It was another afternoon around town, from a market we visited to get those beautiful quirky materials – chitenge, if I spell it right. It was hot, alright. The windows in the taxi were rolled down, and I let the wind mess with my hair. I wanted to take it all in, because I was supposed to be flying away soon.
“Africa gets in your blood” an old man said. He was sitting in the front, looking straight ahead. It was unusually quiet for a taxi ride in Zambia, but he must’ve noticed my sad smile. That’s all he really said to me, the most he addressed me. He didn’t really say goodbye when he got down, didn’t offer a comforting smile like most people would, didn’t even turn around to look at the girl he simply threw some wise words at.
Africa gets in your blood, it does. It doesn’t touch your soul or win you heart, oh no. That is what any other beautiful place would do. Africa, it becomes a part of you. Africa makes you cry sometimes, and it gives me an adrenaline rush almost everyday. You will stop in your tracks to look at the flowers in Africa, or you might just end up playing football with random kids. Oh, the high-fives you’ll get. You’ll probably end up with a ton of myths and legends, and even more soveniers, because each of them signifies everything that Africa is.
Hell, you’ll want to yell at Africa sometimes. What is even happening with their politics, and why are the people not on the streets already? But then you’ll see the mother who is only trying to feed her three children and get themselves through another day. And you’ll also see the Mzungu (like myself) trotting their privilege around. And just then, you’ll see all the warmth and the affection the locals will shower on you. They will ensure you don’t go hungry, or aren’t lost, or that some heckler isn’t ripping you off.
The sheer vibracy will send you trippin’. And the fools, the fools who generalise the cultures across countries, let alone the entire continent! Every day, you’ll hear a new language, come across new traditions, see from more perspectives. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’ll be more.
A few weeks isn’t enough to know Africa. A lifetime isn’t enough to even begin to understand Africa. Maybe the greatness of Africa lies in its ever so increasing complexity, the intertwining of so many intriguing and strange and even awfully normal things. Maybe, the beauty of Africa is never ever really understanding it. But I promise you, it’s worth it when you try.
And so, this Mzungu isn’t going to give up anytime soon. You’ve mesmerised me, Africa, you’ve gotten into my blood. You’re part of me. And everyday, I long for you.
Until I can have the privilege to emerse myself in you all over again, Africa.