Sunday, September 4, 2011

From Toubab to Muzungu

If I have learned anything the last two months, it's that making plans is rather arbitrary, especially in Africa.  I can no longer count how many times my plans have changed, and each time for a multitude of reasons.  But I found a scene of freedom in not having plans to follow.  I think that we schedule and organize every second of our day in order to make some sense of the chaos that is life.  But I am beginning (and I say beginning because it is hard to completely surrender from color-coordinated day planners) to see the beauty in enjoying life as it unfolds.

If you asked me two months ago where I would be today, I would probably tell you that I would be relaxing at a cafe in Freetown, catching up on emails and recovering from a busy week of work.  If you ask me today where I am today, I will tell you that I am in fact across the African continent in Kigali, Rwanda sitting outside listening to someone playing a harmonica.  This was definitely not the plan.

I have now been a Muzungu (foreigner in Kinyarwanda) for the last few days after being a Toubab (foreigner in Wolof) for the last two months.  Neither of these titles were part of my itinerary when I left the states but they have woven their way into my life and I am happy they have.  Unexpected but perfect and exactly as it is supposed to be.

In Gambia, without plans and disappointed, I struggled to except that life is not actually about the plans.  But being a Toubab has been a real gift.  I spent two months living with an incredible family, sweating from morning to night, fasting for Ramadan (well not really), seeing chimpanzees and working with wonderful youth.  I spent two solid months with Alex, which doesn't happen often.  Two months that I will never ever forget. 

I am now a Mugunzu, in the heart of Africa.  I had plans to be somewhere else but I have quickly found that there was not where life wanted me. So, forget the plans, Rwanda is right where I need to be.

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