I took a few virtual tours on YouTube of Kenya after finishing Hemingway’s True at First Light and Susie Kelly’s Safari Ants, Baggy Pants and Elephants. Both books took me on safaris there, so I added a visual look into the rural countryside and on into Nairobi. Though each author had varying missions, both unmistakably loved the beauty of Kenya. I can easily see why each fell in love with this East African nation.
Then, after listening to a Calm App sleep story about the South Africa’s Blue Train, I took a virtual ride on the Blue Train. The journalist was wise in that he muted all sounds and let the viewers feel as if they were riding the train with him and his traveling party. It is a luxury train, and they were treated like royalty as they enjoyed the scenic landscapes.
While in South Africa virtually, I thought about Val Poore’s books such as African Ways and African Ways Again. She has written very descriptive memoirs about her times while living there. So, I took virtual tours to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, to name a few. I also thought of my new Twitter/Author friend Kalenga Mulenga, who is the author of 21 children’s books. He too hails from Johannesburg!
I then ventured over to the lower western countries to Ghana. I had a wonderful teacher-coworker from there who used to calm me down by repeating, “No mind. No mind.” He was telling me to not give the upsetting things any attention. He has since left Chicago and returned to his homeland. I thought of him as I traveled to Ghana on YouTube. I also have a beautiful handmade fan from Ghana that I purchased at a bazaar, here in Evanston.
I thought of the people that I have met through work and remembered a math teacher from Cameroon and a French teacher from Senegal. But most poignantly, I thought of one of my close friends that married a Nigerian. So, I added Nigeria to my virtual tour. I will never forget when her sister wrote and told me that she had moved there. I thought, “How brave!” She and I corresponded over the years and I had postcards from the University of Ibadan and the University of Ife, where her husband taught psychology.
She often brought me gifts when she came home. As I viewed the Nigerian landscape, I thought of them as a young couple along with their three children. Two were born there. They are all grown up now and the whole family is back here in the States. There are simply too many stories to share about her years there in this short space, but I do remember the gifts. I had a snake-skinned or crocodile-skinned coin purse. I had it for several years and I kept a cross and some foreign coins in the front pouch. It stayed in the glove compartment of my car.
Then, I had a heavy necklace which her friend, Essie brought me. It was so pretty but nothing that could be worn with everyday wear. I wore it once to the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building in downtown Chicago as I dined. It turned heads and was indeed a conversation piece. I also had an ivory elephant tooth necklace that I regularly rocked as I taught high school in the 70’s. The chain, however, was quite delicate, so I had to handle it with care.
And lastly, I had a long, colorful batik cloth with a woman standing and paddling a boat. There were several colorful fish underneath the canoe-like boat. It hung in several of my apartments as I moved around from place to place. However, during my nomadic life, I have lost these items, so I attempted to replicate them here in this drawing. They will be forever etched in my memory as I think of Africa, the Motherland!
October 29, 2022