Every now and again, I randomly realize that I am in Africa.
Africa…the place where we say many starving children dwell when someone back home has not finished their food.
Africa… the stereotyped land of huts, loincloths, and wild animals running free.
Africa…one of the first places American churches seek to send missionaries, money, and clothes.
Africa… the part of the world we feel sorry for most because we think they are failing to live.
And because of where I am living in Africa, I forget I am here because none of these stereotypes hold true.
Yes, I’ve seen children beaten…I have also seen this in America.
Yes, the electricity goes out from time to time… also in America.
Yes, people get stomach bugs from water and fruit. Does this not also occur in the states?
It is true that different areas of Africa are worse off than others and not everywhere is safe.
It is true that they are not as modernized as the states, but they live and thrive here…appreciating life for what its worth probably far more than most Americans appreciate their own life.
We choose to sympathize with Africa, but I wonder why they should not sympathize with us.
Stereotypes of westerners exist here as well. Some taxi drivers and market clerks may try hard to give you an unfair price because you are white, but much of the individuals here welcome you and desire you to understand and thrive in their culture while you are around.
It is welcoming, loving and beautifully ignorant of where we are coming from…not thinking, “those westerners can’t understand the concept of latrines, charcoal, and stone for cooking, or bucket baths”.
Stereotype has become a bitter word on my tongue… a bitter, bitter word.