Our Africa

The world sees Africa as exotic.

It’s heat. It’s safari. It’s a clash of the sky throwing up sunsets of oranges, pinks and red.

It’s wildebeest thundering the earth of the Mara. Lions in the savannah.

A coffee-table, picture-book portrayal

It’s maasai and their shuka’s.

It’s tribes living in the bush, a simpler way of life.

Or it’s poverty. Children with swollen stomachs, ribs protruding, flies swarming.

Women tramping miles in harsh conditions to carry water.

Women breaking their backs to work while the men sit at home and squander the money. Sitting plumply enjoying his many wives chasing for his every need.

The world sees Africa as disease and famine and war. Child soldiers and warlords. Corruption, dictatorship and bribery.

A true portrayal?

And for me? My Africa? My Africa looks like this:

My Africa is mzungu, mzungu, how are you?! Owarooo?! Give me! Give me! Give me!

My Africa is glimpses of poverty that rip me to the core, yet challenge and inspire me too.

It’s my slum-walking, flip-flop-slapping, matatu-dashing, kids-playing, people-talking world

It’s adventure and excitement. Life.

And yet it’s also escapes from that intensity, it’s taking a break, escaping to Naivasha or shuttling down to Mombasa – Mash Poa – for sun, sea and sand.

It’s senses overload. Poverty alongside riches.

It’s far from home. It’s broken skype-calls, emails and much treasured, waited for post. Yet my Africa is home too. It’s home too. It’s home far from home.

And it’s tiring. It’s a constant clash of culture, as I try to figure out where I fit in in a place where my heart says I belong yet my skin colour says no.

My little portion. My little world in your vast land.

Your vast land

And how do you see it? Do you ever stop to think about your Africa? The stereotypes people put on you? The way the world examines you, labels you, judges you as they look through the looking-glass.

Or do you just walk, living the everyday humdrum of life unaware to think of things that seem so trivial in the day to day struggle of life?


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