“You can leave Africa, but Africa won’t leave you.”
That’s what the high-powered executive told me after I mentioned my upcoming trip to Kenya. He spent three years in Africa teaching English when he was in his early twenties. He never said what it was about Africa that makes it not leave you, but I expect he might not know.
That was on Wednesday night.
Today I saw a friend’s Facebook post that Africa was calling him to return, Liberia specifically.
I’ve visited sunny beaches and shantytowns around the world and, I must admit, it’s the beaches that tend to call for my return. (Oh Na Pali coast of Kauai, how I long for you!) Sure, I’ll never forget the dump I visited in Cambodia, but I have no desire to return.
While in Bangladesh, Bibi Russell — fashion model/designer/UN Envoy/living saint — told me that “Beauty lies in Poverty,” forever changing the way I saw the world and leading to this paragraph in Where Am I Wearing:
The world we come from seems to be less real in comparison to Bangladesh . A child’s laugh when surrounded by our modern luxuries isn’t as beautiful as Arifa’s daughter’s on a sultry day where hunger wakes her before the heat. A mother’s smile while chopping veggies on the floor seems more genuine than an American mother’s while dishing out mac ’n cheese onto an Elmo plate. Nothing—a smile, a laugh, not even a single pair of underwear—is taken for granted.
Beaches can be beautiful, but so can people. Is this what calls for the executive and my friend to return?
I’ll be spending much of my time in the slums of Kibera. Here’s a video to give you an idea what it’s like.
There are flying toilets! This video hits you hard enough without the smell, and from the looks of things the smell must really be something. Does this look like a place that you would want to visit once, let alone return to again and again?
When I leave Africa, will Africa NOT leave me?
I’ll find out in 50 days.
If you’re interested in joining the cause and getting your name in the credits in a documentary about Kibera visit www.heldhostagebyapathy.com.