Wednesday, May 16, 2007

going to africa in my mind....

Out in the backyard is a red mess... the bricks from the tannery have been crushed by the weight of the construction (destruction?) vehicles. It's been spread and laid out baking in the sun, swimming in the rain.... smelling of clay and dust.

There's a road that runs beside the tannery, red field on the right, green trees on the left.... It's filled with potholes... the potholes are developing potholes....

.... And if I squint just right, and tilt my head so I don't see the house at the end of the street... I can pretend I'm in Africa while I bump down the street....


This might be long... but if you sighed reading the above, it's meant for you....


You know you're from Africa when/ or you should be when.......
it doesn't seem right to pay the asking price on anything in a store. If you can't barter for it, it's not worth having....you're appalled that American grocery stores only sell one or two different types of bananas....your parents yell at you for forgetting to use silverware in public....you're going to visit your Grandparents and take you passport ~ just in case you have to evacuate....you find all the non-white people on campus so you can be a minority again....you can lead a 20 minute conversation starting with "walleponaua!!" and keep it going by replying "ehh" in numerous different tone-levels for the next half an hour! (...and have the other person exactly understand what you are saying!!)...you fear for you life while riding in a Matatu....anywhere!...you call everyone older then you uncle or aunt....you'd rather be barefoot and you know that the bloody gooey mess they call beef jerky in the States would never pass for true biltong....every toothpaste is colgate....every soap is surf....every softdrink is coca cola or fanta....you have uncles and aunts who are younger than you....black outs are nothing new to you....no running water for a day is just another ordinary thing...40 degrees is cold....You can do your monthly shopping on the pavement....four cars are driving parallel to each other on a one-lane road....The smell of freshly rained on mud paths/tarmac is comforting....being an hour late equals being "on time"...you get car sick cuz the roads just can't have enough potholes!... you pass by someones house and you know what they gonna have for dinner cuz u can pretty much see and/or smell what's cooking...you can bribe a cop and get away with it!...you have an over whelming urge to wash all your salad in milton (baby bottle bleach, supposedly kills cholera) and add a bit of charcoal to your milk just to get the taste your used to....You know that the police isn't always the safest place to go when you're in trouble....Cramming 7 passengers in a 4 passenger taxi is really not a big deal....you know never to question what you're eating (even if it does taste good), cuz sometimes you just don't want to know....you invite people for a get together at 7 and they all come at 9....football is played with some sort of ROUND ball and WITHOUT hands....everyone in your country plays soccer....you cram 24 people into a 14 passenger matuatu and have never felt closer to your African friends....you make friends with the local Shepard and know the goats by name....carry purell like it's your life supply....you spent countless hours shining your shoes when u know very well that by the time you get to the taxi stop, they'll be covered in unbelievable dirt!...you keep converting the value of things in your home currency when u see the dollar value....a plane flies by and you just cant help but look up!... you have another name in your home language.... you hate American corn, because it's never hard enough.... you've drunk real chai, not this coffeeshop stuff. (AMEN!)...you remember being so confused about how you could pay for something with a visa....you know you are from Africa when you have put Vaseline in your hair to be like your African friends..and your Mom has to take it out with OMO and Kerosene!...you expect people to tell you they're fine before you ask them...you used to shower under the rain....someone is riding their bike down the road with corrugated iron strapped width wise across the back of the bike and its taking up more than half of the road....you miss rain on a corrugated iron roof; it's so loud you have to shout to be heard....you've been proposed to while walking down the street (if you're a girl, that is, lol)...you know what true hospitality and generosity is...when those who have almost nothing still welcome you in with open arms and are willing to share everything they have with you - even though they barely know you!...someone asks you how much your sister costs....your brother tries to sell you to his college roommate for 36 cows or goats......You unwrap all your gifts carefully, so that you can reuse the wrapper....You call a person you've never met before uncle or aunt....more than 90% of the music CD's and cassettes in your home are illegal copies....you have almost always carry overweight baggage when traveling by plane....Nobody in your family informs you that they are coming over for a visit....You only make telephone calls at a cheaper rate at night...You never have less than 20 people to meet you at the airport or see you off even if it is a local flight....someone offers seven cows for your infant sisters future hand in marriage....you learn the native words for "white person" everywhere you go, because you hear it shouted everywhere you go....something that would normally take half an hour in the Western world takes a few days or weeks...and if it didn't it just wouldn't be fun....you find it completely natural to have burglar-bars outside your windows...you know the DSTV channels by heart...you known not to question the contents of your food when it tastes good...you bought your cellphone through your car window...chicken is a luxury...you wonder why there aren't any herds of cows and goats walking down the street in North America...you can smell the rain before it comes...you can look up at the sky and see every star clearly...the sunset is something to look forward to...you miss the the sound of rain on your tin roof at night, the after-rain smell, and the spectacular lightning shows....the only thing you throw away is avacado stones, and even then you wonder if you should save them and plant a tree...every white thing you own has permently turned a curious shade of orange...everywhere you walk children run up to you shouting, 'how are you! how are you, how are you?' mzungu! mzungu!...You spend as little time as possible in the toilet, and can hold your breath for amazing lengths of time....you always drink your drink straight away in front of the shop, and give them the bottle back....you spray 'Doom' in your tent before going to bed....when americans tell you that the "chai" you're drinking isn't real because it's not indian, and they think it's tea with milk. it's milk with tea......you´re NOT in Africa and you miss everything everybody else mentioned so much it hurts....you dream about Africa - a lot. ....you think of giving up trying to convince people of what it´s really like - even though they really do try, they often just don´t understand.... you expect to be able to buy roast corn, fried meat or fish, boiled yams or cassava etc whilst you are travelling on public transport....having mud-orange feet is normal.

3 comments:

Sarahthedoula said...

*sigh*

Lisa said...

Amen. I miss it. But it get to go back in... 63 days!!! =D

manda said...

boi, I will miss you greatly, but I feel you need to go back. Its in your heart, and you should always follow your heart.