Saturday, October 24, 2009

Down in the Jungle

Don't we all hate the way Africa is perceived? Sometimes I wonder whether we are the cause of this perception. There is a continent that wants to search for water in the moon by shooting some sort of probe into it and has even gone as far as showing pictures of possible lakes in Mars. But here in Africa we are pleased to show some volunteers launching a borehole in a village to a huge crowd of happy dancing folk. We are always dancing, flashing white teeth or wiggling our butts to the drums for something that should be our right in the first place.

When you travel abroad you find all these books on Africa, don't even get me started on the questions, that make Africa look/sound like one big country as opposed to a continent. Lets imagine a young guy who wants to move somewhere sunny - lets call him Dick and his last name could be Hedd......if you wish. Dick glances through these books and is lit with the kind of excitement only generated by some illegal drug.

He looks at the happy dancing, half dressed village folk in the traditional attire. There are no boring pictures of modern buildings with miserable dark dressed people filing in and out of offices like in every other country. Dick see zebras and wilderbeests moving around in vast expanse of lush land and half naked women carrying fruit baskets and balancing water pots on their head. Africa certainly begins to look like one big game reserve.

Dick decides to do some more reading and discovers Africa's vast resources. The list of the resources is endless and spread around in supposed vast reserves just underneath the earth. Now the guy who has been on unemployment benefits for over a year begins to think "Hey, I could find a banana boat and sail to Africa across to wild Africa! As soon as I arrive, all I have to do is dig up some fresh gold, since it is clear in these pictures that these Africans do not know what to do with the massive wealth resources lurking beneath them" But not so fast pilgrim, he thinks after his seventh beer; he needs more information. So Dick heads to the nearest cyber cafe he finds to his shock that Africa is also replete with the big C, Corruption, and the big D, Dictators. So before he heads down to Africa he must take into consideration that he may, as one of the few foreigners to brave the dark jungle of Africa, have to confront the evil dictator who also roams the land free and unhindered plundering it off its resources.

But Dick has no fear, as his parole officer will confirm. These books have made him an adventurer at heart. Africa is his to conquer like that chap "Vasco da Columbus". He has saved 300 bucks, which according to the exchange rate, is one billion African money. Dick gets so excited he scares off his girlfriend Trish who does not want to go Africa because Africa has mosquitoes as big as her hand and strange undiscovered diseases in the air.

Dick finally gets to the land of Africa via airplane (the first time he almost drowned in his banana boat). All his perceptions of Africa changes when he arrives with his one way ticket. The country he has landed in is like his in many ways, and the only perception that remains true is that the people sure dance a lot. So being broke and homeless, he dances too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Christa,
Life, for all of us, is hard enough; one day you will appreciate the smiling and dancing of Kenyans. Don't let the smile, or the dance, fool you; some of these dancers hold college degrees, and advanced degrees. And, believe it or not, there are good people in the Kenyan government; although far and few between, there are some. As with any country, there are always good and bad people. It is your mission to weed out those who do not mirror who you are.
Through your pictures, a story comes alive. Continue to take your photos, for they tell what you cannot. And in hindsight, be cautious about that which you write; you do not want it to haunt you, when you continue to rise up the corporate/government ladder. You are a college graduate, and with that is a responsibility to represent your institution, in a positive light, as one of their alumni. I am advising you, as if I were your mother, which I am old enough to be; because we know where we have been, but we do not know where we are going in the future. Our roads, unfortunately, have already been charted, whether we like it or not. So, if one day, you become an ambassador, some things are better not said, or thought aloud.
Nice chatting with you, again.
Janell Richison

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