Few days before returning to Europe to recharge batteries, I let my body sink into a backdrop of thoughts, ideas and acquaintances from the first six months of the year.
After few short stints in the past I finally got a chance to see mother Africa trough Africa´s eyes, days turned into weeks and weeks into months until you become part of it.
Truly speaking the world seen from the south hemisphere is not much different from the north, except, I am afraid, when I am counting stars under a big dark sky.
But the world that lives under our skins is quite a different story, a bustling cocktail of emotions, perceptions and daily challenges, a story I would like to share in few lines.
When I close my eyes at night I see faces, I see smiles and tears, people walking into the some direction and people wondering lost. Millions silently screaming for something I cannot hear, it is a dream that repeats on and on.
Frustrated with questions that don’t have an easy answer, I dived deeper in my inner firmament where I could also see dreams and despair, love and hate (in equal proportions), happiness and sadness, all of that, wrapped in a metaphor of structural paradigms that are hard to understand and harder to break.
Besides the thermometer that insists not to go bellow 26c degrees at night, there is an abundance of true innocence, powerful faith and above our heads an incredible big blue sky with beautiful Baobab* Trees underneath our highest hopes.
Day after night, I go out to the world looking into the faces that cross my eyes, I don’t pretend to be looking somewhere else, I stop and stare, I say clearly with my eyes that I am listening and open to help. Most of times there is no feedback.
My Mom always told me to look straight because the eyes are the window to the soul (which I can confirm every time I look myself in the mirror), but what I have seen around is quite different from my previous experiences.
The “windows” here seemed to be closed, which for me was the most dramatic finding I experienced in Africa, the oxigen between two people on a normal conversation can become thin and rare, one more question without an easy answer.
I am not a specialist on the matter, but I will give it a try to make an educated guess.
The change the continent seems to be waiting for, is the one that eyes can only grasp a glimpse, you will need to use other senses, starting with your heart.
More than progress, consulting analysts that measure the visible number of new buildings and the increasing of a region GDP, it takes love to see it.
And what do I see?
I see fire…
A burning desire for equity and opportunities, hunger for education, curiosity for information, access to healthcare and other basic things, all of then moments and opportunities that can turn the smallest gift the highest point of our long working days.
But If you continue to look deeper, you will sense an even stronger fire.
A desire for good examples, human values that life, history and global human stupidity insisted to detour from Africa. The eyes that opened before my eyes, showed me a different continent, a magnificent land of unlimited opportunities.
I see fire…
I see the search for meaning in every conversation that goes beyond the obvious putting prejudice and racism where it belongs (the garbage bin), I hear the request for help, the request to be cared, loved and respected.
If you manage to see beyond the violence that violence nurtures within, you will see the origin of all things, you will see Love, you will feel Love to the point you will believe that its possible to touch it with your fingertips.
Is it real? Maybe for me.
The fire I see strikes me and hurts me simultaneously, words are often to short to add something I would believe to be needed to add, that same minute your eyes become drops, water lines, rivers or oceans, you might scream, yell, swear and end up arguing with God if you believe that He exists.
I close my eyes again, and I understand clearer than ever that…depending on how we use fire, powerful things can happen.
You can burn, destroy and erase the person that’s pisses you off or instead…you can lighten up the darkest nights and warm up the coldest mornings.
Fire can make us see things that are hidden, turning the shadows of our doubts into high quality answers.
It is up to you to decide what to do with fire.
For me is simple, thank you Africa!
* The baobab is found in the savannas of African and India, mostly around the equator. It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year. To describe the baobab, I would say that it looks like it has been picked out of the ground and stuffed back in upside-down. The trunk would be the tap-root, and the branches the finer capillary roots.