As my South African holiday continued, I became comfortable again in my African roots. This was the land of my birth after all. I was struck by the unashamed realness and grubbiness that is Africa.
Street corners, walkways through the central parks or any location that has been identified as a tourist pathway is targeted by opportunistic pop-up vendors. For me and many others, the makeshift stalls that are jam-packed with eye-catching items are an integral part of Africa and a sight that is endearing. These creative artists use wood, material, recycled tin cans, bottle tops, wire, beads, and even brightly coloured plastic bags to create incredible designs. One of the downsides is the refuse that collects around these areas. But for many vendors, this is the only way that they can make a living.
I’d forgotten about the noise of Africa. People shout; car exhausts roar - it’s a hubbub of busy-ness. Whether strolling the beaches, walking along central pathways, seated in a bus, driving on the roads or in the busy malls, there’s this vibrancy and passionate defence of declarations and/or actions. Africa is LOUD. In its very being, statements are made. Even at 6am in the morning with a serene beach scene, nature, animals and the ragged beauty of the surrounds are vivid and non-apologetic in the forcefulness and energy of the panorama and its people.
This also translates to a daredevil attitude that proliferates Africa. Pickpockets are as commonplace as the beggars. Drivers and pedestrians also seem to vie for dominance. Mindful that I’d been away from this continent for over seventeen years, there I stood on one side of the road, a pedestrian who is used to waiting for the walking green man to approve my progress. Yet, all around me, my fellow humans took their life in their hands by (perhaps) looking left and right, and then forging forward in almost total disregard of the sixty kilograms versus five tonne ratios.
And so I came to the end of my holiday. But this won’t be goodbye; It’ll be Arrivederci! Africa is about vitality, edginess, and risk-taking without any chemical enhancement needed. As long as you remember to trust your instincts and double-check everything you hear, you’ll have a great time.
Marisa Parker - Author www.marisaparkerauthor.com