Thursday, 7 january 2010, Alone in Accra--
A cold Star beer, hot white rice dressed up in bright red Sriracha, one smoked-and-dried, bought-off-the-street-side fish, a quiet house and an excellent day: that’s what’s for dinner.
I had a good day today. One of those days that everyone has every once in awhile, when you feel good about the decisions you’ve made that have lead you where you are.
I love Africa. I love Africa! I love that I’m here and that I can say that I’m here. Despite its intensity, I love what I do here. A friend of mine who works with the International Red Cross described Africa as a place that is “so violent, and yet so fragile,” and her portrayal couldn’t be more accurate. You see stuff here that you just don’t see anywhere else—which is crazy to say because there’s stuff exactly like this going on everywhere in the world, every day, all the time.
But Africa is different. It’s always different. I’ve developed various, unoriginal theories as to why this is so—the insidious impacts of colonization, riotous corruption at every level of subsistence, relentless and protracted ethnic warring, the fact that Africa’s the place where AIDS came from which makes it kinda okay to not give much of a humanitarian shit, plus they’re black people anyway, etc.
Ultimately, though: what the hell you gonna do about it? ANY of it? What am I gonna do about it? Why does anyone even really care? What—on Earth—can possibly be done to fix the intricate and innumerable problems that obstruct the growth, development, education, health, democracy, racial equality, and on and on and on, in Africa?
For starters, I can eat this dinner, drink this beer, say nothing. Perhaps that sounds callous and base, but I mean it. Sometimes, that’s the only thing I can do here that feels right enough to me, because, really, who the f*ck do I think I am, living here, somehow enjoying myself?
I don’t have an answer. But I have a theory…