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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Home Again in Africa - Page 3

Written by Ryan Krogh
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When I first met my new sister, she was afraid to touch me because of my skin. She had never seen a white person before. Her name was Rautia and she was six years old. When we were introduced, Rautia cowered behind her mother’s legs, only stealing quick glimpses of me from behind her mother’s turquoise dress. I said ‘Hello’ in Oshivambo like I had practiced, but it only frightened her more

“Is there anything I can do?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “I will need you to watch the kids.”

“Of course,” I said, quickly realizing her intentions.

I had not yet met my mother’s husband, nor would I—his work at the copper mine only allowed him to return every six months—but as one of the few workers with a supervisory role my family was comparatively wealthy. In addition to the traditional rondavels—round, wooden huts with roofs made from millet stalks—our family had two short, cement houses covered by corrugated tin. Furthermore, our family was one of the few who owned a vehicle, a small, ochre-colored pickup truck. Aamu was brought to my mother because of the vehicle; they would need to drive to Oshakati for medical treatment.

When the women were ready to leave, Alfeus and I were ordered to push the truck down the sandy, two-track road so that my mother, who was sitting behind the wheel, could pop the clutch. When the engine finally stuttered to life, Rautia’s aunt jumped into the bed of the moving truck, Aamu jostling in her arms, and together they roared off down the road. As they disappeared into the veld I suddenly realized I had been left with no instructions for the kids. I had no idea what we would do for the day, or what we would eat. I was left in charge of a family without a clue what to do.

For the rest of the morning, the kids seemed content to play at home, kicking a soccer ball against the wooden spikes of the palisade surrounding the ehumbo. By the afternoon, they grew restless. Simon yanked on my shirt and told me he was hungry. “I know,” I said. “I’ll figure something out.”

storeWith no idea of what else to do, I decided to take them to a nearby collection of huts next to the main road. My family owned a bare, cinderblock store in the ramshackle settlement and they sold beer and soda to travelers from a chest freezer inside. I knew from past visits that someone from the extended family was always there. When we arrived, it turned out to be Peter, Rautia’s eldest cousin.

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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