Nothing to read here
I have not written anything for a while, for as a matter of fact, I don't really know what to tell you or rather how? How to talk about my time in 'Africa', so that my stories do not feed into the existing stereotypical imagery of this continent?
I am not one of those white girls on a mission to save Africa, or to explore local culture, or to spend time on a safari. In fact, my life barely differs from life in London, Copenhagen or Vilnius. I spend hours staying at my table (trying) to write my master thesis, I eat porridge with fruits and toast with cheese for breakfast, and on Saturday nights we order pizzas, I have a hot running shower and regularly check my emails (that is, if there was no heavy rain). And we even watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix while doing usual house chores. There is nothing exotic about these past few months in Mozambique, as some friends would expect when writing to ask "so, how is AFRICA?". In response I have to take a deep breath and stop myself from angrily replying in hashtags #AfricaIsNotACountry or #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou.
There is nothing peculiar or out of this world when I go for regular meetings to interview NGO workers and activists. We talk about their struggles to survive, to secure enough funds to function, about inter-competition, all of which reminds me of NGO scene in Lithuania. There is no "the dark mysterious continent" moment as I ride on the back of a motorbike with a local boy whose name is Wonder (Maravilho) deep into the bairro with mud huts lined up alongside "proper" brick buildings. And as I heavily sweat making my way to the closest moto-taxi stop, I swear, I also dream to just lay in the shade of a big tree and that a banana (or better - pieces of mango) fall into my mouth without any extra effort of my body or brain.
It is a matter of choice, whether you focus to see mud huts as a sign of poverty or as the most suitable construction for the local climate. It is a matter of choice, whether you choose to see begging mother or also mothers taking their children to school. It is a matter of choice whether you tell a story of witchcraft or of a local jazz festival. If you only focus on that exotic something that conforms to your imagination about the place, you will certainly find it and it will dominate your perception silencing all the manifestations of daily normality. This is the case of 'Africa'. Our perception is framed by what media (and/or education) presents and naturally, consciously or unconscionably, we are looking for confirmation of our perception. Many come here searching for witchcraft and semi-naked tribes, for extreme poverty with its trademark UNICEF fly hovering around child's eyes or mouth, for ruined colonial beauty, for drum playing. And, though, you definitely can find all of that, there is so much more to be seen and experienced.
However, normal stories without the exotic twist aren't sexy. So, I guess, my choice is to be unsexy and tell you unfascinating stories not from Africa, but from a place called Pemba, Mozambique.
PS: I put a picture of myself looking at a little gecko for I just don't have any photo to illustrate this little text :P