I need not have worried. Turning the corner I was confronted by a newly constructed shop built from wattle and mud but this time it had a gleaming tin roof. Sitting becalmed like a sail boat on a mirrored lake with book-in-hand was my dear friend Rachel.
As if by magic or intuition she lifted her eyes and smiled broadly in my direction – somehow it was as if she knew I had arrived and was just waiting for me to turn that corner.
‘Rachel,’ I exclaimed loudly, ‘It looks like you are doing very well indeed?’
We embraced each other discretely and she went on to explain why she had made the decision to move. It seems that Rachel had heard whispers that a new market would be located in this place and she immediately bought a plot of land and erected a store four times the size of her original one on the main street.
‘You took a gamble on that one, did you not?’ I stated, while speaking in a low tone that was immediately met with a radiant smile.
I knew that smile! After all she was the grand-daughter of the chief and the risk she had taken was somewhat minimized. She had seized the opportunity with both hands, expanding her business and perhaps more importantly, had taken yet another leap forward in her quest for self-determination.
In the short time that I had known Rachel she had shown me what people can do if they are only given the opportunity and have the will to succeed. To me she was the true soul of Africa – striving to get on terms with this mortal coil and reaping the rewards that were not so much material as they were spiritual.
Although I did not know it – this would be the last time that I would see my friend Rachel. Disastrous events some five thousand kilometers away would soon conspire to re-invent my destiny. It was time for me to take my leave once again and travel far from those I had got know and love – for they are my people.
Rachel, you are the true spirit of your gender, your tribe, your nation and its divine destiny.
Goodbye, my dear friend and perhaps someday we will meet again when the calm winds blow from the Zambezi and those once-silenced drums echo on a moonlight night across the plains that are forever Africa.