Common People

“Can I take your picture?” The three young women responded with blank looks at me before glancing to each other, shrugging their shoulders, either for lack of understanding or for signs of agreement amongst themselves. They were sprawled alongside the curb, amongst empty pails and sacks of red onions, tired, exhausted, scarves wrapped tight atopContinue reading “Common People”

Money Talks

“Have you gotten over the culture shock?” We are about an hour into our drive to the city of Cape Coast, having woven through conversations about Ghana, Canada, and Sweden. Kwame picked me up from the hotel at 7:00 am before a quick diversion to another for Anna who had already been in the countryContinue reading “Money Talks”

Scatterlings of Africa

We are on the road to Phelamanga*Beneath a copper sky It was an inauspicious start to the day, my last in South Africa. The 8:00 am pickup was delayed until 8:30; not a problem, more relaxing for breakfast. Out in front of the hotel promptly, I began pacing in the sun as each minute tickedContinue reading “Scatterlings of Africa”

Downtown

Things will be great when you’reDowntownNo finer place for sure The Playground, a market only open on Saturdays, is listed among a number of sights to visit in Johannesburg. My South African colleagues were not aware of the place, asking me to be more precise about the location. When I showed the map, they classifiedContinue reading “Downtown”

Wild Thing

You make my heart sing There was an understated anticipation on the mini bus. We exchanged the obligatory polite hellos, names and where are you from questions. Gerald travelled 30 hours from his home in Seattle to arrive in Cape Town before making a last second decision to join this tour. Sean is originally fromContinue reading “Wild Thing”

5 Days in May

My accent gives me away. People then leap to the assumption I am American, which I quickly correct before they ask if this trip is my first time in the country. My response immediately induces a smile and the understandable question: “So how do you like South Africa so far”? With a sheepish grin IContinue reading “5 Days in May”

Canadian Fiction in East Africa and India

The idea I am putting forward is that new Canadians bring their storieswith them, and these stories then become Canadian stories. Canada‚Äôs pastlies not only in the native stories of the land itself, but also in Europe, andnow in Africa and Asia; Canadians have fought not only in the World Wars,but also in the warsContinue reading “Canadian Fiction in East Africa and India”

Tanzania redux

I just finished M.G. Vassanji’s novel, The Book of Secrets. The story takes place in Tanganyika (German East Africa) and Kenya largely during the first World War years and into the aftermath of their independence. The protagonists gravitate between the cities of Moshi, Dar-Es-Salaam and the fictional Kikono; Voi, Mombasa and Nairobi respectively. The bookContinue reading “Tanzania redux”

Stop all the clocks, let the mourners come

I have been writing about my visit to Kamuli, Uganda for a submission to a memoir writing competition and in that process a re-examination of my time has led me into a deeper understanding of the events. In previous posts about my uncle, Father Kees de Cock, I had described my quest to affirm someContinue reading “Stop all the clocks, let the mourners come”