By Chirine Hoballah
2 weeks ago Ian gave us a brief “Hometown” (which I failed a little by the way) and this week with the arrival of cold I miss my Hometown so much. People always look shocked when I tell them that I was born in Senegal and I spent 18 years in Africa. I often have questions like “Why are not you black?”, “Do you wear shoes there?”, “There are roads and cars?”.
On TV we tend to show us that Africa is misery, poverty, lions and giraffes, huts, sand everywhere. All this gives rise to clichés and aprioris. It’s a shame because of course there is no subway, neither Mcdo, no shopping center but it is a small town where it is good to live there. The sun caresses your skin 355 days out of 365, we fall asleep with the sounds of waves, we go to the beach every weekend, it’s summer all year long.
People are warm and live in peace.
I feel that wherever I go, your roofs will house the memories of my childhood and my
steps will return to your streets dotted with the imprints of eighteen wonderful years. I
take with me the warmth of your inhabitants and the feeling of being at home
nowhere, if not between your walls.
Amin Maalouf said “What makes me myself and not another is that I’m at the edge of two countries, two or three languages, many cultural traditions, and that is precisely what defines my identity. Would I be more authentic if I am amputating a part of myself? ” I love this quote because it’s so true and I recognize myself when I read this.
I am very proud of my origins, it makes me even more different and unique in a
certain sense. I am lucky to know completely different civilizations: Senegal,
Lebanon, France and now England. In all these countries the culture is not the same,
people don’t think the same and live differently. Each country has its own traditions
and culture, its own dishes, its own language, and you learn a little more about
yourself, alongside people who do not think the same and do not have the same
vision of life. When you see the poverty at your door, you realize how you are lucky
to have a roof, to live in a city as magical as Paris or London but you know that in the
end, you’ll end up coming home.
I wish everyone the chance to travel and discover because it opens the mind and makes you grow.