Saturday, February 23, 2013


American friends have asked me recently why Kurt and I have had so much bad luck in Africa.

We haven't.

And I'm not just saying that.  Everything that has happened to us here is part of normal life in a more challenged country.

-The car accident.  (Unsafe roads, unsafe cars, few laws, and little traffic enforcement = huge, huge cause of death and serious injury here.)

-The visa issues. (Bureaucracy is like rolling a dice when most individuals in the system make up their own rules and expect bribes.)

-The falling-apart newly renovated house. (Challenging getting quality equipment and tools here, as well as an educated laborer familiar with actual repair techniques.)

-The theft of our shipping container.  (Absolutely not shocking when there are millions of needy people, all with different values and ways of supporting extended families.)

-The car problems. (Here a new car costs its price + a 100% tax.  Therefore, the used car market is more successful here than anywhere in the world- cars are used and worn out exhaustively while being held together with tape and mold- no inspection requirements!)

-Electrocution. (I am the seventh person from my social circle- it's almost like joining a club!)

Bad luck in Africa is not bad luck at all.  It is normal life.  And it's the reason that human beings are so important to each other.  In challenging environments like our country, having good friends and helpful strangers makes life possible.  This love for valuing others is called the spirit of Ubuntu. "Ubuntu" -"I am what I am because of who we all are"- comes from the South African Zulu and Xhosa tribes. It is a word that describes a traditional African belief that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all people. Valuing ubuntu means carrying a spirit of humanity toward others. And in a continent that is gritty, raw, and real, being surrounded by ubuntu means everything.

We have indeed had our challenges here.  But we are constantly helped by loving individuals who get us right back on our feet for the next adventure this tough continent throws our way.  And that is anything but bad luck.