There’s a tiny colonialist inside me.

I have no right to write about Africa, for her children

have done so with a poignancy I couldn’t begin to touch

(even if my skin were brown and I knew the secrets of perfect ugali).

But from my beginnings as a tiny, naked-footed, white kid, I hoped,

always hoped to be adopted by this land

whose beauty and diversity have been exploited and cast aside like

so many whores in a brothel (if you’ll forgive the rough image for rough actions).

Creativity stuffed into tourist shops, languages reluctantly accepting new words

(I heard tell that people gamble in English).

If I thought I could right any of these wrongs, I would, but

I have no right to be paternalistic, not even any

right to write about Africa.


Compassion means “to suffer with,” I remind myself as I watch

the mango trees and mountains and huts and travesties

of NGOs and development work carry on from the window of car as I ride

along the swath of red dirt that reads like a wound

through and upon the surface of this place I’ve dared to call my home.


Kipling, believe me when I tell you that the White Man’s Burden is that of a folly so great that its seduction lives in the hearts of even the most well-meaning among us.


About Leil_ish

I am restless and intensely curious about almost everything that most people don't care about.
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