Monday, May 11, 2015


I casually sat down and reached for something to read from the coffee table.  I was looking through a National Geographic magazine, photos vibrant, grand moments in time captured for me to see.  As I slowly leafed through the pages, I saw a section dedicated to Nigeria.  Photos of African women dressed in typical African fashion.  And as I observed the picture, I realized I wasn't looking at it the way I might have before.  I saw things beautiful, with a new understanding.

The women in the picture were casually standing around a car, perhaps a taxi.  They were matching, bright blue, tight-fitting outfits.  I understood that matching is a familial custom, especially for occasions like weddings.  They wore vibrant head scarves to match their dresses, a very normal and expected custom in M*sl*m culture.  And their shoes!  High stilettos, completely impractical for walking around in the desert.  And yet, I know the importance of shoes here.  They must be just as fancy as the outfit (in which case, my comfortable Birkenstocks are shameful).

I was happy to identify with the picture.  I have grown to accept and love many parts of Western Africa.  The colors are vibrant, just like the people.  My deeper yet still quite immature, understanding of African culture has fueled an appreciation and affection for the culture I've experienced here in Niger.

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