tuesday, july 17. so i am no longer in the second poorest country in the world. instead, i’m sitting at the heathrow hilton lounge sipping the title beer that is apparently only available here, in probably one of the most expensive cities in the world. drastic change and a sobering depiction of imperialism.
so anyway, i managed to transport some african wildlife into london, because little bugs keep crawling out of my computer. i probably forgot to mention that while in africa, these little guys loved to congregate beneath the keys of my laptop. i hope i don’t start some sort of a pandemic here in the ‘civilized world.’ also, my B.O. reeks of cassava in this sterile environment. i had to duck into the bathroom to put on a new t-shirt and some deodorant.
so i have approximately another 5 hours before i can board my flight and thought i’d throw an update at ya’ll. i know i stopped at week five in pictures (by the way – does it take everyone an extrodorinary amount of time to load that blog?), and will get more up over the next month or so. the reason for this lapse in pictures is that paul dixon arrived at the YMCA and became the resident photographer, as he was in freetown to teach the art to kids there and is good at it. so i’m waiting to get all of his pics which are awesome.
so no sleeves bradman is picking me up from JFK later tonight around 11:30pm and we’re straightlining it back to the city of brotherly love, i seriously can’t wait. i can’t wait to skateboard. i can’t wait to see my friends. i can’t wait to be in my own bed. i can’t wait to see my cats. i can’t wait to not have my pores smell like african food grossly transformed by my bodily processes. i can’t wait to chill out until i return to work. i can’t wait to be home.
after being in london for a few hours, i realized how much i don’t know how to conduct myself ‘respectfully’ anymore. i found myself eating the hilton breakfast buffet like a maniac, i laughed out loud to myself, further enticing stares from the uppity observers. fuck em though, damn sausage tastes good after 2 months of nothing but leaves stewed over rice.
i guess that’s about it for now, i will leave you with some quotes from a book i read while over on the dark continent. it was written by ryszard kapuscinski, the first polish correspondant to report on africa. he arrived there in 1957 and spent the next 40 years traveling extensively around. his book is called ‘the shadow of the sun’ and i highly recommend it as a very applicable view into the inner workings of african culture, experiences traveling there, and hypotheses of progress, stagnation, and hope. enjoy and see you all soon hopefully.
about the civil war in sudan: “whoever has weapons, has food. whoever has food, has power. we are here among people who do not contemplate transcendence and the existence of the soul, the meaning of life and the nature of being. we are in a world in which man, crawling on the earth, tries to dig a few grains of wheat out of the mud, just to survive another day.”
about somalis not leaving their camels. he gives an example of finding half-dead men lying next to their camels, taking them to a rehabilitation camp, and later finding the men escaping the camp (where they get fed every day) to risk being with their animals without a secure source of food: “hamed is not surprised at this. ‘that is our nature,’ he says, without resignation, with a touch of pride even. nature is something one cannot oppose, attempt to improve, or free onself from. nature is decreed by god, and is therefore perfect. droughts, heat waves, empty wells, and death on the road also partake of that perfection. without them, man would be unable later to appreciate the true delight of rain, the heavenly taste of water, and the life-giving sweetness of milk. a beast would not be able to rejoice in the succulent grass, or relish the smell of a meadow. man would not know what it is to stand in a stream of cold, crystal-clear water. it would not even occur to him that this is simply to be in heaven.”
this is a quote from one of mengistu’s main men, who is now in prison, about his regime in ethiopia (mengistu was a very evil man, look him up): “history is an intricate process. it errs, advances and retreats, searches here, there, and sometimes gets trapped in a dead end. only the future can judge, can find the appropriate measure.”
about heinrich barth – a european traveler who explored the saraha circa 1850: “for five years he journeyed alone through the sahara, keeping a diary in which he described the desert. several times, sick and pursued by bandits, he bad his life farewell. dying of thirst, he would cut his veins and drink his own blood to survive. eventually he returned to europe, where no one appreciated the unique feat he had accomplished. bitter, worn out by the hardships of his voyage, he died in 1865 at the age of 44, not understanding that the human imagination is incapable of traveling to the frontier he had crossed in the sahara.”
about life in africa in general, in the last chapter of his book: “the african always feels endangered. nature on this continent strikes such monstrous and aggressive poses, dons such vengeful and fearsome masks, sets such traps and ambushes, that man lives with a constant sense of anxiety about tomorrow, in unabating uncertainty and dread. everything here appears in an inflated, unbridled, hysterically exaggerated form. if there is a storm, then the thunderbolts convulse the entire planet, the lightning tears the sky to shreds; if there is a downpour, then a veritable wall of water pours from the heavens, threating at any moment to drown us and pound us into the ground; if there is a drought, then it is one that does not leave a drop of water behind, and we die of thirst. there is nothing here to temper the relations between man and nature – no compromises, no in-between stages, no gradations. only ceaseless struggle, battle, a fight to the finish. from birth until death, the african is on the front line, sparring with his continent’s exceptionally hostile nature, and the mere fact that he is alive and knows how to endure is his greatest triumph.”