Saturday, May 23, 2015

What do you envision when you think of Africa?

     Before I came to sub-Saharan Africa I pictured open plains with roaming wildlife and since I was coming here to help people my mind was full of images of children with extended bellies eating some kind of white stuff with their hands.

     I think this is what most Americans think of when they envision the African continent.

     There are open plains, but most of the animals are found in parks in Zambia. I'd have to go on a safari to see lions, wildebeests, and hippos.

     The people? Yes, there are hungry and malnourished children, but there are also educated and skilled people who live here, as well.

     Zambia is changing rapidly. Half the population live in rural areas, but the other half live in cities and suburbs. Because it is an African country most of the people who live in Zambia are black, or I'd rather say, have darker colored skin because the sun is so powerful near the equator; the darker skin color adds protection from the intense sunlight. White people live here, too, but they are a minority.

    So, now envision city sidewalks crowded with people in suits and dresses on their way to or from work or my village with the amazingly intelligent and driven native Africans who work hard to make a difference through the NGO they work for. Not only that, but also the skilled farmers who work very hard growing food for the nation.

     My pre-image of Africa has changed, and I hope yours does, too. I am glad for the development and opportunities that are being offered to these people. But, don't forget the other images of ancient cultures of a people who still maintain their tradition of herding livestock, hunting and gathering, and dressing as they always have since the earlier years; those people still exist, as well.

     My job isn't only to help those in need. My job is also to learn about the world and have a better understanding of it and in turn have a better understanding of myself. This world is ever evolving and I am privileged to be somewhat evolving along with it.


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