956, she had citywide recognition for simply walking to the door of McReynolds Junior High with her father.
Beneva had become a political symbol decades before she developed any real political consciousness. At the time, she had little real awareness of the realities of apartheid in 1950s Houston.
"Because you were sort of secure in your own communities, you didn't really think about it," Nyamu explains. "To go to town on Saturday, mother would make you eat first, go to the toilet and get water. And I never realized why until I got older and went to town and discovered the stinky bathrooms and dirty water fountains [reserved for blacks]. People can say 'Hey, this is happening,' but it didn't really stick until the time I tried to go integrate the school."
It was Marion Williams who brought the world of politics into the house on Farmer Street. Beneva's father had a voracious reading habit, despite having only a third-grade, rural schoolhouse education in Wharton. Largely self-educated, he felt no great desire to socialize with whites. But, as Williams testified later in the NAACP lawsuit against HISD, he had a firm belief that a segregated education was an inferior education.
"My dad did a lot of reading, and political things," Beneva recalls. "He didn't have a lot of degrees, but he had a lot more sense than a lot of folks who did." Her father had attended a meeting the NAACP conducted to recruit parents and students to challenge HISD, which by 1956 had made no move to integrate, despite the Supreme Court's ruling two years earlier against segregated public schools. Marion Williams agreed with the need to pursue legal action against the school district, and tried calling people in his neighborhood to recruit plaintiffs.
"Nobody was willing, so it was just us," says Beneva.
Williams asked his daughter if she wanted to try to attend a school near their house, and she said yes. Because of her lack of many close friends at E.O. Smith Junior High, it didn't seem there was much to give up by changing schools. And if she could get in, Beneva reasoned, many of the neighborhood kids would follow.
The visit to McReynolds was fleeting that Tuesday after Labor Day. The Williamses waited for the principal, who in due time told them he would not enroll Beneva. "I remember somebody calling me a nigger and saying, 'We don't want you here,'" she says. "I got back to E.O. Smith at lunchtime and I didn't say anything to anybody. I didn't know what to say."
The day had put her name in Houston history. Williams once lost her purse on the bus, and a caller offered to bring it to the house. "Mother decided to go pick it up alone, and the woman was so disappointed," laughs Nyamu. "She told mother, 'I wanted to see Beneva Williams.' So that name ... even now among older people, if you say Beneva Williams, they immediately know who I am."
HISD finally integrated its first school, Kashmere Elementary, in 1960, the year Beneva Williams left Houston to attend predominantly black Fisk University in Nashville. She attributes her prominence from the lawsuit for helping her obtain a Jesse H. Jones scholarship. Opportunities for admittance to schools like Oberlin were available to her, but the girl in the schoolhouse door now says, "I went to Fisk because I was afraid at that time to go to school with whites. Not physically afraid, but I knew I hadn't done well as far as skills, and my SAT scores were not that great."
And the memory of that morning at McReynolds lingered.
"It really made me think. That's when I started getting afraid of going to a white school, after the way they treated me."
At Fisk, Nyamu discovered that racism and elitism could be found at even predominantly black institutions.
"I got there, and saw black-on-black racism existed," she says. "Light-skinned versus darks. All the beauty queens were light-skinned, longhaired young ladies. I got tired of that. There was the money thing, too."
She began to wonder whether her fears had been misplaced. "You didn't feel friendly and comfortable," she recalls. "So I decided, 'Hey, you were scared to go to a white school because of white people. And then you get here, and black people treat you like shit because you don't have the right attributes.'"
But at Fisk, Nyamu began plugging into the people and the cultures that would provide the framework of her life as an adult. There were African students who befriended her and "taught me how to dance. You think all black folk can dance? This one couldn't."
And she met Gerald Davis, a fellow student who would later become a mentor and point the way to a life in Africa. Davis had a well-developed political view of the world, and found Nyamu energetic, but unaware.
"She struck me as very politically naive," he remembers. "She had a few friends, but stayed pretty much to herself. That's why I was amazed to discover the part she had played in Houston school desegregation. She was apparently unfazed by any of that activity."
Davis says that had Nyamu spread the news of her Civil Rights notoriety around at Fisk, "it probably would have increased her social [standing] immensely." As it was, Beneva stayed outside the sorority/fraternity social system and went her own way.
Davis laughs when asked about Nyamu's characterization of Fisk as color-conscious and elitist. "That's probably why people chose Fisk," says Davis, who later became a Princeton professor specializing in folklore. "There's no surprise there, man. It's a bastion of black, bourgeois elitism. The irony was that the more I got to know Beneva, it was clear that however much she resisted that, it was part of her own background as well."
