Bijagos, West Africa

bijagos“In a village on the island of Soga, the little children pinched my white skin to see if it was real, as they emerged from mud-walled, thatched-roofed huts; on the main island of Bubaque, on my evening run past the tall palms and the mango trees, down the long airstrip used by Latin American drug-runners, the children called out softly, “Branco, branco!” — “white man, white man” in Portuguese — not out of hostility, but because I was a curiosity.”

I found it very interesting to read this article in the New York Times, stating the fact that there are many Africans living today that have never been exposed to White people/Anglo-Saxons/Caucasians. Can you imagine walking on to a picturesque beautiful island in West Africa, with dark brown & black skinned people speaking Portuguese who have never seen a White person before in the 21st century?

I recall my uncle, a native of Ghana, West Africa, who was studying engineering in Bulgaria telling me how little children in Bulgaria would come up to him & wipe his face to see if his skin was really Black or just dirty because they had never been exposed to Black people before & during the winter months he had to cover every part of his body except his face because he had never been exposed to such cold. I also recall the same uncle while I was growing up in Ghana, telling me how my European teacher looked so weird because she had pale skin & blue eyes-so I guess it all depends on perception & exposure. My uncle moved to New York after attaining his degree in Bulgaria. We had Russian neighbors in a predominately Black neighborhood , who instantly bonded with him because he spoke their language since he had studied in Bulgaria & had to learn the slavic languages to survive. Language can bring about a bond from distance that goes beyond color or social class, whether you have ever been exposed to a certain area of the world & its people or not-the bond can come from being able to communicate in the same language.

I had a conversation with a Black American who said just the opposite about Blacks in America-that they have all had to be exposed to White America all their lives, whether in their towns, work or school yet they still did not feel a sense of real bonded connection, while at the same time there are still White Americans that have never been exposed to Blacks in America whether in their towns, workplaces or schools. We are all living in a world that is becoming more & more globally fused in terms of everyone being exposed to one another whether in the physical sense or virtual sense with the growth of the internet & other technological advances fusing our interactions globally. I look forward to the day when there are truly no borders virtual nor physical. Explore your world because the world is Ours!

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