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Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Home Again in Africa - Page 4

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

“Nawa, nawa,” he said, greeting us effusively. He motioned us inside and reached deep into the freezer to retrieve a tepid Fanta. Peter was younger than I but he quickly took charge of the kids, giving them the soda and telling them to go play. Before long the glass bottle was empty and the boys were enveloped in a game of football. Rautia wandered off to play with her younger cousins. Peter told me that he had been wondering when we would arrive. Our mother had stopped by on her way to Oshakati. He had been waiting for us all morning.

Throughout the afternoon, Peter and I sat talking in the shade of a giant sausage tree, its brown pods hanging around us like dead bananas. We talked of Namibia and the United States, Peter wondering about American movies and I asking him about African music. Late in the day, Peter’s mother came by with fried chicken and mahangu—a gritty paste made from ground maize—and Peter yelled for the kids to come and eat. We sat in silence and ate with our fingers, dipping balls of mahangu into a gravy-like sauce made from the chicken. After eating—the kids ran off to play again. I watched as Peter broke the chicken bones in half and sucked the marrow out. As the sun sank I began to wonder what we would do when night fell.

My mother returned just before dusk. She hugged and thanked me profusely when she arrived. She was sore and dusty from the ride and had come back alone. I asked her about Aamu but again she said “not good” and I was left wondering what would become of her. I wanted to press my mother and enquire further but she seemed impatient. “Come,” she said, hurriedly, “It will get dark before long.”

footballMy mother yelled for Rautia and she waited while I collected the boys. I had to interrupt their soccer match and jokingly wrestled them to the ground to get them moving. I even carried Simon back on my shoulders. My mother smiled as we approached and said that she was happy the boys had an older brother now. She told me it was my turn to take care of them. Suddenly I felt sad. I had only a few days remaining with the family, yet I was finally feeling comfortable in the region. For the first time since arriving I had forgotten that I was white. It was no longer an issue. I was just part of the family. I was sad because I knew I would be leaving soon.

After we had gathered around my mother, she grabbed Rautia’s hand and quickly took off marching amongst the scrubby mopane trees. Before long we were enveloped by darkness.

(Page 4 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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