Thursday, December 6, 2012

Africa e Africa

I was sitting in the living room reading a book I found in Portuguese by Jorge Armado, a great Brazilian author, when in walks a middle aged man I found out to be a Cuban Medical Doctor at a nearby clinic.

Alice introduced me and he immediately began to speak frivolously about Bissau. It all happened too fast for me to get anything from it. But at the end he slowed down and said, "Africa e Africa." Then he looked at Alice and together they looked at me and said, "Africa e Africa!"

Whoa, what does that even mean?

My internet access here is limited, but in a recent web session I found this article. Guinea Bissau: Fear Amid Human Rights Abuses

Almost exactly a month before we arrived at the airport it was reported that "soldiers stormed barracks near Bissau's main airport, targeting military figures and leaving six people dead." Surprisingly, the casualties are not what makes this article disturbing, but rater that a reporter mentions,  "the last time I saw this level of fear among activists and commentators was in the build-up to the civil war in the late 1990s."

I read the article in disbelief! None of that could be going on, everyone here seems to just doing there thing. And I hadn't heard a word about any of this until I looked it up just now!

I talked to my mom about it for a bit. When violence, political corruption, and military coups are part of the norm, things like what happened in the article is probably like hearing there was a death in Richmond or Oakland. Unfortunately, it just becomes the norm.

It's hard to really understand on an outsider surface level what is understood on an imbedded social and cultural level.  Can an outsider ever really understand? I feel like i'm walking around having no idea whats really going on. I guess its the traveler's blessing and curse.

But it did give me some insight: Maybe that's why no one will let me go anywhere by myself and why my step-dad insists I be home before it gets to dark.  The fear is real, but it's so contradictory to what I have been experiencing because everyone is so nice!

They may not talk about the immediate local politics, but Africa is Africa. I take that to mean uncertainty is guaranteed. Lets see if that holds true.

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