I am not trying to save the world. I am even dubious about how much of a “difference” I can make to anyone’s lives. But there is one life that I have to power to change, and that is my own.
In the past few years, I have made some close friends from countries in conflict. They are all refugees, by obligation or by choice, and have come to Germany in the hope of a better life. For Europe holds for them opportunities that are simply unimaginable back home. Some of them speak of atrocities: bombings, murder, rape and corruption, with such normality and without a hint of emotion in their voices. I cannot see how it can come to this.
What I want to understand is their side of the story. Why was I given the privilege of being born in the West; in Heaven on Earth, instead of in Hell? My nationality allows me to go through life with safety and a sense of security, literal and financial, without feeling threatened every step of the way. Why do black Africans not have these privileges? In our schools, we are made to believe that we can accomplish anything. We are filled with the importance of our own lives and can’t wait to begin living. I have since learned that not all lives are this valuable, due to the inequalities in this world. In Europe, we watch our television screens with expectation and momentary concern as the 2nd class citizens of the world endure more suffering, then press the button to switch it off and continue with our lives. I want to force myself to open my eyes and see.
The only way to truly understand is to see these things with my own eyes.
What’s more, I would like to experience some of the positive qualities at the heart of the African culture, which I feel have been lost or long forgotten in the modern world. Namely a sense of community, sharing, giving, faith, and a strong bond with nature. In the modern world, money, greed, competition and over-consumption have swallowed up many of these human values. We have been feeding on the evil side of human nature and are even destroying our natural surroundings as a result. That is not to say that kind acts do not happen every day, but they appear to be few and far between. I want to explore my spiritual being, rediscover my basic human needs and instincts and reconnect with nature: what better place to do this than the continent where civilization was born.