AFRICA Clicks…Beginning..Suzanne’s Guest Blog

I am often asked the question, why Africa? Sometimes I would like to respond by saying, why do you love your spouse? The truth is sometimes you don’t know why, you just do. It is they way it is. You feel a pull to a person or a place and the ‘Why’ really doesn’t matter, it just is. 

I do however have a why. We hear so often the problems with Africa, and how ‘we’ can fix it. “There is so much poverty and corruption.” “AIDS is an epidemic worse in Africa then anywhere else.” “We need to help them.” 

When I am in Africa, although I see poverty and I have toured areas were starvation is definitely mission critical, I see something very different. I see happiness, contentment and giving. I have always said, “There is nothing that can warm my heart more than an African smile.” The children will often run up to you hold your hand, touch you, and welcome you. They run to you not away. When you visit a community or school you are greeted with song and celebration. When you go to a person’s home, they welcome you to their palace, even if it is a one room tin hut. They are proud, and they are not trying to compete in a material world. They seem to be satisfied.  Of course this is not everywhere and not every one, but this is my experience. I know Africa and every country in it is not perfect, but I also know that in North America nor are we. 

I do think we can learn from Africa. I think we can learn to be more of community focused, more giving to our neighbour, smile more, and cry less. I do think that we can learn to be satisfied with what we have and not be so materialistic. I do feel that we should welcome people with pride with a smile on our face and love in our heart. I think we should be a country, community and continent of WE, and not ME. 

We can teach Africa too. I am a very proud Canadian and I am blessed with what I have and what I have achieved because I am in a country of opportunity. But to some degree I am ready to leave that behind for now, to pursue something much more simple – genuine gratitude. 

As I embark on this journey I know I will learn more about the African culture, about my husband, about me and about we. For the last few months while I wind down some of my Ignite Excellence training and business responsibilities and preparing for the business and philanthropic journey ahead, it has felt like I have little time to breath. My goal over the last few months was to set a foundation for opportunity with new initiatives. Mike and I have sold almost everything and I am very aware that we need to have something to come back to. Mike and I are in our mid 40’s and I do want to be smart about our financial future. So although we are going to Africa with charity in our hearts, we are also trying to be practical about our future.

This is the first time we have worked together, spent every waking hour together and travelled for over a month together. This blog will focus not on what we left behind but what we are walking into – you, me and we.  This blog will encapsulate a true celebration of Africa, our relationship and my journey.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Good Greatsby
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 21:58:41

    Good for you. I’ve lived abroad for many years and have always hoped something would take me to Africa some day. I look forward to hearing about your experience.

    Reply

  2. Penny
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 20:16:20

    I like Eliz’s comment. It sums up my sentiments of this post in all of her details. If we travel to each others countries with an open heart to learn and exchange ideas, then, the goal of adopting an equal global vision will be closer. How true, there are many who look at others with a pointed finger-searching for their weaknesses and failures-its when we all come together for sharing our thoughts, do we learn something about our different cultures and ways of thinking-learning more about ourself in the process.

    Safe travels-looking forward for updates in future posts-regarding your visit to Africa.

    Reply

  3. judithhb
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 16:58:17

    I have never visited any part of Africa but on reading Kuki Gallman’s “I dreamed of Africa” I set out on a quest to learn more about the country.
    Mostly when visiting other countries we see only what tourists see. How can it be otherwise when we have a short time to visit. But for you it will be different. You will have the time to meet the people and hopefully, make life long friends. You will also be able to keep the rest of us informed as to what is really going on among the general populace.
    Good luck and safe traveling.
    Judith

