Someone asked me today, “You really love it there, don’t you”, echoing a question I have been asked repeatedly since I came home. This picture, posted on facebook by my friend Christian, seems to sum up the answer to a question I have been asking myself. “Why Africa”? Christian should know. He is a product of Africa.
The words that draw the picture are hard to read so I have copied them for you, perhaps it will give you a glimpse of the Africa I see. I decided to set it to some pictures. They are the Africa I have seen, taken through my eyes. Perhaps they will answer the question.
|Akobo Hospital, not enough beds for all the patients|
The real Africa is the one they never show you. The real Africa is hidden beneath a veneer of poverty and hunger and death; a cancerous mass on the face of the earth that the rest of the world term homogenous “Africa”.
|Street scene in the market,|
Malakal, South Sudan
The real Africa is submerged under corruption and greed, underneath tyranny and ostentatious elite, underneath the faces of the people they cannot feed.
|Akobo, South Sudan|
The real Africa is buried under shanty towns rife with dirt and disease where children are forced to grow up much too quickly to survive. The real Africa is concealed under a no man’s land of desert, bare and dry, unable to sustain green and healthy life.
|sunset in Malakal|
No, that is not the real Africa. The Africa I know. The Africa that is reflected in the warm sunshine you can feel burning inside you.
Akobo displaced people's camp
The Africa that shines from a warm, spontaneous smile.
|Addis mountain trip|
The Africa that is sky high mountains, of tropical jungle,
of golden sand dunes and lush green grassland.
|Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
The Africa that is the heart of different peoples, different languages, different cultures, different identities, all who cal this land their home.
The and where moyo muti unomera pauno; where roots take hold and don’t let go, solid as the baobab tree that has always been and will always be there, standing and steady against the menaces of time.
|Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Juba, South Sudan|
My Africa is where my heart resides even when I am long gone and far away, where my mind drifts to across the distances of a never-ending ocean.
|Akobo air strip|
The real Africa can be smelled the minute you step off a plane onto the soil and feel the air calling you and beckoning you home.
|on the road, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
The real Africa is the chaos and the calm that exist side by side as honking cars zoom past on roads that run parallel to cows grazing peaceably in a field.
|location of my new home in Akobo|
This is the real Africa they never show. This is the place I call home.