Goodbye Africa. Here’s to the sweat-soaked hankerchiefs and straw hats, the unending heat, the ubiquitous dirt. Here’s to mud brick houses and tea over coals. Here’s to hours spent sitting and saying almost nothing. Here’s to simplicity. Here’s to laughter and abandon.
With you I learned to cut a chicken’s throat and cook it. With you I lay under the divinest of rains. Enclosed by your heat and wrapped in my isolation, I spilled a lifetime of tears on your soil. You taught me patience, though I was an unwilling pupil. You stripped me bare, though I always sought thick skin. With you I found poetry in life.
I went to find poverty and pain, and you showed me community and laughter. I went to pay hommage, and you showed me my narcissism. I went to learn, and you showed me how to love.
Oh how I hated you, when everywhere I walked the color of my skin made me different, when the heat bade insanity to creep slowly up my spine, when I felt my wasted life ticking by in innumerable seconds.
And oh how I loved you, when you let me harvest rice, when children actually came to class, when at last you told me I understood.
I’m sorry for my sudden partings. So much of my work was undone so quickly in those moments. How do you still welcome us when we only ever leave you to your fate or make a bad mess worse with our meddling?
You broke me, my dear Africa. You broke the careful consructions and left me only with a handful of heat-softened pieces.
Now I have to rebuild, and I find the dust of your desert ground into me, inseparable. My wounds bleed and my triumphs are lined red with your soil. I carry away from you new weaknesses and new strengths.
So this is goodbye, dear Africa, but this is not goodbye forever.