Contemplating while barefoot on the grounds my father and grandfather walked, I saw my life clearly. With African sun nibbling on my dark skin and gentle winds soothing my foreboding, my past life and current responsibilities overwhelmed me occasionally. Abundant tears flowed freely. Dripping on my face and clothes. Travelling through the ancient roads created by my forefathers, grasslands, trees and anthills kept me company. A lonely journey. I knew that nothing remains the same, but ones past never changes. Even in the loneliness of my past, I accepted that you cannot effectively go forward without knowing how and where you started your journey. Even in that state of near dejection I was aware that my sojourn in foreign lands is not forever, but my lording of this beautiful land, my own Africa, where my spent body will finally rest someday, is for eternity. Nothing remains the same, but nothing ever changes. It depends on how you look at your life.
Fidelis O Mkparu, author of ‘Tears before Exaltation’
The sun rose this morning failing to dissipate the haze barely hanging above the palm fronds. A windy morning, and that inner feeling of something different about to start. A sub-Saharan harmattan; a blow of kiss with a tender chill. A chill not suited for a fireplace, but soothed by a soft sweater draped across my aging shoulders. When I close my eyes, I felt what I assumed to be teardrops on my feet. The manifestation of my ambivalence about the many years of my sojourn in foreign lands. I escaped from a state of despair as the harmattan wind blows, whistling and whispering my name across pine trees. I am home in Africa.
Fidelis O Mkparu (2018), Author of ‘Tears Before Exaltation’
I set out at night from Atlanta. No wind, or snow. Hovered over the Atlantic Ocean for thirteen hours. Sleepless night. Patience has become a part of me. Landed facing west. The glitter of setting sun. Hazy sky, and a gentle breeze. Harmattan kiss. It blows on you, mimicking onset of common cold. I remember the gloomy feeling. Lassitude.
Three hours of sleep on a borrowed bed. Watched international news until 4 am. Shaved, and showered. Arrived at the local airport in Lagos by 6 am. Long lines of travelers, and touts. Scam experts, and helpers. Grateful. Found saints, and not sinners. Security check with hustlers. Survived the pat downs. Ten hours of wait at the departure lounge. False flight updates every hour. Flights delayed, or cancelled. I became weary in the hall of departure. The real reason for delays eventually announced. Harmattan hijacked the sub-Saharan sky. Without electronic instrument-guided landing, the pilot would be lost in the haze.
As late evening approached, they asked us to board. We milled around, lacking vigor, and excitement. Three hundred miles of bumpy sky, I reached the second leg of my journey. With my driver, and security detail, we set out for my ancestral home. Not far from the banks of the river Niger. I arrived after sunset in sub-Saharan haven. My ancestral home. As the gate to my compound opened, I was overwhelmed with youthful exuberance. I knelt on the soil for the people that lorded before me. My ancestors. Renewal of our covenant. Never to become a profligate. This is where my soul belongs.
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