It’s been a hectic old week, what with 2 days spent travelling back from the far north of South Sudan to Dar es Salaam, and then hitting the bureaucratic assault course of the Tanzania Fisheries/Livestock export department at a sprint that gradually ground to a gentle stroll and then a shuffle.
A 12 hour return taxi ride up through Saadanni national park to say hello to my dad who is teaching up in Pangani, and then one last 4 hour stint today at the airport to get some more papers.
I am now (briefly) the proud owner of a Tanzanian live-animal export licence, and two dogs are going to have the shock of their lives tomorrow when they find themselves cruising at an altitude of 32,000 feet on their way to Myanmar.
So I haven’t really had time to even think about writing, and as I am leaving Africa after living here for 5 years I want to take some time to put down those thoughts a little more coherently than I can at the minute. I’m excited to be moving on, and bitterly sad to be saying goodbye, exhausted and rushing around like an idiot, and not getting chance to stop and enjoy my last few hours.
Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to share something with you that I didn’t write, but that means a lot to me.
This is by one of my favourite poets, he’s from Marsden, which is in Yorkshire, and just down the road from where I lived for several years. If you haven’t heard of him there is plenty more of his work available on the internet and a collection of his poems can be bought from amazon here. He is Simon Armitage, a cracking bloke and an amazing wordsmith.
It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What It Does To You
I have not bummed across America
with only a dollar to spare, one pair
of busted Levi’s and a bowie knife.
I have lived with thieves in Manchester.
I have not padded through the Taj Mahal,
barefoot, listening to the space between
each footfall picking up and putting down
its print against the marble floor. But I
skimmed flat stones across Black Moss on a day
so still I could hear each set of ripples
as they crossed. I felt each stone’s inertia
spend itself against the water; then sink.
I have not toyed with a parachute cord
while perched on the lip of a light-aircraft;
but I held the wobbly head of a boy
at the day centre, and stroked his fat hands.
And I guess that the tightness in the throat
and the tiny cascading sensation
somewhere inside us are both part of that
sense of something else. That feeling, I mean.
I have a lot of wonderful memories, some amazing friends and a lot of unfinished business in Africa, and I know this is not goodbye, but “baadaye”, this continent has definitely done something to me. I might even tell you all about it one day…