My Acquaintance With Africa
I thought I knew enough about Africa, this wonderful and strange continent with a hot tropical climate and a wealthy nature, which is populated by many different nations and tribes. I saw many movies, mostly about African nature and often read newspapers or magazines about frequent wars and economical problems. But I never made acquaintance with people who originated from Africa. Thus, it was really interesting to talk, even if a little to my classmate Kadra, who not long ago, two years, came here from the small East African country Djibouti. I was interested in how she has lived and thought and what problems have worried this young, beautiful black woman.
In the period of two years, since I came from Ukraine and have lived in Chicago, I have known six or seven Afro-Americans. Although we worked together we had never talked about their problems. Maybe, it isn’t done among the black people, all the more among the Americans. So, I really know nothing about native Africans. No wonder I always thought they are very poor, not well educated and cut away from world civilization. It was a big surprise when Kadra told me that she finished high-school in her motherland and what’s more in French, which is the second, after her native Arabic, official language in Djibouti. Kadra speaks English sufficiently, clearly expresses her thoughts and doesn’t stop to find the suitable words as I often do. She plans to continue going to college in order to get a degree in English, find a better job and probably go back to motherland where she can teach English to her compatriots.
Of course, Kadra told me about her native country Djibouti, which I know nothing about. It is a beautiful country located on the East coast of Africa, on the shore of the Red Sea. The territory, divided into a low coastal plain, with mountains behind, and an interior plateau, is arid, sandy, and desolate. The climate is generally hot and dry. Two main ethnic groups, Somali and Afar, live there and almost all people profess the Muslim faith. It’s a republic and the head of state is a president. The economy is a weak development and people often go to other countries hoping to find a job.
I was interested that people in Djibouti are mainly Muslim, to whom I never talked before. So I began to ask questions about this topic and discovered the huge, mysterious, and alien Islamic world. It seems to me religion has great importance for Kadra; it is her spiritual universe, it’s like her second ?I?. It is strange that in the USA, with its furious rate of life, with its interlacing of nations, cultures, religions and as a result- a prevailing ideology of idealism, on the top of which is ?I? and ?myself?, Kadra continues to live in her closed Muslim world. I found many new things in her world and heard about the customs and laws ascribed to respect and help older people and parents. Muslims are not allow drinking alcohol, never using drugs and are faithful in marriage. I found that Islam allows getting divorced, if a man or woman doesn’t love anymore. It changed my assumption about a woman in the Islamic world as a slave who carries her own cross to the end of her life. On the other hand, I have understood, or to be more specific, I felt how dangerous and awful is Islam. Since childhood Kadra has followed Muslim laws, gone to the Muslim school and known only this world because she lived among people who blindly submitted to Islam’s canons. When I asked her how her world outlook has changed for the last two years and how she imagines her future life here, in the USA, I was shocked by her firmness to live further in the Muslim world and her confidence that nothing can change. At first it seems she, as do most of us, works, goes to college, and drives a car. From the outside she looks like everyone, nothing particular, but what acts in this young soul, as though the black darkness covers her. I had this feeling when he told me her husband, relatives and all her friends are Muslims and only among them she has found happiness. Then I noticed she talks with hardly hidden disgust to other people (I understood that for her the ?other? means the people not other race, nation or culture, but who don’t profess her religion). She truly believes Muslim is the best religion and all people must go only this way. Also she believes she will keep her religion not only for herself but also for her future children and the American way won’t change them. When I question her about the assimilation, she had no idea about that, but she was unflinching in her belief when I explained to her what it is. What godly innocence and desperate firmness!
Very often I have thought about the main point of a life and long ago I made the conclusion that the main in this world is a human with her/his willingness to know a new and property to a selfimproving. How interesting it is to discover something new and how thrilling to communicate with other people from different countries, and with other races, religions and cultures. So, I think about Kadra, about her tragedy- to live in such free, interesting country as is the USA and voluntarily keep herself in the dark world of the Muslim. But I never stop to hope that the fresh wing of change will touch her and that she will open her eyes and heart, and finally find her really happy place in the blessed Washington land.