After three weeks in Africa, my head is still full of thoughts, and that doesn’t happen often. And why is it happening this time? Because Africa has wide opened my eyes and I would like to write an article that I hope will make you think about that matter too.
I don’t want to moralize and teach in any way how we should value what we have, but I just want to write my thoughts that have been on my mind for quite a while now.
We all see how it looks like in Africa in TVs and we all know very well that poverty is a key issue. I was aware of that before I went there, but what I saw was something totally different from what I was expecting.
I feel that when people see it on TV and on the internet, they say it’s sad, but they don’t really think about it, because they don’t relate to it. But I was right there, in the middle of all this, and I have to say that it’s different to see it with my own eyes.
I saw how people live. In a mess and dust. They sleep on the ground. None of the houses has windows, and each one looks like it’s gonna fall down at any moment. They walk barefoot and beg for water. That’s reminding me of an experience I will never forget. When we left the national park, there were small kids at each speed bump, and when the car slowed down they hung up on a side mirror and asked for something to eat and some water. Not money as I first thought. What I won’t forget is the look in their eyes, because it said it all. We in Europe are deciding whether we get a cappuccino or latte in Starbucks and these kids are wondering if they survive till the next day.
I can’t understand how nowadays there can be such huge differences between the civilized world and Africa. None of these people have television, computers, internet, sometimes phones. The only thing they care about is whether they survive till the next day. If some of the tourists give them some water.
They watch their cattle & goats all day (if they have any). Do you understand that? That’s the only thing they do all day. All life. No school, no movie theatres, no parties, no holidays, no traveling, no nothing. They just sit under a tree and stare into the emptiness every day.
On the other hand, I realized something else. Almost nobody works there and they stand on a street all day and wait until help falls into their laps. They’re waiting for the white people to buy a Coca-Cola in their store. To give them money. I realized Africa would never be better because none of them wants to work. No one is trying to make a better life. They all just wait for humanitarian aid to come, and they don’t even try. And the problem is that the help from “us” always comes, so why should they try. That’s why I think that all non-profit organizations and humanitarian aids have absolutely no sense because they won’t teach them to take care of themselves, they won’t teach them to work and to educate themselves because they don’t want to.
The day before we left for Zanzibar, we dared to sneak out of the hotel and go to a market. We were definitely the only white people in the whole town who were out there. I couldn’t ignore all the looks they were giving us. No one smiled at us, and their faces said: “Go back to Europe, you have nothing to do here.” One lady even threw an onion at me and frowned. Well, we gave it up and returned quickly to the hotel.
Anyways, in my life, I have never come into contact with such a different culture. But I realized a lot of things. We really should to appreciate what we have, even though we sometimes complain that we don’t have this and that. But guys, I was there and I saw what it meant to not have something. Actually, to have nothing.