Davis eventually graduated from Fisk, while Nyamu dropped out and applied to the University of Oregon. While she developed some close friendships with white students, her grades were average to failing. Nyamu left Oregon without graduating and took jobs in Oakland with the American Red Cross and, later, a telephone company. She began dating African men and experimenting with African clothing and hairstyles. She had also begun to come out of her shell, as Davis discovered when he flew to San Francisco to apply for a job with the American Friends Service Committee.
"I wrote her and she met me at the airport," recalls Davis. "She had grown up. She was far more confident, far more energetic, and her wit had sharpened. She had become an enormously more complex, interesting, almost captivating person."
But Nyamu, says Davis, was disenchanted with the quality of her life in California. "She was a woman of great energy and sense of expansion, and little of that was happening," he remembers. He encouraged her to apply at the University of California at Berkeley to complete undergraduate studies. The school was offering a special program to attract minority students, using a system that allowed applicants to discard failing grades from previously attended universities and transfer only the credits. Berkeley was also a cheap state school with available scholarships.
At Berkeley, Nyamu continued to gravitate to Africans, with whom she seemed more at ease than African-Americans.
"People were just friendlier," she says of the African social scene in California. "You could go to a party with or without a date and you didn't have to worry whether somebody was going to ask you to dance. You could get out there and just dance. You had that freedom. You might not know folks, but if you had a little life you could end up participating."
During her second year of graduate school at Berkeley, Nyamu briefly hired out as a traveling companion for singer Nina Simone. She accompanied Simone on one European tour that ended with a quarrel between Beneva and the singer's then-husband, a former cop who'd been flirting with Beneva. "He told me not to let her drink. I said, 'How do you keep a grown woman from drinking?' He said, 'You're fired.' I said, 'I resign.'" She returned to Berkeley to finish her master's degree.
Nyamu visited Ghana on a studies program tour in 1969 and began focusing on a future on the continent. The first immersion in black Africa was intoxicating. "Coming down on that airfield in Ghana was just really fantastic ... all these black people running things," recalls Nyamu. "Go in customs and it's all black, everywhere you go. No white person can mess with you because of race. I enjoyed it."
Her father actually helped her make the decision about where she would eventually settle on the continent.
"I had chosen either Guinea or Tanzania, and told my father. He said, 'Oh yeah, [Tanzanian statesman] Julius Nyerere,' and he went on and on. I said, 'That's where I'm going.'"
Around the same time she met a member of the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) named Jesaya Nkundiluki Nyamu at a Bay Area party and learned he was heading for Tanzania. "He said when he saw me at the party, he knew I was the one for him," chuckles Beneva. Within a matter of weeks, she took one of the few genuine gambles of her life and jumped into the unknown.
"I really just took a major chance ... I packed up all my stuff I was going to take, shipped it and paid for my ticket, and went."
Beneva Williams arrived in Tanzania on July 6, 1971, a national holiday called Saba Saba, the seventh day of the seventh month, the date the country's ruling political party was founded. A month later, she had a job as a social worker with the Tanzanian government, an apartment and a fiancee. Within three months, she was married to Nyamu, had taken his name and was expecting a child.
In the early 1970s, the seaside Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam served as the center of the African liberation movement. It was also the laboratory for a massive experiment in home-grown socialism, the Ujamaa program of President Julius Nyerere, the continent's leading intellectual-politician. At that time, Dar es Salaam was for the international left what Managua, Nicaragua, was to become in the 1980s. For serious reformers, it was a place to teach and learn. For international trendies, it was a hip, exotic hangout. Safely buffered by several states from the military might of South Africa, Dar es Salaam sheltered and nurtured the growing exile forces of the African National Congress and SWAPO, the Southwest Africa People's Organization, which was bent on liberating the South African-occupied Namibia on the South Atlantic coast.
"Dar es Salaam was a real draw for people who were looking for political experiences that were not the norm," explains Fatima Weathers, who went there with her husband to train Tanzanian teachers in physics and electronics. "You could get into really heavy debates about political systems with some very intellectual people."
Fatima and Beneva were drawn together by their status as African-American expatriates and the impending births of their first children. Soon they were visiting daily.
