A Reflection On Africa

A Guest Post from Noah LaBelle

“It’s different cultures that make the world go ’round at the end of the day.” -Samantha Fox

Noah LaBelle, 2017.

When I was about to start the trip to Africa, all I was thinking about was the mountain, not anything else about the trip as a whole. Not the fact that I would get to experience something that I had never experienced before. I had been to 2 different countries outside of the USA before I went to Tanzania, the UK and Canada. Before I flew from the Amsterdam airport to Kilimanjaro International Airport, my American body had never touched down onto second world soil, let alone be among the ones on third world ground. When people ask about the adventure, they only ask about the mountain. They have no idea it was so much more.

My father had warned me about the people in the market.  The young men and women, presenting their art while trying to act kind and win us over. I wanted not to be noticed, just to walk with our group of 6 around the town, but 6 white “westerners” we were like a light that moths were free to swarm towards. By the time we had started to turn back to our hotel, we had about 5 people trying to sell us their goods. One person had been with us ever since we pulled out our cameras to take a picture of an exotic flower. I recall wanting him to go away, so we could focus on examining any goods that we would want to purchase, but now I feel differently. If I wanted money for myself or my family, I would swarm to a group that was from a country with a higher GDP per capita that any African country, let alone over 60 times higher than the nation I was in.

On the other side of the spectrum, there was the Amani Center for Street Children.  The fact that kids run away from home so frequently that they needed to make a center to house the children, is very sad.  It just shows how different these types of nations are from our own. But, when the kids come to Amani, even if they are terrible to the instructors, they will always be welcomed in. Most schools in the USA wouldn’t take a child back after 3 major offenses to the rules.

All said and done, Tanzania’s culture and lifestyle is one very different than our own, but that doesn’t mean it is worse. Most people are just misinformed, like I was before I actually experienced it. Africa has done lots of amazing things, contrary to popular belief. For one, they helped to teach a boy to look at the smaller things in life more often. For that I’m grateful.