When I started this blog and this field work I thought I would be talking about how different and unique my experiences in Africa would be. Hence the blog name. Now that I am here however, I am more moved by the simularities I find between here and so many other places I have visited, lived, or worked. Don't get me wrong the Southern African flora and fauna are very unique but because of convergent evolution (I guess) the quiet, shy impala remind me of white-tailed deer and the bounding springbok remind me of pronghorn. The singing jackals-- coyotes? The sneaky mongoose---a weasel? The veld grassland reminds me of my prarie home in Manitoba and the breathtaking landscapes in Namibia made me nostalgic for Arizona. The people here are not so different either. Some of the political and social issues I am learning about are sadly very familiar to other places I have been. To the country I was born in.
Why did I expect South Africa to be an alien land? What is it about Africa that seems so foreign to me and other folks? I think one problem is ignorance. I know I am embarrassingly ignorant of all the different countries on this vast continent and I think that tends to create a lumping effect-- thinking of an entire continent as one country of "Africa".
This is Africa. It is so familar that it feels like home. Maybe it is because if you follow the family tree back long enough the roots are buried here in this red earth. We are all Africans. Maybe that's it.