The radical chic glow of Dar es Salaam, at least for Weathers, has dimmed over the years, but the memories of Third World life remain salient. "In retrospect, I still see it as an experience that raises your consciousness about the differences among people and their access to basics -- food, clothing, shelter," observes Weathers. "Living in Tanzania gives you a real perspective on what poverty means."
Beneva Nyamu tried hard to become accepted as a Tanzanian, but Weathers says that just wasn't possible.
"It's hard to be totally absorbed in another culture because they will always perceive you as an interloper. If things get bad, they may not be able to get any bread or flour, but you can always call home. You can say, 'Ma, send me this.' We always had that option. It kept you on the fringe. You were really just another colonialist in dark skin."
After Beneva's marriage, she also tried to learn the ropes of her husband's liberation movement. At one point, SWAPO dispatched her to an institute in Leipzig, East Germany, to study language and Marxist theory. It didn't take. Nyamu returned to Tanzania after several months spent studying German.
"Beneva's not a political animal," remembers Weathers with a laugh. "And Marxist dialectics -- that just alienated her. That's not where she's coming from. She has a natural grasp of the need to involve people, address their immediate needs, and sometimes that transcends political dogma." Without the theoretical framework, it also stopped her from further upward advances in the liberation movement. In any case, it would have been difficult for any foreigner to rise to command positions in those organizations. Nyamu later worked on SWAPO projects in Zambia, but being an African-American and a woman kept her out of positions of influence. At one point, a party member even accused her of spying on the organization.
Nyamu's relationship with her husband fell apart within several years of their marriage as he moved on to other SWAPO assignments. But they remained married, and Beneva to this day isn't certain whether they are divorced. Jesaya Nkundiluki Nyamu, a deputy minister in the Namibian government, has since remarried.
The liberation movement, however, continued to provide support for mother and child in Tanzania.
"SWAPO considered Beneva to be the wife of one of their leading activists, their prominent people," says Weathers. "They more or less took care of her, and turned a blind eye to the quality of the relationship, the fact that [her husband] was gone for weeks or months at a time."
Beneva makes it clear that, from the start, her relationship with Nyamu was not a storybook romance. "My hurt when we broke up was not that I was so in love with him," she says. "It was that he didn't have the respect to tell me why. And he wouldn't talk. Just refused to talk."
After the effective breakup of her marriage, Nyamu and her daughter eventually flew back to Houston, where she lived for eight years. She picked up more academic degrees. Among a series of jobs Beneva landed was as supervisor of the adolescent foster care unit in Harris County Child Welfare, where she became close to director Odessa Sayles. After years of being a political novice among veterans, Nyamu for the first time took a leading role, organizing on behalf of South African liberation in the city. She helped make the Free South Africa movement a potent force, organizing protests at the South African consulate, campaigning against allowing South African state airline links at Intercontinental and pushing a city ordinance cutting off the investment of city funds in companies doing business with the apartheid regime. Along with the years in Tanzania, she counts the period of anti-apartheid politicking in Houston as the most fulfilling of her life.
Eventually, the lure of black Africa became overpowering, and for the first time, Nyamu directly sought the help of SWAPO leaders in arranging a return to Africa in the mid-1980s. This time she was headed to Zambia to work in a U.N.-sponsored project. Part of the reason for the return was to allow daughter Ndapanda closer contact with her father. Zambia, however, was not the same environment as Tanzania. Nyamu found the people less open, the projects she worked on disorganized and some directed by people she considered incompetent, and dusty, drab Lusaka several stations below graceful Dar es Salaam. As her daughter observes, the Africans her mother had known before had changed and seemed less open to her and less committed to the struggle.
By decade's end, SWAPO was finally preparing to take power in Namibia as South Africa relinquished control, and Beneva began planning for a life there, even though it would not be with her estranged husband. Then came the needle injury, the operation and what was to be a brief visit to the United States. She remembers the precise moment -- April 18, 1989, at 3:30 p.m. -- when the doctor informed her she had tested positive. It was a shock immersion in what would be her third, and likely final, struggle.
Anger was her first reaction, anger that she would not be flying in with the rest of the SWAPO members to celebrate in a liberated Namibia and work with children in a free black nation, anger that she would not be in South Africa to welcome Nelson Mandela's release from jail. The virus had robbed her of the logical fulfillment of those years in Dar and Lusaka, and the reward for her political organizing in Houston.
"She called me and said in a very flat, deadpan voice, 'You know, I've got this virus,'" recalls Fatima Weathers. "I said, 'What virus?' She said, 'The AIDS virus.' I just went through this period of disbelief."
