(Like White African, I don’t usually take part in blog memes. Unlike White African, it’s usually because I don’t get an invite. ;o) But that aside, I’ve recently read a number of posts by eminent African bloggers in the current “Why I Blog About Africa” series and have been inspired by what they’ve written. That @ksjhalla recently invited me to the table came as something of a surprise. Here goes my contribution)
“To be honest, I feel like something of an imposter gatecrashing a party. Unlike many of the bloggers taking part in this meme, I can lay no claim to be African, or half-African, or even remotely African. Maybe the fact that the continent has tried to take my life on more than one occasion gives me some claim to take part? Or the fact that I’ve been captivated by the geography, the cultures, the wildlife, the opportunity, the hope and above all the people I have met and befriended since my first encounter back in 1993? Having no physical connection with Africa other than that gained by long haul air travel, I’ve regularly asked myself what it is that draws me back to it so often, both in person and in writing. Answering this question without calling on well-trodden cliches is quite a challenge.
After all, it would be all too easy to overplay any ‘spiritual’ connection (as happened with the peculiar “I am African” campaign, pictured), or one drawn out of sympathy for a continent in turmoil, or a people condemned to a life of poverty and a strong Western-held view that “Africa needs to be saved”. But that’s not the Africa I know, least of all the Africa I’ve witnessed on many of my travels over the past fifteen years and, above all, not the Africa that many of my African friends see.
If I were honest, my interest and fascination in Africa came about at a time in my life when I was desperately trying to find my way. If I were to be allowed one cliche, it would be that Africa found me. Shear chance took me to Zambia in the summer of 1993, and since then I’ve allowed luck, circumstance and events on the continent to determine my direction. It is pure coincidence that almost all of the conservation and development projects I have worked on have been in Africa – Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon and Zimbabwe among them. And I feel truly honoured to have experienced cultures, friendships and a way of life I could never have dreamed of a decade or more ago.
I blog about Africa because I see a continent blessed with cultural and natural beauty, a continent working hard to lift itself from troubled beginnings, and the rise of a new breed of African leader with a deep devotion and love for what their country, and the continent, means to them. I blog about Africa because in it I see many of the good things that the West has lost or chosen to throw away, and because I am blessed to count many hard working and devoted Africans among my friends. I also blog about Africa because that’s where I continue to be called and because, one summer back in 1993, it somehow came in search of me”.
Thanks again to Kaushal for tagging me (read his thoughts here). Continuing the theme, I tag the following: