Creative Writing – Life in Africa as the White Man Arrives
Hello my name is ! Nick, I reside in the Dobe area, and I struggle daily to meet basic essential needs for survival. I’m 17 and I keep to myself if at all possible. Every day is labor intensive and tiring. Our tribe leader ! Megan, a very strong but delicate woman, fights for land and makes group decisions. I do not know what our future will be. This life is a tradition which is all I know. We are steadily increasing in size and this is becoming a problem due to the fact we need more water, food, shelter. I don’t understand why we keep moving around like this. !Huma is a wonderful time of year.
With these spring rains, brings a restored order to my wilderness. My environment has new growth and is flourishing. This brings me hope of another year without starvation and death, but only time will tell. Our rainfall is inconsistent and so far its turning out to be a great start compared to our last ! Gaa. When it rains it allows our waterhole to refill, plants to grow, animals to reproduce, and most of all raise moral amongst our great tribe. More days have gone by and more resources have been gathered. This prosperous season is this blessing we have been praying for. All of our plants are sprouting.
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This is a great site to see. Soon there will be a surplus of non-meats. My favorite snack is mongongo nuts. I gather these nuts to do my part by contributing back to the tribe, however I usually keep a few back for myself so I can eat them late at night. It seems the other members aren’t working very hard and aren’t doing their part to contribute. How am I supposed to tell ! Megan? How am I going to present her with this problem? I don’t want the other members to gang up on me. Is this what I get for keeping a few nuts to myself? Maybe I’ll put them all in the bag next time.
This rain is starting to get to me. Everything around me is decaying and rotten because of the water. My shelter really needs improved, but every time I fix it, we are getting ready to move. Moving is our way of life and I feel like I’m always on the run. I’m never settled down and it is as if I have zero security. There is no particular way I can ever feel safe living this way. I have heard stories on my travels of White men that visited other local areas and have seen their gifts. I wonder when the White man will bring me gifts. I could use some of their amazing objects. I’m very curious if !
Megan will ever decide to settle down in one place. There must be another place. Other tribes are settling down and building villages. Why can’t I live in a village? Someday maybe we’ll all have a village to call home and not a rotten shelter. Bara is finally here! More rain, but still more food. It’s so hot. There seems to be no escape from the heat unless you stand directly in the rain. Oh well at least I’m almost ready to hunt. While modifying my bird trap I began to hear a commotion on the other side of our recent gathering site. I heard shouting laughter and I didn’t know what to make of it.
I also heard a noise I could not describe. It was like a whiny thunder, no more of a wrapping of sticks back and forth against a shelter, no, what is it? It was a cart, with no animals pulling it. This I do not understand. As it drew closer and closer I became terrified, but ever so curious. It has smoke coming out of a pipe on the back! It is on fire! Now I don’t know what to do. I’m going to pick up my spear. Just as the burning cart comes into range I see a strange figure that I am unfamiliar with. It is a person! As the car comes to a stop the noise and smoke suddenly stop too.
The first day of the White man, this was an exciting day. Had he come for me? Had he brought me gifts, food, useful tools? Is he here to take our land or hurt us? He motioned his hand in a way as a symbol to fight but he did not look threatening with that smile on his face. We were at a standoff. We did not want to approach this ! hohm, nor did he come towards us. After about an hour of staring at each other, ! Megan declared ! Keegan and I go and enquire about the White man’s business on our land. As we come near to him, he holds out something. It is an odd fruit like food.
It seems his intentions are good but I’m not letting my guard down. Then he began to speak. He has such a whiny voice I thought. !Keegan and I turned to each other and burst into laughter. !Keegan thought the same thing I did. Finally the White man began laughing to. He reached out and shook my hand violently. I assume this is how he introduces himself. So I stomped on his foot. He yelled at me and I didn’t understand. This is how I say hello. Why can’t he understand? These White men aren’t as smart as they look. I hope he brought something for me. Many days have past.
