My plans were to go to Africa for my 62nd birthday. My intent was serious, so six years earlier, I had opened a special bank account to save for the trip. I intended to visit the slave states of West Africa, where most African-Americans are said to come from. I received a telephone call from my sister Barbara in January of 2002 that altered my plan. My nephew Akil was getting married to Margot, the young lady he had met two years earlier while in Cape Town, South Africa as an exchange student. At that time, there was no word on the date and place of the wedding.
My nephew Akil Cornelius, then a 21-year-old college student, met Margot Moses at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, a few hours' drive from Cape Town, in the summer of 2000. A romance blossomed and the next summer Margot came to Florida in an exchange program. The romance intensified and by the end of the year, Akil had graduated from college, entered the Army, and made another trip to Cape Town that deepened their relationship.
Margot tried to return to the United States, but after 9/11, it was impossible, so they met in London for Christmas in 2001. That Christmas Eve, Akil asked Margot to help find his dog tags. “It’s all about the element of surprise,” Akil said.
“I got to the room and on the bed was the Army tags and on its chain, the most beautiful ring I ever saw,” Margot says on their wedding web page.
While our family awaited word on the date and place of the wedding, I secretly hoped it would be in Africa so that our family would have a fundamental reason to (as we from the 60’s say) return to the Motherland. In March, Barbara made another round of calls. The wedding would be on December 12 in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s late spring there in December. A wedding party of family members formed and began the search for plane tickets and places to stay in Cape Town. The wedding party consisted of Barbara and Roland (Akil’s mother and stepfather), his sister Kamilah, Ted and Geraldine (Akil’s uncle and aunt) and their daughter, Rashida, my wife Gussie and me, and Alexander Cornelius, who is Akil’s father and Barbara’s ex-husband.
Traveling from different parts of the country, we all arrived in Cape Town within a few days of each other. The first night that we were all in town we assembled, along with the Moses family, at the Green Dolphin, a well-known jazz club on the waterfront in downtown Cape Town. Akil and Margot glowed as they watched the two families warm up to each other over music, wine, and great food. There were 20 of us in all and we were at the most joyous table in Cape Town that night.