As if to punctuate our experience here in Africa, the gods gave us lightning and thunder for our farewell dinner tonight. As usual we had some great food. We also exchanged gifts and made a few speeches. But it was the tears of Mame Coumba that told me we had made our mark on Africa as Africa has made its mark on each of us.
I miss sleeping with Smudge and I’m ready to go home but, I have had an experience here unlike any of my other travels. I’ve had trouble understanding much of what I’ve seen but, this I can tell you for sure; Africa wants our respect as a brother with an equal birthright. Yes, there is much poverty here but, as we offer a helping hand we must be willing to acknowledge our own shortcomings and offer to work side-by-side as equal partners to better the world. I have seen many clever entrepreneurs and hard working people with an optimistic vision of the future.
For now, I will need more time to reflect on my experience. But, the strongest image in my mind is of a small girl in Toubacouta. She was maybe two or three years old and she leaned next to me as the drummers were drumming and many of the villagers were dancing. I could tell she had a strong urge to run out and dance as she watched some of the older girls dance. Eventually, she ran out with a very serious look on her face and danced with surprising skill. All the older girls were smiling and laughing as they danced but, this little one maintained her sober face and when finished dancing she returned to her place next to me as seriously as when she had left. It was clear to me that she needed to be a part of the dance and she was intent on giving her best dance.
A few minutes later, one of the dancers grabbed my hand and invited me to dance. I was like that young girl. I decided to give my best dance. Though I’m sure my moves were awkward, my dance partner could see I was offering my best and her eyes lit up as we moved to the pounding rhythm. Sweat ran from our brows as our faces got closer and our eyes locked and our hearts pounded in unison. Our conversation was not in French nor even in Wolof but, I think I’ve never had such a meaningful discussion.
I gave my best dance.