On Thursday last week, I went to Springfield, the capital of Illinois to see sites around the life of one of America’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. I was in company of my host Prof Wilson who was visiting the place himself for the eighth time in company of visiting students and scholars.
(African students and visiting scholars to SIUE have had this 75 year old retired professor to thank for his effort in bridging the knowledge gap between the two sides of the world. For years, he has taken it upon himself to make sure that visiting students/scholars visit sites of historical and cultural significance in the United States, most times out his own pocket. In his company, I have visited the schools in Principia and Carbondale, and now the Lincoln home, Presidential Library, and tomb in Springfield. “Remi Raji was here too,” he mentioned as we were heading out of the Lincoln’s burial crypt, referring to the Nigerian poet and writer whose book Shuttlesongs America was written on his return from the United States in the summer of 1999. “And it was all too emotional for him. Here was where he broke down and cried”, he said, pointing to a spot near the exit out of the president’s burial crypt.)
Here is a short video I made of the visit. I’ll put up some pictures soon when I can.
For me, it was a moving, enlightening experience living through the life of one of the defining figures of modern America. – a complex, fascinating historical figure whose life, death, and legacy made a lasting mark on not just the country, but the world at large. The Presidential Library & Museum itself was a tribute to history, archaeology, and architecture – befitting of an uncommon man and a great president.