Epilogue

550 days, 42154 km

This is the last blog entry. We are back at home. And although ‘home’ is still our house in the truck, wherever it is parked, many things are very different. Instead of flip-flops we wear shoes again every day, with socks. This is weird and it’s not the only weird thing we experience on returning in Europe. We will attempt to write a short conclusion of all the things we’ve seen and experienced, but it still doesn’t get close to the real thing. Seriously, we could write a book and still miss out on many things.

First of all Africa is very different from the picture which is painted in the western media. On a hand we found an extraordinary beautiful and diverse continent, and on the other a grimy world full of inequality. The cultural differences with Europe are huge and this reflects in a complete other way of life. We should point out that the below reflects mainly to the countries south of the Sahara desert. Families still live together on the same piece of land, often under one roof, and everyone within the family looks after each other. The women are usually the key figure in daily life, taking care of most of the task in and around the house including the care for children, cattle and (agricultural) land. Men are head of the family and in most countries they herd the cattle. Religion, Christianity, is the guidance for pretty much everything. The use of contraceptives is still uncommon and women often give birth to more than five children, ten is not unheard of. Many people are hoping and waiting and praying for a miracle to happen. Besides Christianity the ancient or bush religions are still practiced too, though people seem to get more and more distant from their roots. There were a lot of football shirts, and even though all women still wear long skirts they don’t mind matching it with any shirt from the English Premier League. There are some places where the women still dress in beautiful traditional batik dresses and headpieces. The men all wear oversized trousers held up on the waste with a very tight belt and on the top some sort of shirt, also too large. Many things we do automatic or electric in Europe are still done manually in Africa. Mowing the lawn for example; this is done with a machete.  In every country we heard the annoying (Samsung) whistle announcing a text or whatsapp message arrived. Even in places where electricity was pretty much absent the smart phone was present, creating a business for phone recharging points. The dream of a life in Europe is widely spread, though the ideas people have of this life are as incorrect as the picture we have of Africa. The high cost of life and the cold temperatures (that make outdoor living impossible) are something they don’t take into consideration. They believe every white person is super rich and life is simply fantastic with all this money. Perhaps the influence of the NGO’s is apparent here. The question whether all the aid from western NGO’s is doing the continent well is way over our head. Clearly when a country is not looking after its people it can’t be bad if somebody else does. But, perhaps, we should have a closer look at who actually benefits the most from all the money that is pumped into Africa for so long now. We should become more aware of the consequences it has in the communities and question whether this is right or wrong. Having said that, we do have great respect for all the people who help, feed, educate and love the many Africans in need. It takes a lot of courage and determination to continue this much needed daily task. Corruption assures the small minority with all the money remains incredibly rich and the rest, basically all Africans except former group, stay uneducated and poor. With the example set by their leaders one can’t expect different behavior from its subjects. Corruption therefore exists in all layers of the communities. There is hope though. Many people try to help and do good, but the road is long and there are many obstacles on the way.

Another big topic is safety. We never felt unsafe during our trip, which is quite remarkable if you listen to the media. Isn’t it dangerous over there? A question we have been asked many many times, both by tourist and locals. The few times we were picked up by the police, for our own safety of course, they completely failed to explain where exactly the danger lay. The major cities can be dangerous, but outside the city there isn’t much to fear. We have always been treated with great respect, and were without exception welcomed with a smile. The times we have been invited to people’s homes they shared what they had with us. In rural villages people always took care of us and made sure we would sleep safe and sound. While driving people always waved and kids often ran along with the truck. There are many places crowded with people, but there still is a lot of true wilderness left. The kind you do not find anywhere else in the world. Seeing Africa on National Geographic is one thing, but actually standing right in the middle of it is something else. The perfect harmony of it really blew us away. Our (fantastic) truck really took us to the heart of the wild were we realized that humankind (in the western world) is so distant from nature. The wild life is really fantastic and it is so important that we protect the fragile environment so it can still exist in the future. Nothing beats the moment when an elephant walks past your truck on merely two meters distance. Or when two lions reproduce right next to you. Or seeing two hippos battle in the river. Or, well you get the picture.

We have made an incredible journey and are very thankful for that! It hasn’t been easy all the time; the many highlights stand opposite a few really difficult moments. However, there is no doubt that we will return to Africa at some point to travel to some of the places we missed out on this time and to visit those we loved the most once more.

We want to say thank you to all people who helped us before, during and after the trip. To all the filmmakers who contributed their film we say many thanks on behalf of us and many children across the continent. It was a real success and we have made many kids very happy with our cinema on wheels. And, finally, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading our reports as much as we enjoyed writing down and sharing our adventures with all of you.

Yours truly,

Anthony and Marije

Ps. Our truck is now for sale. Use the contact from for more information.

 

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3 comments

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Yeun-Yan (1 year ago)

Mooi geschreven, zoals alle verslagen.
Hoop tot gauw en geniet nog goed na van al jullie avonturen. X

nita scheepers (1 year ago)

Hallo Anthony en Marije,
Welkom thuis! Neem de tijd voor het wennen aan onze westerse wereld. Pole, Pole is een Afrikaanse uitspraak die je vast kent en ook hier verder brengt in de dagelijkse drukte.
Hopelijk ontmoeten we elkaar weer eens en kunnen we ervaringen uitwisselen.
Hartelijke groet, Nita

    kidavi (1 year ago)

    Hi Nita,
    Dank je wel. We gaan het rustig aan doen voorlopig en zullen elkaar hopelijk ergens treffen in de nabije toekomst.
    Groetjes Marij

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