Before we moved to Uganda, I had no idea how cultures would collide in my heart! Perhaps I should say Africa invades my heart in just about every area of my life. It might surprise you the many ways. It surprises me!
I love music and now there are certain songs that immediately draw my heart to Africa. For instance, “Africa” by Toto will always tug deeply. And then there’s this song on You Tube that my daughter sent me this week during Christmas which sent my heart soaring for Africa called “12 Days of Christmas” by Straight No Chaser. It just sounds like a normal Christmas song you’ve heard before, but listen to it and see! Check out especially from 1:30 to the end HERE. It will draw you towards Africa also. One that might surprise you is “Feliz Navidad.” I will never listen to that song without remembering Africa again. During the Christmas season, it is easy to hear it playing in town on any given day in December especially.
I am not sure that I can ever listen to Kenny Rogers again without thoughts of Africa either. I have taken many night bus rides from Uganda to Kenya and back with Kenny Rogers’ songs blaring pretty much the whole way. Somehow it surprised me as I would have expected to hear Ugandan or Kenyan music instead. But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that each of us have our own individual preferences. Easy Coach bus drivers apparently prefer country music.
Then there’s the desire to slow down and put people as priority. Africa, especially Uganda, has taught me so much on this plain. Hurrying and scurrying to and fro is difficult to do here. Instead of checking off items on my to do list, it is much easier to slow down. Stop and greet my friend and neighbor. Linger and visit a little while longer. The to do list can keep. I wish I would have learned this many, many years ago.
I discover many ways Africa has invaded my life whenever I go back to the states for a visit. Instead of walking/driving on the right side of the road, I find my tendency is to go left – even in the shopping aisles at the grocery store. It seems I am forever turning on my windshield wipers instead of the blinkers that I am reaching for when driving down the road. Responding to others in conversation with my eyebrows frequently before remembering that I am not in Africa anymore is also a recurrent response.
Shopping at Walmart or Costco is overwhelming nowadays. So many choices and flavors for just about everything. Who knew that my favorite Wheat Thins is now called “original” and mixed in the middle of umpteen different flavors. And then there’s cereal. Oh my, I can’t even talk about cereal … and it’s not just food. Can you imagine how many choices there are when shopping just for underwear? How does one decide quickly when there are so many options?
Storms that seem unequal to other places I have lived also welcomed me. Many storms are what I call “Africa dumps.” It’s not just rain, but it’s a huge downpour. It’s as if the heavens open up all at once and just “dump” its contents in a very short period of time. I will never forget the sounds of heavy rain and in the midst of it huge clatters of thunder coupled with lightening, all indicating the storm is overhead and not at a distance. One of my favorite parts of these storms is that they often came in the afternoon or in the middle of the night. If it was an afternoon rain, it wasn’t long afterwards that the sun would shine brightly. And in the night, the calm that followed afterwards lulled one to sleep peacefully.
During and sometimes afterwards, storms would bring power outages. Not that this was the only time for power outages, but at least one would know to expect an outage. I think that any time the power goes out in the states or a light-switch isn’t working, I will forever be reminded of when I lived in Africa. During our ten years here, I could never even begin to count the number of times the power has gone out or even the number of hours. I never even knew what load-shedding was or that it existed before living here. If there’s not enough power to go around, you basically share it on a scheduled usage basis. I also never worried about power surges, although we were always taught to use power protectors for all of our electronics.
Of course, there’s also the water. I never filtered my water or worried about drinking other people’s water. I freely drank from water fountains and the tap without a second thought. Now when I go back to the states, it doesn’t feel right to brush my teeth with tap water let alone drink water that hasn’t been at least filtered. Daily I was reminded here in Uganda that water is a precious commodity that not all enjoy freely and/or easily. It was a rare day that I could drive somewhere and not see people carrying water in jerry cans. Will I be able to go back to taking water for granted again? I hope not. Hopefully water will remind me to pray for my Ugandan neighbors and friends when I am back in the states.
Yes, for sure, Africa is forever in my heart. It’s not just the place, it’s the people. It’s their ways and their priceless lessons that are ingrained in me. May I never forget. May I forever be changed. May Africa never leave my heart and always remain within.