Monday, February 21, 2011

“Africa”

The most frequently asked question of missionaries to Africa of all time is: “How is Africa?”

I cannot answer that question. You mean, “Uganda,” right? I can’t tell you that, either. Only I and those I met in Africa can I answer for. Johannesburg has not shown me her streets. Kampala, well, she’s a hostile city far, far away.

Jinja, at least the small part of my experience, is fine. Well, not that I’ve ever seen it better. If you were to walk the streets of Jinja, you’d probably think to walk Main Street first. Well, don’t. Not if you want to know how Jinja really is. Not that I’m telling you to walk the back roads, but how about one that leads next to the Market? You’ll see, people are busy. But, they live, even on the road between the destinations.

If I think about the differences between America and Uganda, the biggest is how and if people look at each other. You go to any big city anywhere, and nobody’s looking at anybody. Just doesn’t happen. But, in The Dalles, you still didn’t look at anyone, unless you knew them from HAVING to look at them before. Nothing against TD, it’s a good town, but I’m just saying. In Jinja, people look at each other. Whether it’s staring at the Mzungus, or just walking down the street, no one’s afraid to let their eyes be seen. Well, most people. it’s uncomfortable to us Americans at first, but now, as I think, I like it. In America, to be looked at by strangers meant you probably had something wrong with you. The coffee cup was on the roof again, or you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Here, it’s perfectly natural—even a bit expected. Here, to not stop and ask, “How are you?” is rude. To not stop and answer, “I am fine,” is to say, “I am having a REALLY bad day.” And I like these things.

Yes, the roads are dirty. Yes, there’s people that are in dire need. Yes, it’s terrible. But there are lessons to be learned both ways. To “Americanize” this country would be to demolish so much we need as humans. No, they don’t always respect the aspect of time. No, they don’t always say they’re “good.” But that’s okay, and it’s something I’ve learned from them, as well.

The Bible says none of us are, “good,” young lady. I ask again, how are you?

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Janae, with some thought-provoking thoughts. :)

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