Elephant in the Room

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“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Sontag

I thought this was the perfect journal to take to Tanzania with me considering the irony that Africa was never on my list.

Africa was the giant, awkward elephant on the map that everyone felt, but I never wanted to acknowledge. She’s intimidating. All of her stories of beauty crumbled in the presence of her other stories: disease, witchcraft, possessions. Honestly, Africa only made me think of one thing–darkness.

I didn’t feel ready to come face-to-face with those realities. I’m still scared of bumps in the night. When the time came for me to choose a place for my internship I searched all over South America, Asia, and considered staying stateside, anywhere but Africa. But you can’t run away from your fears, you always end up running right into them.

I ran and hit hard into Tanzania, even harder into Zanzibar.

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Zanzibar is not the Africa most people picture. Explaining Zanzibar will take a whole other blog post. It feels like an entirely different world. A world I had to learn fight to love. I took many punches and left with bruises, but I don’t think I lost the fight. If I had lost I would’ve said screw Zanzibar as I boarded onto my plane back home, but instead of cursing her under my breath, I wept.

I wept for my students.

I wept for my friends I met in town.

I wept for the land that has so little workers.

To be frank, I don’t know how to end this post. I can keep rambling on and on of how I didn’t choose Africa and it’s because I’m infinitely thankful that it chose me.

Africa ended up staying true to it’s stories: I left with an odd disease of weeping for a people I used to consider dangerous; despite the frustration I had with the education I system I continued to go to class and teach to the best of my ability as if I was under witchcraft; and now my once dark view of Africa has been possessed into seeing its light. Overall, she is beautiful, but my heart and perspective had to change to see it.

Zanzibar is the elephant in the room and she’s definitely worth acknowledging. 

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