THE BOOK... COMING TO YOU IN 2012
“Real Africa. Go. Write your story for the world to read.”
The Voice concluded and slipped into the Silence it had appeared from.
In April 2002 I boarded a bus and headed off to Zambia. I had never been there before, knew nothing about the place, knew nobody who lived there, and carried no maps or traveler’s guides. All I had was my backpack of clothing, a Swiss army knife, a bunch of pens, a stack of empty pages and a childish faith in an Unseen Voice within me.
I left with enough cash for a year's travel, blew it all in the first 3 months, was an eight hour drive from the nearest phone, post office or electrical point, but landed up living in deep, rural and "Real" Africa for 4 years.
I met children
who had never seen a pair of shoes in their lives; who followed me everywhere
with songs and laughter, brought me cups of water before I knew I was thirsty,
and ran ahead of me to ensure that food was always waiting for me whenever I stopped to rest.
Elderly women would walk 5km at sunrise every day to gather wood into a heavy bundle they would carry on their heads for the return trip.
Little girls would set off to the river with 20litre containers to draw water so that when their Mother arrived, they could start boiling it for bathing and cooking.
Then there was Mr Chata, who had a huge chunk missing from his right thigh, when a crocodile took a bite out of him. And yet he still waded into that river every day to do the only thing he knew how – catch fish.
Or what about ‘The Lubengula’, who took his mother’s bicycle – the only property the family owned – to ride to Mozambique in search of gold, only to return 6 months later on foot with charcoal!
And then I woke up one day in a Zimbabwean hospital, unable to move, with a dull pain at the back of my head.
It’s a story I could never have imagined, being written by a Life greater than me.
A story reminding me that even though we look poor from the outside, in Africa we are wealthy with gifts far greater than money can afford.
Gifts of unity, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, Brotherhood, Sisterhood – True Community.
Gifts that no man or money has ever established, and which no man or money can ever destroy.