I came in full of pretension. There were hundreds of story lines detailing one hundred different expectations about how I should feel, and what I should think. I was instructed by genetic memory and the wisdom of those who thought they knew the dubiety of my motives. See I had only imagined what it was like to cross the
I came in with expectations. I observed, I talked, and I listened. I took in the surroundings for better and worse. I stared AIDS in the face and witnessed the orphans to be left in its aftermath. I saw progress and poverty, determination and despair, all on the same Chapa as it ran through red lights and busy intersections. I had hours long conversations about the ills of society. For a moment I thought I was discussing the black ghettoes of
I arrived with all of these things weighing on my conscious. I saw the partially clothed children on the streets in the middle of the night, blind women being led down the Avenida to beg for pennies. I saw trash in the streets garbage bins overflowing while motorist carelessly toss fast food containers out of their car windows. Children at mid day raising children in poorly built barrios walking through mosquito infested water logged muddy streets, why aren’t they in school? Women dressed like supermodels standing in queue next to those maimed by landmines or some other misfortune. I saw the deplorable conditions and the looming threats to this emerging African success story. But I also saw the smiles. The beaches packed on the weekends bumper to bumper for miles. No gunshots, no fights, no swarm of police standing by to break up the assembly. The children competing, swimming, racing, practicing martial arts, and playing futbol on makeshift fields. Someone proudly remarked you do not hear of suicide in this country. But I heard the Clubs packed with a rare mix of euro-house, zouk, hip-hop, and afro-latin discography predictably and effortlessly in sync like the ever present passada rhythm. I saw women asserting their position in society, actively participating in the progress of their country trying to fight back the tide of so many destructive developments of the past and present to create a better future. Women taking their place in society, not just running households but running the government. I spoke to those I encountered about my decades old dreams of witnessing the sun rise from the opposite end of the earth and my unrequited love for this place that made me seem so at ease in its surroundings. I listened to intelligent and open minded opinion about what was needed for us to progress the country. The expectations were not experienced, the pretension was not present. There were no awe inspiring epiphanies no volumes of commentary on the struggle just many hopes, many opportunities, many things that need to be done, and one realization: I have returned through the doors from which there was to be no return, and at last my heart is at home.
Hannibal Ad Portas!