Writings from sub-Saharan Africa

A memory from the morning of the Safari:

The sun is slowly rising when I see a young boy, who cannot be older than seven, pushing a makeshift cart with two large wheels down the road. He wears khaki shorts and a dark blue striped shirt. I sit in a safari vehicle that is pulled over on the side of the road and watch his actions. We have been stopped by the check-point police and they have found something wrong with the vehicle. Maybe the registration? I am unsure. I sit in the vehicle and watch the young boy stop his cart and remove the four large white plastic barrels. He looks around him every few seconds and watches the police and our driver converse. The boy takes one barrel and walks down a small hill to a still body of water; the small pond must have recently formed after the torrential rains a few weeks ago. The boy submerges the white barrel into the still body of water and watches as bubbles form around the nozzle. He waits a minute and then lifts the heavy container out of the small pond. He struggles to carry the hefty container up the hill. He takes another barrel and walks down the hill to capture more water.

It has now been ten minutes since we were stopped by the police. I see the small boy drag the fourth and final barrel up the small hill and with great difficulty hoist it into the cart. Water splashes onto the boy and his khaki shorts turn a deep tamarind color. The police have stopped a local bus, but they find no issues and allow them to continue along the road to Mwanza. The young boy zigzags around the two police officers with his cart, passes a few young men who are well dressed and talking on cellphones at seven in the morning on a Sunday, and avoids bumping into a few village women who are walking to the water to begin their laundry. The boy crosses the road and then merges onto the short dirt path that leads to his home. With noticeable experience, he successfully avoids the small obstacles that lay in his path and parks the cart near his home. The safari vehicle begins to move again after the driver signed a document and most likely handed over some money, and as we drive away I see the young boy pouring the water into a pot to begin the long boiling process.

Along the road to Serengeti, I see people make small fires to cook food, walk with ease as they balance piles of firewood on their heads, and some families have clearly recruited every member of the family to contribute to working on the farm. This is what I see, and it is drastically different from Sunday mornings spent in the United States. In the States, when I wake up in the morning I go to the bathroom and flush the toilet with water that is pumped into the house. I wash my hands from a faucet that has clean water. I do not walk a distance to retrieve water from a dirty pond to begin cooking the morning meal. I do not need to wait another forty minutes for that water to be properly boiled for consumption. The differences between my homeland and Tanzania are profound and eye-opening. I see how much Americans waste and consume daily. I see how unappreciative they can be. I also see how lucky I am to have clean running water at seven in the morning on a Sunday.