Africa's Own

Once you've trod the soil of Africa, you'll come back...

I grew up in Zimbabwe, spent the first 12 years of my life there. Our family was part of a community of missionary-types from all over the world. I had friends from the USA, Europe, Australia and other countries within the African continent. But, being missionaries, we've once again scattered to our own corners of the globe, and largely lost touch with each other.

Or have we?

The world is smaller than we imagine! And old friends have been popping up all over recently.

A couple of years ago I had this hankering to find my first boyfriend, an American who I'd known in early primary school days. I tracked his mom down and found out where he's at. He's been through hell after his wife left him, and had disappeared for a while to find direction - she suspected he'd come "home" to Africa. He eventually resurfaced, and yes - he'd been here. It had helped him get his life back on track.

Near the end of last year, I received an email from someone I'd lost contact with in Australia, the big sister of a guy I was in primary school with. She blogs, I blog - and now it's hard to lose each other again! :) She'll be out here next year for a few months, spending time on Africa's soil to rest, travel and think.

A few weeks ago I received another email from a guy I grew up with, and whose brother I came awfully close to marrying years ago (in hindsight thank goodness we didn't). We've been in contact since, and last night he phoned on a whim to chat for half an hour. He's in the process of a difficult divorce, and last year spent 6 months "home" in Africa with mutual friends, taking time out to save himself from emotional disaster, to think and recover. He'll be back again soon, come hell or high water (or financial difficulty) - this continent gets its claws into you and never lets go.

He's in contact with others of our scattered friends, all of whom still have roots here, all of whom seem to drift back at least once, and often when they need time out to rediscover where they're headed. We've made a pact to get together as many of us as we can, as often as we can - even if it's just virtually via webcam and internet line. (I'm ordering a Skype phone today too...)

There's something about the dust of Africa, the skies of Africa, the deep-down realness of Africa. Something that bears healing and authenticity to the soul. It gets under your fingernails, between your toes and into your heart, ensuring that once you're an African, you're always an African - even if it's only a borrowed homeland.

(one of the many friends and I at Mana Pools, Zimbabwe, early 1980's)