Why Does Africa So Grip My Soul?
Sudan, Tanzania, Egypt and Kenya have strong grips on my heart. And whenever I hear or read anything Africa-related media-wise, such as the sad case of a hopeful immigrant to Canada from Eritrea committing suicide when our country would not accept him or when I think of my German friend Sigi serving with his military in Mali, my chest tightens and I hold my breath. When I read stories on Facebook of friends working in Juba, Southern Sudan, or serving in areas where I worked as UN military observer in southern Sudan, I get the strong urge to get back to that wonderful continent. Friends working at our favourite safari lodge Beho Beho in the Selous range of south east Tanzania, send photos of the incredible wildlife and I want to pack my bags RIGHT NOW! Why, I wonder? Africa is more than a place of wonderful memories and great photos. It is something deep and visceral. It is addictive. Absolutely no one I know who has been to that continent has not become addicted to it. It burrows its way into your soul. It consumes you. It is emotional. You can feel it and touch it . . . . . And it is not merely visual. When you step off the airplane in any African country, the unique smell of the place is overwhelming – not to be duplicated anywhere else in the world. Africa is the land of huge smiles amongst great poverty. It is this contradiction that I cannot wrap my head around. Here in the West, in Canada at least, we have huge frowns amongst great wealth! What gives?