Weathers asked Nyamu to come to Boston to visit with friends. "We wanted to know the extent of the infection, what we were in for, how much time. At the time she seemed to be coping, but I got to where I could hear in her voice when she wasn't coping well."
It's a tone Weathers has been hearing during most of her recent conversations with Beneva.
After she returned to Houston from Zambia, Nyamu bought a small frame house from a friend's ex-husband. It's located on Providence Street in the Fifth Ward, perched just off a feeder of the East Freeway and perhaps five minutes from the family home on Farmer Street. The living room bookshelves are crammed with tomes on African-American history, folklore, and African studies. There are also pamphlets and periodicals dealing with AIDS. On the walls hang the signposts of decades of travel and residence in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia. A bright copper engraving of elephants is arranged over the mantle and carved woodwork arches gracefully over a doorway. A visiting nurse drops in with packages of dressings and medications for a portable IV dispenser that stands beside the couch, one more souvenir courtesy of an unwanted visitor acquired in transit.
Nyamu has been through a variety of programs and support groups designed to help HIV-infected people deal with the awesome burden of knowing they have an incurable disease. It is a knowledge that can be as debilitating as the physical symptoms of the disease, which on the average do not manifest themselves for more than 11 years after the initial infection.
She has been in support groups with gay white males, where gayness seemed as much an issue of discussion as HIV, and groups for black women who acquired the virus through dirty needles, and for whom drug abuse is as much a topic of discourse as HIV.
As HIV specialist Dr. Philip Johnson observes, the entire issue of HIV patient support groups is a difficult one. How much support can a group generate, when half its members may be dead before a year has passed?
Beneva has spoken to youth and church groups on HIV awareness, traveled to Yokohama, Japan, for an international conference on HIV and had the satisfaction of serving as an election observer for South Africa's first free elections. Yet at this culminating struggle of her life, she feels shut out of a vital role in the fight against AIDS.
"She can't seem to latch on to any groups that are predominantly people like herself," says Fatima Weathers. "She did come to Cleveland one time and she talked with people doing HIV groups here. But they indicated a similar dilemma, that most of the funding and the programs are actually doing outreach to gay white males and that has to do with the stigma still associated with the illness, and that it's so hard to organize around it."
Nyamu, who contends the HIV movement is controlled by gay white males and middle-class white women, believes that the priorities for addressing HIV infection in minority communities are being subordinated to other agendas.
For the girl in the schoolhouse door, the irony is overwhelming. At 14 she was enlisted in the Civil Rights struggle before she had any awareness of it, went to Africa to escape racism, and there contracted a virus that now has forced her to return to face an issue she hoped to leave behind forever.
With U.S. health specialists predicting that the fastest growth rate in HIV infection in the United States will occur among African-American women in the South, one would think there would be a large role for an advocate with Nyamu's varied background.
So far she hasn't found it.
"Here I am, a 50-year-old woman, three college degrees and sort of at the prime when you're ready to do something," she says. "And there was nothing for you to do. And that has been a major issue for me."
"It's a real dilemma for her," agrees Weathers. "She can't find people to share what she's going through, so that she can have people going through this with her."
Part of her difficulty is Beneva's impatience with the process of working slowly into an organization and developing ties and bringing people along slowly to her point of view.
"My mother sees something wrong, and she feels that she should contribute toward making it right," says Ndapanda. "The reason she's had frustration is that not everybody is willing to change. And maybe she's trying to do too much in too little time."
It's late morning on the outdoor patio of a coffee shop in the Heights. Beneva picks at her plate of scrambled eggs, eating very slowly. The HIV medication makes it impossible for her to eat much at any one time, and Beneva eventually bags some toast and eggs to snack on later in the day.
A fitful breeze kicked up by a distant thundershower is damp and humid on this early summer day, and for Beneva it conjures up memories of the palm-lined avenues and Indian Ocean trade winds of Dar es Salaam.
"Those are the places where my heart is," she says softly after a pause in the conversation. Her eyes seem focused on a point very far away. "My body may be here, but my heart isn't."
Hers is an emptiness that can't be remedied with an IV drip. The person Beneva is perhaps closest to in spirit, the friend she made in those electric days in Dar es Salaam, wishes something quite different for Nyamu.
"I think that she genuinely believes that what she's looking for is in Africa," says Fatima Weathers. "My own analysis is very different, that what Beneva is really looking for is something within herself, that there's no place that will provide it. That it's a journey within that she hasn't taken yet. I hope she does.
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