In many spaces world over, you will know without being told that there is an African in the building, literally! You can tell by the choice of music, the elegance in clothing , the purity of laughter ,the genius dance moves , the ability to light up a room with nicely woven stories , great vibes and energy, the command of presence, the variety in food display, the energy in arguments, tone of voice, accent , yes i am stereotyping much but ……….eish …..you just have to belong, even by mere association to understand what i am talking about.
I grew up in a home where we prepared extra food , laid extra beds and haaad extra clothing , just because someone might drop by. Please understand that we were no where close to wealth, we were broke, we couldn’t afford life ………..but there was always extra for that unexpected person or people that might just drop by. Preparing for unexpected guests is labelled wastage,both of resources like time, food and money and of energy. Not in Africa. Actually let me qualify that with not in the pearl of Africa. Every homestead you visit in Africa has something to offer. Its like a ritual , prepartion of some sort of offering before hand, because someone might drop by. An offering of a cup of Water, laughter, food, stories ,folklore, music, a package to leave the hometead with……….it is like the never ending road of givers to giving.
You will visit ten homesteads and be offered something to eat at all the ten homes and then some! Saying no is a sign of dishonor and disrespect, you must atleast drink a cup of water or porridge or eat a banana. If you manage to resist the food, you must carry something away with you, some cassava, bunches of matooke , sweetpotatoes , eggs etc. You just can not leave the same way you came . It is no wonder therefore that we are considered the most hospitable humans alive.
Who wakes up and their first thought is , “You must make sure the food is enough for about 30 guests” just incase someone decides to drop by. The heart that gives shall not lack. And Africans are never in lack. Material things we may lack every now and again, but we are never lacking of the important things, love , hope and faith. The way african families give is not in any way a representation of riches but rather of the spirit of community. We are constantly looking out for one another in ways subtle and loud but one can not mistake the fact that they are cared for. And deeply in the most meaningful ways.
One of my biggest fears is ever leaving this continent for good. I can not imagine a life where i need an invitation to a funeral, or an appointment to check on my people, a structured , pretentious way of life. How an one survive in any place where they do not have the privilage to just show up, no appointment, no prior planning , be fed, be loved on, refill their social capital tank, and even have stuff to carry back home with them? Who can mess with such magic? And there is always more where that came from. Such magic is rare and must be treasured.
Some day i will write about how that magic has somewhat kept many lacking for physical things but very wealthy at community and at heart. But today, i celebrate,our African spirit of generosity. The generosity of our time, our treasure and our every resource. And everyday, becasue someone might drop by, choose to be a blessing, choose to give an offering.