“Nwanne di na mba” a saying in my dialect meaning in effect, “You will find relatives in foreign lands”. Intimacy is expressed in a variety of ways – contact, physical and psychological; thought intercourse, sharing, even rebuke and conflict. I should probably have called this post Close Encounters with Africans.
Absolom had a very endearing personality. He would hug me closely the, first time I went to the office/house at Labone. He wrapped his right hand around my neck, my forehead resting softly on his collar bone. It was interesting and I was not particularly used to that. Was it some Zimbabwean culture or what? And the way he engaged complete strangers amazed me: the Israeli woman who sold us some interesting manicure sets and the young lady who sold perfumes by measure. I have never spent so long buying stuff.
Tapiwa’s calm disposition always intrigued me. Whether he was happy, sad or angry it was not so easy to tell. Was there some history about him that was hidden deep within? Was it simply genetic or had some life experience moulded him? he told me about his wife and second child on the way. I didn’t even realize he was married before now. The calls from home did trouble him a bit, visibly. And when we came out of that shop offering “buy one get one free shoes”, I sensed something more about him when he emphasized “… in this world we are living in… there is nothing like that …”.
Mamadee told me about his family, the war in Liberia in his early days, his parents, his foster parents in Ghana. He sounded so emotional that at some point I was afraid he was going to break down to tears. Would I hold him if he did? Emmm…. We stayed in the same room and if there is anything I remember about him, it is that he was vocally active. If I knew SQL Server the way he knows football, I would probably be an MVP by now. We are coming.
Kobi went on and on about his wife and kid until I wanted to get married there and then. In fact, I even got a message from Ghana that the young lady was “looking” for him. Apparently they could not do without each other for a period in excess of 24 hours. I admired his focus a lot. He was already planning to bring his wife to Table Mountain before we joined the cable car. Oh! “Love tins” like they say in Naija.
Johannes’s camera came in so handy and he didn’t seem too bothered about being the one to take most of the pictures. “Next!” he would yell at the Lighthouse when each of us to turns to take pictures at the Lighthouse. Very energetic young man, admirable. Learnt was getting married soon. Marriage again. In the same conversation during dinner at Moyo’s place the previous day, I learnt Rosemarie, our host, had been to fifty-eight countries. Talk about a travelling job! She was an interesting middle-aged lady herself, young at heart.
“You don’t have to be a superstar, just be responsible”. That was Pivot. We were about thirty minutes late leaving table Mountain and that was Mamadee and I again holding the group back as we seemed to have done the previous day before dinner. I wish I could replay his East African accent when he said the word “responsible”. The entire discourse sounded a bit like scolding but I always appreciated the Zimbabweans’ knack for telling you the truth to your face even if it meant conflict (and a bit of sarcasm sometimes). Being close exposes our hidden flaws and sometimes we can be corrected.
I am sure Seun, my Naija brother, has delivered my message to Williams. Small world, isn’t it? John went to Spain in the middle of our stay. A developer, I was challenged by his understanding of Windows. His voice was very impressive too. Quiet Reginald, Charles … memories. Looking forward to being a Solutions Architect like Carlin, aren’t I? Can I ever forget the tour guide? He must have had a degree in tourism. If we were taking notes, we could fill up a forty leave notebook! I could go on and on ….