you know you’re from Africa when . . .

May 10, 2010

After dinner this evening I picked up an MK Newsletter that had arrived this weekend and started flipping through. Once I had read only a few of the items in one rather lengthy article, I started chuckling. Then, since Lou had looked up from his own readings, and seemed curious enough—and since we were all still lingering there around the table—I began to read out loud. But suddenly, unexpectedly, my laughter had turned to tears. Here are a few of the truisms that stuck out to me: some because of how true they are to my own experience, some simply because they made me laugh, and some because they are as beautiful as the land about which they are written:
“You know you are from Africa when . . .”
• No running water for a day is just another ordinary thing.
• It doesn’t seem right to pay the asking price on anything without bargaining first.
• Someone asks you how much your sister costs.
• You miss rain on a corrugated iron roof where it’s so loud you have to shout to be heard.
• You visit your grandparents and take your passport—just in case you have to evacuate.
• American corn isn’t hard enough for you.
• You expect people to tell you they’re fine before you ask them.
• As a girl, you’ve been proposed to while walking down the street.
• You can lead a 20-minute conversation starting with “Walleponaua!” and keep it going by replying “ehh” in numerous different tone levels for the next half an hour! (and have the other person understand exactly what you’re saying!)
• Something that would normally take half and hour in the Western world takes a few days or weeks.
• Your journey is interrupted by herds of cows and goats on the road.
• You can smell the rain before it comes.
• The only thing you throw away are avocado stones, and even then you wonder if you should save them and plant a tree.
• You know that an umbrella is useless during the rainy season and simply accept the fact that you’ll be wet for 3 months . . . and really don’t mind.
• Your bed doesn’t seem right without a mosquito net.
• Tears well up in your eyes as you read this list, wishing you were back in Africa.

[adapted from “I’d rather be in Africa” ]

One Response to “you know you’re from Africa when . . .”

  1. Beth said

    I am curious. Did you live in Africa and if so which country. We will be going to Ethiopia in the next couple months, and possibly sooner, to bring home our daughter from Ethiopia.

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