    Reply

  4. eof737
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 07:30:29

    Hi BB, Suzanne & Mike,
    I’m glad to read your follow up post and wish you a safe and productive journey. Please keep in mind that Africa is a continent with many diverse cultures, languages, people and beliefs; just like in Europe. One thing that many of us complain about is that often people in the west talk about Africa as if it is one country; it is not. For example, there is no such thing as an “African smile.” Is there a European smile? I don’t think so…
    I don’t know which countries you have visited on the continent or plan to visit. It would be best to refer to them specifically as that would be most helpful to people who’d like to hear about your journey and/or don’t know much about the continent. Each country has its own unique quality, and while we refer to each other as brothers/sisters, we are very proud of our different cultures/ways of life.
    Are you familiar with the complex history, colonial legacy, the cultures and natural resources on the continent? Are you familiar with the politics and relationships that exist between African nations and the global powers? Are you familiar with the role of NGOs, the influence of the World Bank, the UN, donor organizations/nations and more? Are you familiar with the complex trade agreements on imports/exports and the disbursement of resources?
    If you remain sensitive to these matters, it will be a positive exchange and all will benefit. As you said above, there are problems in every country in the world; that is true! There are poor people everywhere and no country in the world has won a Nobel price for eliminating poverty and corruption. The first step is friendship and a willingness to look, listen and learn…
    The internet has made the world a true global village and while traditional cultures remain everywhere in our world, people are not ignorant about the rest of the world. If we travel to each others countries with an open heart to learn and exchange ideas, then, the goal of adopting an equal global vision will be closer. You can tell that I am passionate about this subject because I care and I believe that there is plenty of room for all of us to learn from one another. :-)
    Eliz

    Reply

    • bridgesburning
      Apr 23, 2011 @ 21:07:01

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Your input is so valuable. I forwarded your message directly to Suzanne!
      Chris

      Reply

      • suzanne
        Apr 24, 2011 @ 02:13:37

        I will add to your comment, as I could not agree more. Look, Listen and learn … but I will add another comment –do not judge. I am in Kenya, and have been here several times; as well I have travelled to several other African countries and trained 20 people from different countries in the same room. I, like you, are well aware of different cultures. I live in Canada, and am often referred to as an American and we are different!
        I have travelled to more than 40 countries, were I have opened my mind and my heart everywhere I have gone. Not only are there no two cultures alike, there are no two people. This is where my 11 years being the founder a communications company with the sole objective to challenge people’s thinking that you should never treat two people the same. We are all motivated differently. That being said, I do love Africa. And I do love the African smile that I have experience in 5 countries, training people from 20 countries, and I cannot possibly know how many tribes. I do not apologize for saying something positive about this diverse continent with 53 countries which we will have the pleasure to visit at least half of. We are not all ignorant, and I see your passion, bravo! But we are not the people that have not left our backyard. We are the ones that are looking, learning, listening and loving the experience. We are, like many, celebrating all that is good in various countries. And I don’t think that should be condemned or scolded but celebrated. Your passion is admired; I just wonder if you made an assumption base on your experience – we are all different, with different experiences and different ways of expressing ourselves. Celebrate what is good with what we are doing, not to judge us.

        Check out Wisdom Exchange TV (www.wisdomexchangetv.com), or African Business Women Summit drawing all African countries together, or Ignite Excellence Inc. or Ignite Excellence Foundation.org. All of which are celebrating, African women, communication, and Women of Africa talking about their culture differences, unique leadership skills and them as an individual, not to mention international trade. We are doing our due diligence not to assume everyone is the same. Are you?

        Thank you all for your support! Selling everything we own to listen, learn and live was the best decision we made.

      • bridgesburning
        Apr 24, 2011 @ 10:15:46

        Thank you Suzanne for taking the time to answer when you are so busy helping women every where to grow and become!
        Your work over the years, including your donated work in Africa and elsewhere, is making such a huge impact!
        We cheer you on with glowing hearts!
        Chris

      • bridgesburning
        Apr 24, 2011 @ 10:22:41

        I have always found it amazing, the incredible work you have done in so many places. I have always been in awe of how much you accomplish when you have the same twenty-four hours in a day we all have. I also know that from your first trip, somehow Africa stirred you to the core, and a love affair with a continent and it’s people began, and the passion only grows!
        Now that is love!
        Chris

  5. Kieran Hamilton
    Apr 23, 2011 @ 06:44:12

    I would love to go and work in Africa, I study Psychology and Sociology and I have always thought about work with one of the many NGO’s over there. I know others who have gone to places like the Gambia and have also come back with tales about some of the nicest, happiest people they have ever met, despite their lack of material goods. I think you’re right, we could all definitely learn something from these people.

    Reply

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