Amazing Kids! Magazine

Personal Narrative: Welcome To Africa

By Catherine Dewees, Ohio


Thump! The worn down Jeep rolled over another rock. As I peer out the sunlit window, I look over the peaceful African plains. The bright colors of pink, red, and orange swirl around me which outlines the sun settling right above the horizon. “Click” goes the camera as it captures the memories that will forever be held in my heart. The sun sets and my rosy cheeks turn back into my pale skin as the temperature drops. I hear mumbles of amazement when we see a herd of bulky elephants crossing the rocky dirt road in front of us. As I see a mud hut far in the distance, my thoughts differ back to my hometown, Terrace Park, Ohio. I depict the two pictures in my mind, my bright red house with a brick back patio and luscious green grass surrounding it. And I think of what I see far on the horizon, the cracked mud hut and nothing but a tumbleweed blowing in front of it. I realize how different this place is from home but how exited to learn more about it here.

Africa is a place like no other. As we explore the sights and sounds of this wonderful place I dip my toe more and more into the African culture. Our omniscient tour guide supplies us with an endless abundance of knowledge about the African culture and how they live. We were able to see first-hand how different kinds of people lived and worked each day. We were able to, for example, see how a blacksmith worked. It began with the smoke stinging my nostrils as my family and I sat on a wood slab supported by the two metal bars. The African man covered in black dust pumped the bellows as the crackling coal ignites into flames. I am amazed at how he can work the shining metal whichever way he wants with the sizzling fire beneath him. Once more, my mind retracts to the thought of back home. The men and women dressed nicely as they sit at a desk and work. But here there is freedom with working, and no obligation. But alas, we go back to our abraded Jeep waiting to be our transit for our next destination.

We turn up at a modest farm with many cows and goats splattered in dirt. At the farm we are able to experience how they made bread from the little materials they had. We saw a woman working tirelessly kneading a stiff dough ball. A bead of sweat rolled down her perplexed temple due to the sweltering heat but she does not stop her from working tirelessly to mix all the ingredients into a tasty dough. The scent of manure fills my nose as I hear the deep “moo’s” of cows surrounding us in the tiny hut where we sit. It fascinates me how they make food from so little, how they survive with so little overall, but once more, we hop back in the weathered Jeep, and take a ride to a new community.

At last, we come to a quaint, small-scaled camp deep in the forest with dry mud huts and lots of trees. We followed a rugged dirt path till we reach the huts. The mud was hand packed onto a support of branches that formed a dome. All the “citizens” of the village (not more than 30 people) were all gathered around a shady cabana made of sticks and leaves blocking the luminous sun that shined above us. I do not see one person without a wide crooked smile that seemed to stretch from ear to ear. They all are wearing delicate, disheveled fabric that somewhat resembles clothing. We then went into the woods to gather roots and other small rodents with the women. To them the roots seems like a luscious, juicy cuisine, but to us it seemed like dirty, rotten roots from the ground. After a while in the arid woods we returned back to camp. The aroma of marijuana filled my lungs and throat as the men smoke by the fire, which makes the already hot air, sweltering. Before long, there was singing, lots of it, and soon enough my family and I were intertwined in a jubilant circle of singing and dancing. Rivers of thoughts flow in me. I realize how amazing this place is yet how different it is from back home. How family is a priority and being happy is a priority. I grasp the idea of their lifestyles and cultures and differ it from back home. I once again come to the conclusion of how different this place is from home but how I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. “This is Africa,.” our African guide exclaims. This is Africa I think to myself, this is Africa.

So as my family and I make our way through the teeming airport, through all the hustle and bustle, I notice the simple bright “Welcome To Africa” sign trailing behind me. A whirlwind of emotions bulldoze into me, as I realize this is my final goodbye. My farewell to the place that has treated me so well and taught me so much. My family makes it onto the airplane and I sit down onto the plush airplane seat. I look out the window as the airplane shoots into the sky. While one might think I am leaving my memories behind, that is not the case. My memories will forever stay with me as well as the lessons I’ve learned and the things I was able to experience. I am grateful for this experience as it has taken me out of my shell and opened my eyes to the world around me. I learned about new cultures and lifestyles outside of what I am used to. I stepped into what seemed like a new world and I was able to differentiate it from the “world” I come from. Life in Africa thought me about freedom, family, and faith and I am appreciative to have been a part of it. As I look out of the window and into creamy white clouds, three words ring in my ears over and over. This is Africa.