An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Wake of Colonialism

Beanie is a second or third generation Malawian. He manages a tobacco and coffee plantation and invited us for lunch. I’m not much for smoking, but coffee? Are you kidding? Coffee is one of the few remaining fruits that can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. So uhm yeah-I accepted.


Visiting his plantation was a picture of Africa I wasn’t expecting, not the landscape, the lifestyle. One where time seemed to have stopped and was in no hurry to catch up. It hinted of colonial days. Long dirt roads channeling through a canopy of old trees. Living quarters for workers. Tobacco farmers sure to smile and nod to passing visitors. Beanie’s house was lovely. Simple but plentiful. Overlooking an orchard of the life-giving bean.


We entered. “Hello, massuh.”  Two words that would haunt me for days to come.  Words I was unaware even still existed. She was a worker, not a servant. Still the statement sat uncomfortably. I greeted the fragile, pregnant girl as I passed through the kitchen. Later she quietly sat before us a delicious meal, over which Beanie spoke of his youth. And the youth of his nephew wherein their closest friends were those of workers.


Beanie was pleasant and hospitable. It was hard to imagine him mistreating or discriminating anyone. However, my experience here was one I had started to see throughout Malawi. A colonial residue. There were hints the first night we arrived and went to dinner at a nice restaurant where every mouth eating was as pale as the porcelain it ate from.


Maids. Guards. Gardeners. Not only did it exist, it was expected for anyone of lighter hue. I noticed it at the theatre, the restaurants, the markets. And yet somehow it seemed “ok”. No one seemed bothered by it. There was no tension. It is what it is, if you were white it seemed you were smarter, richer, more respected. Even if the drastic minority.


Meanwhile, a few countries south there were daily reports of murder and violence in the shadow of apartheid. I was reminded of our own country’s past. Malcolm and King. Riots and protests. The struggle of a people to be recognized as such. A past I’m proud to have missed out on, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Northern Arizona.


But now it seemed real. Not as extreme perhaps but enough to understand. To see more clearly a people’s effort for equality. However, I am left wondering what is right, appropriate, necessary. In a world of war, I’m inclined toward peace. Non-violent protest. Yet there must be a will to fight. To stand, for those God given rights of humanity.


Where do you start? How far do you go? When do you draw the line? When does action speak louder than word? Must the pendulum err before finding its comfortable compromise? Frankly… I just don’t know. It’s possible I’ve over analyzed. Maybe there’s no way to pinpoint a society in three solid days. I hope so, because frankly I’m not sure I’ve any solutions. In any case, it’s got me thinking. So that’s a good thing…


I think.


1 Wiley Coyote { 06.05.08 at 10:28 am }


I love your blog! I love sharing in your African journey, as it is one place I have yet to go. It too makes me think. It reminds me of the need for social justice, everywhere. We are never far or free from the racial and social discriminations that plague many. Need we be reminded of Katrina and those who still have no homes. And Arizona…let me not get started about issues right now. Perhaps they are not black or white but what about Native Americans or immigration? I look forward to more about Africa and your journeys. You have come along way from that movie we shot in Flagstaff about the Postman! Thanks for your worldly insight and always making me think…and think some more. And by the way, Obama 2008!
Be safe,

2 jani { 06.05.08 at 6:37 pm }

Your adventure seems amazing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and the others that read your blog.

Stay safe


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