When I used to think of Africa, my first thoughts were of children running around barefoot in shabby clothing, and women walking with anything and everything balanced on their heads. Both of those things have proven to be quite the fact. Sometimes when I go shopping, someone will undoubtedly assist this helpless American by carrying my stuff on their heads to my house. I just walk beside them in admiration that they can do this, and secretly, am thrilled that I'm not lugging these bags.
The other day, I was particularly overloaded with things to bring home having come from that 2 week misery in Moleps. It was hot, the kombie's were especially annoying and crowded, I couldn't imagine how on earth I was gonna drag everything for my walk home, and on this day nobody was helping out. So guess what smart me decides to do, yep—balance things on my non-African head. How hard can it be, afterall, I saw it in the movies, and now I see it all around me in real life. So I throw my heavy day pack on my back, one other bag drooped over my shoulder, and one bag on my head. I make it about 3 inches before the bag slips off my lopsided posture. This draws a crowd, with laughter, and god only knows what they're saying in Setswana about the lekgoa trying to do something innately African. But all laughter aside, these people love me, and all start working on my posture, head position, and distribution of goods. Ok, I've got my first lesson in head balancing, and I think I've got it down. It's so funny that if done correctly, you don't even really feel the weight of what's on your head---so here I go to loud cheers and encouragement, telling me I can lean one hand on the side of the bag. But no, the competitive nature in me wants to do it the pure way, besides, I really only have one hand left here, and that's needed to schoo the little rascal kids away from me. I make it further this time, so proud, and at the point where I get a little cocky, the bag gives way with no warning and down it goes. With laughs, oohs, aahs, and what not, I look down to broken eggs, squished bananas, sweat dripping from every inch of my body, and groceries all over the dirt path. This is definitely not one of my finest moments in cultural integration!
Someone looks at me and says “Tshepo, I think you need more practice---what are you going to do now?” And--”Tshepo, I don't think you should not have put the eggs on your head.” “Thanks buddy for the tip, I think I'm gonna go home, find a new bag, and come back for the goods that are still edible, but yeah, you think your so great because this and dancing are in your DNA and not mine.” “You watch—in two years, eggs and all, will be on my head with no problem, and somehow I'll learn to move my hips like you do!”
When I sat that night laughing and reflecting on my day, I thought that certainty about things brings about dullness and mediocrity---and even though I failed at my first attempt of head balancing, and lost my breakfast for the next several mornings, I'm so glad nothing in my life is certain around here!