Africa: The Generalization

This morning, during a chat with my friend in Sudan she pointed out while reading my The Itch post, she noticed my generalization when I said that I missed 'Africa' as if it were one country or a particular place like just Kapoeta.

Later this afternoon while browsing the blog world, I came across a new one called Stuff African People Hate and in particular this post 'Africa is Not a Country' which struck a cord after my morning conversation.

As I was telling my friend this morning, I was very conscious of the generalization that I was making in stating that I missed 'Africa' or that 'Africa' was 'quiet.' I guess the best way for me to explain it is that for me, 'Africa' refers not to a particular place, but a summation of my experiences in the various countries, and the hopes and dreams of mine that I associate with the continent as a whole. When I think of Africa being 'quiet' I think about my time in Kapoeta when I could hear millions of birds chirping throughout the day, or awaking in on top of a hill after camping all night in Kenya, or hearing the waves from a hotel bed in Mozambique. Those are some of the memories that come up when I'm sitting in a loud crowded plaza in Manhattan.

The same is true when I feel I'm missing 'Africa.' I'm missing the little bar on at the Junction with lukewarm beers and sitting on my friend's porch just chatting at night. I miss the excitement of taking a trip to a part of Sudan I hadn't seen before, or going to Chukudum and Nagishot and listening to someone explain farming techniques to me or naming insects that destroy the crops or insects that only come out certain times of the year and are edible (white ants). I also miss sitting on my friends balcony in Nairobi and listening to the random thoughts of her kids, or just the excitement that came with going to Nairobi after months in Sudan. I miss the vacations I took with friends, walking through the streets of Zanzibar, laying on a sail boat on Christmas day in Vilankulos just laughing for friends, or listening to live music in Maputo and watching my friend try to convince the band to come to Nairobi to perform (btw, she DIDN'T speak Portuguese). I also miss fantasizing about moving to Maputo or shopping in Cape Town or learning how to sail a dhow or finally visiting West Africa. It isn't that those fantasies have died now that I've returned, it's just that they get mixed up (or lost) in other fantasies and plans like spending New Years in Puerto Rico, visiting friends in Mexico, going to Colombia, deciding what city to live in, etc.

Anyway...I'm rambling so I'll stop now since this has gotten a lot longer than planned plus it's making me nostalgic for AFRICA! :)

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