WHEN I was about 12 we had to draw and colour the map of Africa.
Although I enjoyed the art aspect of the assignment I clearly remember my lack of general interest, as I’d never be going there.I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When trying to get my first work permit in Spain, before we joined the EEC, I was recommended to go to the British Consulate in Tangiers to stamp my papers.
The trip didn’t get me my papers and the weather was so bad I was trapped there for three days until the boats could cross the straits safely back to Spain.
I didn’t dare venture from my hotel room until the moment I was about to leave, marked for life by the feeling of poverty and under-development that was so very tangible and so very different to the world I had just come from.
The only thing that kept my fear at bay was reminding myself that all I had to do was hold out for a few days until the weather improved.
For thousands of Africans however, even in our ‘modern’ times, a chance of leaving means risking their lives and all too frequently so does staying at home.
It’s kind of sad that we can live and work side by side with people who can be going through such extreme experiences but we can be completely oblivious to them.
Particularly in Marbella we are blessed with unique opportunities to learn so much about so many, but perhaps because of the seemingly endless flow of knock-off products passing by with more frequency than the waves breaking on the shore we are forgetting to notice and get to know the really cool people who are selling them.
For example, did you know that some of our ‘lookey lookeys’ are from Cameroon and Nigeria but that the vast majority are from Senegal, and the vast majority of those from the Wolof tribe? Had you ever even heard of the Wolof tribe, or the Wolof language, or the Wolof dance or thought how amazing it is that we have African tribesmen living in our midst?
I’ve always found it exciting to know that in Marbella we get a chance to dance flamenco, do an Irish jig, or even a traditional folk dance in our local world celebrations if we want to, but how cool would a tribal Wolof celebration be?
It certainly is anything but relaxing and can literally drive you to insanity when you’re trying to nap on the beach or dine with friends to be thrown the same sales pitch time after time, but if we do have a moment to chat and you make an effort to be interested in the person, we will have at least extended the same courtesy as we would to any other fellow Marbellí, and that to me is about as ‘bueno, bonito and barato’ as it gets!