Riding bumpily on the muddy stretch of land which they call roads, we were busy confirming appointments with representatives of various oil companies who have a strong presence in this part of the world (Port Gentil in Gabon). I was accompanied by a Gabonese guy who was entrusted with the joint responsibility of driving me to the respective offices and be the French-English translator wherever required.
The meetings went well…enlightening to be precise. It’s a great experience to understand how culturally diverse people can be. But I don’t intend to go in-depth into how people work here. I will rather like to look back into the dreams of a simple African…or shall I say the dreams of a simple man!!!
This guy should be in his late thirties…its difficult to estimate the ages of people. A native of Togo, he had moved into Gabon in the pursuit of a better life. These days, he has been granted Gabonese citizenship and has well adopted to the nuances of the new culture. So have his wife and daughter.
He studied basic English in Togo and has transformed that little knowledge into his profession now. It really amazed me when I tried to map his fluency in English to his educational qualifications. Hardly a couple of years of English training and when I had asked this guy if he will guide me during the next three days he had responded “you are our customer and I will ensure that there will be no problems…”. What was striking is not the usage of words but the way they were pronounced….the kind of pronunciation which adds humility into the tone…which, according to me, is the most sophisticated form of delivering any language.
During our drives, we talked…I learned that his was a love marriage and that he had first met his wife in his Togo school as a kid. It’s always interesting when people open up and start speaking out…He spoke about his life in Gabon…the difficulties he had faced when he moved to Gabon for the first time….the kind of differential treatment which the outsiders are almost always exposed to. It took him years to reach a position of relative stability. The word stability is very dilute in its strength when used in Africa…yet he was quite happy with his stability in life.
This man…Francois…is now a proud possessor of a small land and he dreams to have his own home on this land someday. That day, he says, he will have his dream fulfilled….his dream of a family with a home.
(Sometimes, when I see people struggling so hard in life, I realize how privileged I am…just by being lucky enough)