It’s wrong to say “Africa” as though it was only one…
There is the one of the Ethiopian highlands and the one of the red dunes of the Namib. The one of the tropical beaches of Zanzibar and Mozambique. Or that one with the cocconut palms swaying in the breeze at the coasts. The one with the alarming rumours at night and the spicy-wild smells while you wander through the bush. Or the one of the colourful markets, the smiling children and the women with hearts, big as mountains.
There is also the Africa of the Victoria Falls and of the Okavango Delta, the one of the desert elephants and the “gorillas in the mist”. The one of the Egyptian pyramids and the voodoo fetishes of Benin. The Africa of the old baobabs and the umbrella acacias. The one of the sunsets that make you cry. The one of the emerging metropolises trapped between tradition and future. The one that leaves the smell of a woodfire in your cloths: from the barbecues during a safari or from a cooking fire in a hut.
The Africa of the flat-tires and the power blackouts – when you improvise with candles. The one of the fastest marathon runners of the world who live in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia. Or the Africa of the ancient peoples like the Himba in Namibia, the Massai Tanzania or the Bushmen in Botswana. The one of the rythmic music that changes from place to place whose beat always runs into your legs. The Africa of the great migrations of the Serengeti or the wild areas in the Southern Luangwa in Zambia. Or the one of the huge rivers, full of crocodiles and hippos like the Zambezi. And the one of the breathtaking scenery from the Kilimanjaro or the Rift Valley. The one of the hot nights and the torrential rains that make come out animals you never see during the rest of the year.
There is the Africa that wakes up every morning before sunrise with the ear-piecing singing of thousands of birds and that goes to sleep every evening under a clear sky with so many stars as you will not see from no other part of the world.
Only the effect is has on me is one – a strong “Mal D’Africa” (the Italians have a wonderful word for this feeling, translating “homesick for Africa”)