Part 6 of 6 - Reflections On Our Trip
So - what did we learn from this major
trip covering half the
length of Africa?
First - the old saying "you can never
go back home" was never
more true than for people of European extraction who grew up in
Zambia in the 1960s. Although the buildings are still there, the
pretty towns of the Zambian Copperbelt are not what they used to
be. Thirty years of increasing population combined with
decreasing industrial revenue takes its toll on maintenance.
The cultural institutions, too, have
disappeared: no more RADOS
doing dramas, musicals and pantomimes; no more Mrs. Elspeth
Fraser-Munn adjudicating eisteddfods where one's peers played the
piano or recited Milton and Shakespeare; no more camera club,
library, movie theatre, ice-cream parlours; no dealers in new, or
even used cars.
Those were all part of an imported
European culture and could
have been expected to disappear. What hurts more is the
disappearance of the forest, chopped down for firewood or to make
the charcoal sold along every major road. Without the trees to
moderate the water cycle, Zambia's climate is changing - there
are more floods and droughts, and some alive today may see the
beginning of desert conditions in parts of Zambia.
Second - this was a healing journey for
Alan. Most people find
coming of age stressful, but as the years go by they come to
terms with their past because they continue to interact with the
same people and institutions. When Alan was forced to leave
South Africa at age 22, that process was interrupted. Returning
to the scene and meeting people who knew him then gave him the
opportunity to catch up. He was also pleasantly surprised to
learn that his peers in the 1960s had a very good opinion of him
at the time.
Third - we are grateful to God that the
entire trip went with so
few hitches. Apart from the enforced rest in Johannesburg
recovering from a Zambian virus, the entire 6 weeks went almost
exactly as we had planned it. If you re-read the first chapter
you will see that we can't take credit for that, as an amazing
set of connections and "coincidences" came together to allow us
to make the plan. And as our friend Tai says, "to someone who
believes in God, coincidence is not a kosher word!"
So we give thanks to God for this
opportunity to retrace and
learn from Alan's past, to reconnect with old friends, and to see
both the beauty and the challenge of Africa as it is today.
Thank you for coming with us on this virtual trip!
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