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Isaiah Washington Is Not Acting

By on September 27, 2011

Isaiah Washington is not an actor. Just ask him.

Talking from the set of his latest film project, the Houston native tells me half-jokingly “acting has been a 25-year fraud. I’ve only been an actor to get your attention. I am a Pan-Africanist.” His commitment to his African heritage is personal has deep roots.

In 2006, Washington discovered his direct genetic link via a genealogical DNA test conducted by African Ancestry, Inc. to the Mende people of Sierra Leone. A subsequent visit to Sierra Leone yielded extreme goodwill and marked the beginning of his efforts to rebuild the country.  Not one to take his ancestral ties lightly, he pursued African citizenship..and got it! This makes Isaiah Washington the first African American to receive such an honor and President Ernest Bai Koroma became the first African President to bestow full citizenship to an African American. Isaiah Washington fulfilled a dream sought but unfulfilled by Dr. King and Malcom X among others.

Recently, Washington also penned a pretty revealing memoir, A Man from Another Land where he talks about everything from his family upbringing, his time on that network tv show, his work in Sierra Leone to how he came to be named Chief Gondobay Manga II. So I had to ask, how does it feel to be Chief?

“It’s fucking tough because there are real responsibilities. It’s not honorary. I am in constant communication with my people there about the needs of the people in the village, the needs of the school, the well-being of the president. I told my wife (Jenisa) that I cannot be the chief I think I am without my Queen. She’s a huge supporter.”

So while the work in rebuilding a nation is never easy or simple, finding the right vehicle to support such efforts can be a challenge. To this end, The Gondobay Manga Foundation was born out of sheer determination and hard work to do just that — rebuild Sierra Leone. It  advocates cooperative planning to achieve positive, timely improvements in the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.  So far the results are stellar, a new school where there was none prior. The Chief Foday Golia Memorial School in the Njala Kendema village serves 300 students in grades K-5 and still there is more to do. There are ongoing efforts to raise awareness and attract investors to the country and to help rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. It’s no small task to secure financial and political support for such an undertaking but Washington is clear about his purpose.

“Mother Africa is the birthplace of all humanity, globally. Why are we allowing her to be treated this way?   More importantly as African Americans and people of African descent why are we so slow to return to her? I mean, with the benefit of all of our collective  Ph.D’s, MBAs and CPAs that we fought so hard to get…and now in this recession we (African Americans) cannot even find a job in America. Why not take that innovation and couple it with the people of West Africa.”

Since 2006, Washington has made several trips to the continent and says, “I came back (to the USA) having more affirmation knowing that Tarzan is not white, it’s just a film,  European man blinds himself. That is a lie.” I was very clear when I got back that I have to do something to let my people know, not just African American people but all people, that we must treat our first mother (ecologically speaking), mother Africa with more respect. Now is the time.

Isaiah Washington, the man truly from another land but a brother for all time. My exclusive conversation continues with Mr. Washington sharing his thoughts about Hollywood, his future, his legacy, and how he stays in such good shape.

Click the links  to see how you can support The Gondobay Manga Foundation and buy your copy of A Man from Another Land.


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  2. felinell

    September 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    ilove mr. Washington. i greatly admire him for his deep conviction and love for his motherland. i am inspired by his works and his efforts to unite all African-American to work towards a better Africa.I know it is still a long work towards equality of all human, but his works would pave a better way for all. Long live Africa and its people!

  3. Colin Thompson

    September 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Isaiah this is Colin Thompson I would like for you to get in touch with me…….get my number from Tony this is very important thank you and one love………..

  4. Kazi

    September 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    One of my fav actors. His characters where/are always real brothers, no stereotype one dimensional bull. Can’t wait to read the next installment.

  5. Yonni Butler

    September 28, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Wonderful interview! I highly respect and appreciate Mr. Washington’s well diverse acting abilities; he’s one of my favorite! And now that I’m reading his book “A Man from Another Land,” I’m forced to “pull the lens back” to view and admire this brother on an all-inclusive level. He’s a great writer, he’s funny, he’s emotional, he’s a hard-worker, he’s passionate, and he has an undying love for the continent and the people of Mother Africa! I am very much inspired by his work in Africa and I look forward to doing similar work in the country where I’m genetically linked (Bubi tribe of Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea)!

    One of my favorite quotes (of course) in his book is on page 66. He writes; “I know that from America to the Motherland, black women are truly goddesses and a force of nature.” I smiled and re-read that sentence a few times as I thought about the beauty, love, and strength of my mom, aunts, grandmother, and the many African American female history-makers. I thank God “DNA has memory!”

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading part 2…

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