The white man is very curious about our culture and habits. We are attempting to communicate and have learned about each other quickly. He distinguishes himself as John Tolbert. He also explains in drawings that he’s going to stay for a while. This is great news for our tribe and myself especially. John has shown us many things he calls “pictures” and reveals beauty of foreign lands. In return, he wishes to learn as much as he can about our culture. We began to give him more permanent accommodations. After all, it isn’t easy foraging and hunting for 50 ,but now 51.
It seems John doesn’t like our food, but he will just have to get use to it. +_Tobe is coming soon, so maybe John will enjoy the berries and nuts opposed to our meat. +_Tobe always bring cheer to the tribe, but always means preparation for ! Gum as we will need lots of berries and nuts to make it through the cold. John has been avidly following us around, and he has good reason. !Megan has decided to make the transition, the transition to a more permanent place of living. John explains he wishes to keep a record of everything and share it with his world.
The switch to farming and herding is well respected by the younger crowd, as the elders are reluctant to change. However, change can be a good thing. !Keegan and I embrace the new decision and are making the preparations for permanent residence. Official territories are being drawn today and plans are made for next ! Huma. The elders are fighting over what is to be shared with other tribes. There are ten watering holes and the majority of them fall on our territory. These watering holes are a key point for agricultural gains. We must allow our livestock a drink, and provide our plants with water.
The past year we have been blessed with much rain, which allowed growth in nature to provide us with a massive food reserve for the cold months to come. We are cultivating the land in preparation for ! Huma. John has brought pictures of crops and the best farming tips and techniques. Much is to be learned from this man. He is not a very hard worker and he is always behind that camera. Oh well, at least he brought the skills and knowledge to help us be successful in our transition. The pictures show successful crop growing in long rows right next to each other. This doesn’t seem possible to me.
I ask myself how do the bushes and tress do this. This isn’t natural. I will soon hold the power to nature and possess the skills to feed my tribe. !Megan is very proud of me and wants me to step up and take a more active role in the tribe. I told her that I accept and I’m willing to take charge of the agriculture for production of crops, since I had been spending the most time with John learning about farming. She has also instructed ! Keegan to be in charge of the new livestock to be purchased next ! Huma. He seems intimidated by the task, because everything is brand new to us as a tribe.
My English is very poor and John’s speech is worse. He is quite the artist though and we do our best communications through drawings. John and I continually participate in hxaro. I give him arts and crafts the women make and he gives me tools. I feel its well beyond a fair trade, being that our tribe’s religious creations are sacred. My most recent tool he brought was a wheelbarrow. This thing is great! It really helps make everything more efficient. You can haul back more than 10 mens’ collections in one trip. We collect so much at once, that we are running out of berries and nuts to gather.
The worst days of ! Gum have set in. The wheelbarrow really helped us secure our food reserve for this season. It seems like it is becoming increasingly difficult for John to film us out here in the cold, but he still tries everyday. I have been studying with John weekly about this new way of life and what it shall bring, but what it will actually bring is unknown. The anticipation for the new arrangement is growing daily and I hope the new season brings rain. More white men have visited and John is becoming distant. He has spent 4 seasons here living with us and we have both learned so much from each other.
I don’t understand why he is avoiding me. I fear John will be leaving soon. He hasn’t said anything about it, but I have an idea. How will I turn all of this learning and hard work into a row of crop that will actually yield? He can’t leave now. A few days have passed and word has spread of John’s near future departure from our land. It breaks our heart and I don’t know why he is leaving now. We both have so much unfinished business, and its unfair of him to just leave me here without seeing the new projects through. I explained this to John and he expressed to me that he was sorry for leaving but he has to go.
He says we can make it through this, just stick to the plan. We said our goodbyes and gave John a formal departure and ceremony. We John’s car drove away we all had a sense of fear come over us. Many questions were asked. Regret was setting in. We should have followed the food. We should not have settled down. These are things being said amongst the men and woman of our tribe. It makes me wonder if John had ruined us, if he had ruined our way of life. In the back of my mind, I know either way we will adapt and overcome all obstacles.