FROM THE PEARL OF AFRICA TO THE HEART OF AMERICA
We are coming home to America after a two-year hiatus. These returns are always full of emotion and are often bittersweet. There are certain atrocities that I cannot wait to escape: the discrimination against minorities and lack of basic human rights, planning escape routes in advance for fear of al shabaab terrorist attacks, and mostly the corruption and poaching that paint a grim picture for the unique animals in this part of the world. Uganda also has expensive internet that is controlled by Uganda’s corrupt government and horrible traffic and pollution that limits your daily movements.
There are many more things I will miss about Africa: the friendly people with their stark white smiles, the multitude of cultures that are so different than ours, the dramatic savanna thunderstorms and the ethereal sunrises/sunsets, the incessant “exploring their new world” with our children, and of course the never-ending travel in this amazing wonderland. Most of all, I will miss the African animals, to whom I feel a strong spiritual connection. I have relished witnessing our girls fall in love with the living world around them, especially the African world of charismatic megafauna. Like so many people I know from the Western world, Africa stole my heart years ago and my return is inevitable.
I feel excitement to be “home” in America and to spend quality time with friends and family. I look forward to taking a deep breath of clean, crisp air, and appreciating the lack of garbage on the streets. I cannot wait to feel alive in the beautiful snow-capped mountains with green trees and clear blue lakes. I will also be astutely aware of the high number of middle class people in relation to the relatively low number of the impoverished, the lack of corruption in everyday life, and the comparably reduced discrimination of minorities. Equality between men and women may not be equal, but at least women don’t get ignored or stoned when they are raped, but instead the community comes together to shame the rapist. I appreciate this and recognize we are a work in progress. There is a greater sense of equality and lack of the feeling of superiority between the wealthy and the poor. America provides a place where our children are safe running in their own neighborhood. Or at least I still hope it is this way.
This return is yielding slightly different emotions than usual: I’m returning to a country that is brewing hatred, with a presidential candidate that was nominated through hate and fear mongering, whom acts as a positive feedback mechanism within his own party that continually increases the fear, hatred, and division within our own people. I am worried about the minorities, about the non-Christians, about the foreigners living within and out of our borders. Mostly, I am worried about us as Americans. We are divided as a country and we are making an enemy of ourselves. Our fear and hatred for our own people is spiraling into an infinite chasm; the light at the other end of the tunnel is getting dimmer and dimmer. I am worried about November and, for the first time in my life, I cannot see even a glimpse of the dark road in which we may be laying for our future generations. I was initially in disbelief, which eventually led to anger, and now I feel pure sadness toward the hateful words that are leading to actions of violence, this violence that seems to be not only accepted, but praised by our presidential nominee. I am still very excited to be returning to our beautiful home that we love so much, but for the first time, I am full of anxiety about the possibility of feeling like I am no longer escaping the atrocities of a developing country. Please, please, please let Americans choose a road of peace and love and continue to strive to rid of discrimination, hatred, and violence. Let us create a world that is hospitable to our children and grandchildren; let’s teach them love and tolerance and leave a legacy in which we can be proud.