Tag Archives: africa


13 Dec

I was working on a little hospital, somewhere in a little village in Africa. I had to mix sand, cement and water to make mortar. It was heavy work. But there was an African boy helping me. He looked younger than he was, but he was stronger then he looked. A hard life made him tough, I guess. He didn’t speak English, like the other boys of his age, because he didn’t have money to go to school long enough. I could see that he was frustrated because he couldn’t talk to me like the others. But he made it clear to me that he had something important to say.

‘Mimi nakupenda’

I knew what it meant. But he didn’t trust that, he didn’t know if my Swahili was good enough to get the message.
I drew a hart in the sand. He nodded. I got it.
But to be sure, he came to me again, the next day. He must have asked his friends for the translation in English.
The first time he said it, I didn’t understand his pronunciation. He said it again:

‘I love you’

I understood. I made it clear that I already knew that. I smiled. What more was there to say?

I will never see him again. But I think about him a lot.
Even though we have a completely different life, even though we didn’t speak the same language, even though we knew we would never see each other again, we completely understood one another in that one special place and moment.

But here, in real life, sometimes I have the feeling that communication is impossible. How is it that all our computers and blogs and facebookaccounts and television seem to make real conversations so hard?