While growing up back in India i was surely not unfamiliar with Africans. Every saturday morning while i was still studying in school ,i used to go for special tutions for chemistry. Early on a saturday morning in the late eighties when very few people owned cars the roads were mostly isolated. The only people i met were Africans students who came on an exchange programme to one of the most famous engineering colleges in my town ( T.K.M college of Engineering, Kollam). Most of these students were form Nigeria. Well educated, polite young men. I used to pass them mostly on the bridge and they would nod politely at this 14 year old school girl and i at them.
A few years later i got to hear that our very beautiful geography teacher ran away with a Nigerian senior student who also happened to be her brothers best friend. When she returned from Nigeria with her kid to continue her teachers job she used to tell us stories about Africa! It was while listening to her stories that i had decided that i too wanted to marry someone outside India!
Now not mentioning the number of Indian teachers who went to work in Africa. I have friends who grew up in Ghana, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, just to mention a few places. They had only wonderful stories to tell about Africa, although from time to time we heard some gruesome tales!
The Africa in the 90’s saw a drastic change. The only news we started hearing about is about wars, famines ,genocides, dictators, terrorism, etc etc. My uncle who worked and lived as a teacher in Uganda had to flee along with his large family in the 70’s. I still remember my aunt telling me that the only item she refused to leave behind is her ultra modern stove which she tried to hide under her sari! 🙂
Years went by, except for what i read in the newspapers everyday i hardly showed any interest in Africa until i came across the book “Roots” by Alex Haley and his character Kunta Kinte, I got so engrossed in this book and i relived every moment with such intensity. No other book has ever touched me the way this book did.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roots:_The_Saga_of_an_American_Family) Read more about it here!
This book was to change my view of Africa and Africans forever. I suddenly realized that Africa was comprised of different peoples with different cultures and traditions. But it always bothered me that there was so much violence on this lovely continent.
Then i got married to a belgian. We got married in India and he left me behind so i could complete my graduation and join him after 4 months. Just after we got married i got a wishing card from Belgium. I did not recognize the name of the person who sent it. It was a lovely card with music inside and wishing us a very happy married life. I remember not even receiving a card from my husbands family. So i found it extremly friendly of this person to do so!
When my brand new husband called i asked him who it was and he said it was his African colleague he worked with. Its the same friend who once joked with my husband before we got married. He said jokingly in a mixture of flemish and english “I am going to fuck jouw wife when she comes here”. My husband at that point did not find it funny at all and he said ” Why does these Africans always think of dipping their dick anywhere and everywhere”. But i took it less seriously and i remember when i did meet this African guy we just spoke normally and in a friendly manner.
Then of course i met the other type of Africans ( the agressive, greedy, vulgar, uneducated,racists kind) ( to be continued)