What You Pursue – And What Pursues You In Africa



“Everybody gets scared sometimes, May Belle. You don’t have to be ashamed.”
(Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia)

My wife and I were sitting on the side of the road at the main round point in Sikasso, on January 2013. It was getting dark, and an older man walking by saw us and stopped. He began ranting at us in poor quality French.

However, body language, facial and hand expressions, with the odd caught word and phrase is enough to get the message sometimes.

The gentleman had some serious disdain on his face and was basically telling us, grand hand gestures, pointed and waging fingers included, how he hates us and wishes we would go away. This went on for thirsty seconds until the gentleman made a cutting of the throat gesture with his finger, and said something.

I am not certain which he said in his French. He either said he had killed an American (We are Canadian) one time by cutting his throat (while doing a throat cutting gesture with his finger), or he was saying Americans deserve to be have their throats cut.

That was out of the box. Either way it was alarming. I just kindly listened, and said thank you for taking time to make conversation with us, and he left. We did not make a scene, though Lynn was retreating being my arm and pulled me in close.

Either way, this made it a disconcerting experience, one, the likes of which, we have never had in Africa before, or since in over 20 years of working in French West, Africa.

There are many Malians resisting radicalism, and we need to support them.

What you pursue…. and pursues you….

“A friend, his wisdom anchored in his family’s exile from Uganda, offered advice in a noisy pub just before I departed: “For each of us there are two destinies.”
I swallowed the remnants of my beer while his mug remained full; I listened. “One is the destiny you pursue,” said Abdullah, finally taking a drink. “The other is the destiny that pursues you.”

(To Timbuktu For a Haircut. Rick Antonson )

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