Africa is not a country but let’s face it, the world generalizes. I’ve been living in this continent for four years now and at some point so many contradictions grow in you about this fascinating place that seeing scary and unsexy published day after day in the news makes you very angry. The Africa I’ve met has more successful stories than defeats. After these years I have transformed into this shiny knight errant that is determined to show my world another reality. I insist, this is a land of contradictions and realities are many.
“I live in Africa” I often say when people ask. And then I will always get back from them a puzzled face and a look that can only mean “are you nuts?”. You can’t blame them. They just saw /war - poverty – skinny kid - malaria – help/ in a flash. That would definitely freak you out too! And then you just make it better. “Yes, I work here” and then what they see is /sacrifice – good heart – aid – humanitarian work/. But here is another truth about my reality. This is a cool place. We run a sexy company with a team full of sexy people. 3 years ago we founded a high end fashion company in Rwanda. We did that because we saw another edge to the work that can be done here, the edge where trade is an option and this place the best opportunity to do that.
It’s not all roses and fun. Those who take this step and find the strength to move away from family and friends are also moving away from their hope “when are you coming back” into their acceptance “when are you leaving”. Those who take this step are not brave because of the war, the malaria and the misery everybody thinks they will face. They are brave because they will leave behind a world that thinks that the earth’s heart beats faster and stronger back home. That will be the start of a journey full of exciting contradictions.
* this post is dedicated to all those shiny knights that have discovered other realities in this continent and like us are determined to change the way the world thinks the heart beats in Africa.