Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Dear Dad and Mom,
I have to believe,not only hope, that you are all fine.
If I will say I am not fine, a bit confused, deeply thinking, the white man will have no choice but to admit me for clinical depression. That is how it goes down here, quite different from how such incidents are handled back there. A long tiresome trip to the village to see grandparents and play with old friends at a nearby river, fish using the self-made gadgets does it all.

Understanding and acknowledging that depression is a fact of life, every now and then, I also have to appreciate the fact that it is handled differently,from country to country. I guess this is another cultural abnormality that this world, great world, survives on.

Sometimes I don’t know why I am writing instead of just calling.Aren’t we living in modern erra? Perhaps I know why I am writing instead of using Alexander Bell’s little magic, it is because of what you all told me, at different occassions, a pen is mightier than a sword! That is one of the ethical teachings that never evaporated, even after so many years of life. I am over three decades old now,just imagine!

After a long time I managed to take a vacation. I am not comfortable using the word “vacation”. I am still used to word “leave” just like how the late Mr.Flugence (my grade three teacher) taught me. That man was a real copycat of a british. Everything about him was “british” eenh? God, some people are born to be not just wild but to be wild creatures. Now, on this part of the world, a vacation comes as a rare star to be seen. That same star grandma used to tell us “if you happen to see it, make a wish of anything and it will be true”. Did I ever tell you that one evening I saw that star and all I could mention was “go to Canada”? Is that why I am here today? What a wish!

Before my vacation ended, I thought it brilliantly to sit down and analyze few things about our world today. The reason is, I feel like I am now living during completely different time from the one you lived. That makes it practically impossible for you and me to be the same, doesn’t it? Honestly, I think it’s the differences are more real here than down there where my ugly friends in the media calls it “developing world” It’s worse here than there. I guess people there still have some rooms left for better change. They can learn from others’ mistakes. Out here, its almost dawn.

It all started when I attended this year’s AfroFest. I hope you still remember what is it I am referring to. Yes-same annual event, same place I met uncle Tanga last year. I also took this picture because the man did very well in drumming. He totally reminded me of those days when grandpa used to take me to harvest celebrations. Unfortunately, this man is not from Tanzania but Ivory Coast. His name is Amara Kante. He somehow reminded me of my cousin Kunte,don't they look alike?

Today we have bigger houses and smaller families,more conviences,but less time. Mom, how many are you in your family? Do you remember the first house you had to live with your siblings,how small it was? Things are different nowadays. Can you believe that my friend Ntyangiri has bought a house with twenty-one rooms? And you know what,shshshhhhh, he is not married yet!

Today we have more degrees,less common sense, more knowledge but less judgement. I know dad will brag about his three degrees. I tell you what dad, I have like ten friends here who have seven degrees each. That makes me look like a kindergaten kid when I am with them. They will talk of calculas to rocket science, of poetry to hip hop music,of ipod to mp4!Imagine.However, these friends can’t even know how to differentiate a man from a woman! Please don’t ask me what I mean here.

Is it not true that today we have more experts but more problems? More medicine but less wellness? We have experts on almost everything. Will you be surprised if I told you that we have experts of even the village where you come from? Someone has studied and researched Chomvu in and out. He has become an authority,more than great grandpa who was born,raised and died right there. We have more medicine,of every single part of our bodies.But come one morning to the hospital where I take my bus every morning and see how many people are waiting for the hospital doors to open, they are all sick! By the way do you think great grandpa will raise from the dead while he died without ever believing in any organized religion? What is the fate of such people?

In our times, we spend too recklessly,laugh too little,drive too fast,get angry too quickly,stay up too late,get up too tired,read too little,watch too much tv and pray too seldom. Now don’t condemn me that I have left the values that you raised me into. What can I do Mom and Dad, circumstances doesn’t allow me to change any of the above,but I am trying,very hard.

In here, we have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. Possessions matters more than us. People will easily kill you for what they call high definition tv set. We talk too much,love too little (we have not time for love). We talk too much,at work its about meetings,conferences,debates etc,talk talk.At home when we try to rest, telemarketers will never let you have a sleep,talk talk. But the worst thing is that we lie too often. I know, this is not how you raised me, I am sorry.But in here,I have to lie. What do you think I will do to have my credit application approved?What do you think would happen if I will not lie that I didn’t get the bill letter from the power company and that is why I never paid the bill on time?

This world have led most of us into learning how to make a living but not a life. We have added years to life but not life to years. This is our world, our confused world where we spend more but have less,we buy more but enjoy it less. We simply don’t have directions.

When I walk around, I see taller buildings but short tempers among people. I daily come across wider highways but narrow viewpoints. Yesterday I heard a scientist relating global warming with temper and even killings among people. More people are shot at and killed during hot summer seasons than winter. Ohh my God, I can’t wait for winter then.

Dad,do you remember the NASA stories you used to tell me? This society have been all the way to the moon and back,right? Why then do you think they have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor? Did I tell you that I moved to a new building,twenty storey,but I know only one neighbor?

Mom and Dad,I wish I had time today to write more. I will write more about this world as soon as I get time. Greetings to everybody.



queen of light and joy said...

Jeff, what a BEAUTIFUL letter. So well written, full of life, passion and truth.

Anonymous said...

One of the most articulate,important letter I have ever read.

jim kirkwood said...

africafiles said..
wonderful humorous cross cultural comparison of African and western values; we need to find/keep more of African village values for the sake of life.