Bukumbi, Tanzania, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria. In front of the house I grew up in. One of the houses I grew up in.
If you could step into this picture and you’d turn around the corner, this is what you would find. Huge boulders, towering high above our large, once-chalk-white house. Home to vervet monkeys, klipdas and myths of ghosts and hyenas. A perfect playground on long, sunny days. Immensely scary when storms rolled over the land, filling a purple sky with the unforgiving sound of thunder caught between rocks.
Washing on the line. Soaking wet clothes, dry within hours. Sheets, towels and t-shirts stiff as a board, the fragrance of sun soaked into each and every fiber. At night, after we had washed ourselves with the cold, slightly brownish water that reluctantly ran from the tap into the bathtub, my mother would wrap a sun backed towel around us, giving the sun a chance to kiss us goodnight.
When I think about my African youth, I think in sound and smell more than in words these days. Maybe I’ve used up all the possible words to describe the place, as I’ve spend years trying to note down the right sentences to describe the pain that leaving this great continent caused. Ledgers full of detailed accounts, books full of poetry to voice the deep, desperate longing which held me captive for years on end. And while I was writing this all down, it never once occurred to me that I might not have been so desperately longing for Africa, but just for the child that lived there. The little girl that I once was. Full of dreams. Full of hope. Naively confident that she was destined for greatness. Sometimes I think about her now and I wonder whether I disappointed her at all…