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Muthoni MpuriaCome closer. Come with me and sit under the great Baobab trees, next to the Acacia and let's talk. I have refreshments waiting there because I know we will thirst after all the words we must exchange. Do you have some time for an old friend?

We've been fighting for some time now and I want to elevate this conversation. It hurts to hear you speak the words you do, the way you do; rapid fire like bullets from a gun that's primed for ultra-war. I just want to hear your heart and hurt. I know you are hesitant, so I'll go first.

You see ... I know us Africans like to start with that phrase "you see" .... I left home so long ago that if I had a child back then, I would be a grandparent now. If I had some cash on me to invest back then, I would own several islands and maybe a country or two. But I didn't. I faced starvation and disease and not the physical kind either. You see ... there's nothing worse than disease, especially dis-ease of the mind and heart; the kind that make you lose hope that tomorrow can be a better day; the kind that makes you give up the joys you knew as a child because you've buried too many people that you love. I tell you, there's nothing like it.

So I packed my bags. Actually, I laugh because it was more like two suitcases of old clothes and second-hand shoes, my mother'sBaobab tree MKL favorite dress which she so generously let me have to say goodbye and my father's wisdoms. I donned my favorite outfit which consisted of items I had purchased from the upper-class second hand market and boarded that plane. We call it Aeroplane... you have to wrap your tongue around it but here it's an easy Airplane. Haidhuru. I won't regale you with the stories of all the things that happened to me, it is simply an immigrant's story. Especially one from the lower part of Africa, what the scientists have preferred to call Sub-Saharan Africa as though that makes us less respectably-African than those in the north. Or maybe that just means we are more prone to disease, conflict and abject poverty, whichever it is I am never sure. Either way, I figured it out. I came here to the USA seeking what others have often taken for granted; self-development and actualization.

Words are funny you know. Words like opportunity and economic development and "less than a dollar a day" all make me wonder what the real intentions are. Even the poorest amongst us here gets a pay-raise even if it's just a few pennies every year. But it seems that we from sub-Saharan Africa who live in abject poverty still have no chances of a pay raise in the eyes of the development experts because our living standards are still measured on the "less than a dollar a day". What I find funny about that though is how American investment firms have established successful businesses like coffee houses in Lagos, Nairobi and Banjul, how silky-tongued purveyors of Sheesha and all its paraphernalia are making money hand over fist in all the capital cities of poverty stricken Africa. And have you seen how African print dresses are selling like fresh bread with butter from all the "Afro-centric" owned stores in the malls? BTW do the buyers and sellers of these fantastical prints understand what they mean and where they come from?

Haidhuru. I can see your eyes are glazing over from all this talking I'm doing so I will leave off with this one last thought.

My love, do you remember when Ebola broke out in Liberia? I know no one has forgotten that incident easily. But we all remember it differently and for different reasons. You see ... there we go again ... I remember it this way: how many hours were dedicated to it in the media? If you wanted to be taken seriously as a National and International news and information purveyor, you had to cover that story 24/7. CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, NBC, ABC, even Joe's BC on FB covered it. We just had to know where the newest case was uncovered. We had to understand the vast history of this ailment that seems to plague only Sub-Saharan Africa. As though it is here the gods have decided to lay the worst of everything: poverty, conflict and now this disease that had no cure. It was worse than HIV/AIDS because for that we have ARVs. But for Ebola?

Did you ever see an African political or social or medical scientist on your American TV on any of the national media houses? I don't recall seeing a single one. It was almost always someone from the USA who is an African expert, who has studied Africa and Africans the same way that Microbiologists study pathogens in a sanitized lab setting.

Look. The sun is beginning to set. This is my favorite time of day. Here come the flock of birds looking for the insects that come out with the cooling of the air. Isn't it amazing how everything has a rhythm?

Tell me my Love, with all the PhDs we Africans from the "less than a dollar a day" countries have in the USA, why were we never on your television screens at the height of the Ebola crisis? We are after all the most educated population in the USA Considering that, and the fact that these events were occurring in our homes, why were we never on your screens to provide analyses and commentary? Maybe there was concern that our ability to communicate in English may leave viewers even more befuddled than before. I mean it doesn't matter that when papers have to be written by American University students, they look for Africans in Africa to research and write them and the American students make 'A's on these papers. Yes, it is my sisters from the formerly "Third world countries" who deliver these world class papers under the guise of uneducated peoples of the "Shithole countries".

Know this: words hurt you only to the extent you let them. You see, I have lived in that place you so well despise but have a deep fascination with its wildlife. I have drank from the fountain of truth. I know the truth about Africa. I know that we pioneered the electronic wallet and left the world awash in amazement that we who are "Third World" can innovate on such a level. So no! I am not hurt. I am not even tickled. What I am is least concerned which is why I have neither reacted to the words nor have I called a single politician demanding an explanation or retraction. I am simply amused by your reaction at the voicing of words I've heard since the day my Grandmother was forcibly removed from her hut while 8 months pregnant by the colonial government as part of a resettlement scheme. Yes, even then I heard those words.

Don't let my myriad and mysterious musings get to you. Enjoy the fresh milk. The evening meal will be ready soon.

While we wait, tell me, have you ever been to ANY country in Africa?

 Author: Muthoni Mpuria

 

 
    

 

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African Art, Curios, Batik & more…
Timberland Westlands Curio Shop
Westland's Triangle Market Parklands Road,
Opposite Sarit Center, Stall #72

VICTOR KARIUKI
P. O. Box 648, 00606
Sarit Center, Nairobi, Kenya
+254 722 945001

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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