Portable Village is a phrase that came to me in 2002 when I gave a talk at the Writers Center in San Rafael, California, on “Celebrating an African Experience.” Friends from New Mexico, Lake County, and all around came to support me in this event which combined readings, a slide-talk,good food, and a ceremony in which the audience participated in chanting and a group dance.
The key to my return trip to Africa is just such a Portable Village: those hands filled with bright hearts that reach out to encircle us as we as we dance outward into ever-widening circles and then dance inward into ever-more-refining circles. In plain terms, supportive friends that surround us.
The folks who live in my PORTABLE VILLAGE on this trip are:
1) Annette Crymes, my parallel traveling companion…a fine writer, performer, all-around creative-companionable-hospitable-generous spirit.
Annette is a daughter of Oshun/Aphrodite/Venus…the goddess of love and beauty and the arts. I, too, am a daughter of Oshun, and dedicated “Celebrating an African Experience,” my art show, to Her.
Annette also reminds me of my mother in her dedication to her large garden and getting up early to bake from scratch for her guests at a garden tea-party…and wearing an apron throughout.
2) Damaria Senne, my blogging buddy with lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is rooted in the village of Phokeng, will be the first person Annette and I will visit in our Portable Village.
We originally met through the The Lieurance-King Article Challenge last fall. We both won our Golden PJs. The challenge brief was to write 15 marketing articles during the month of November and submit them to article directories like Ezine Articles.
Our relationship progressed to exchanging guestposts on each other’s blogs and emailing. Meeting Damaria, and now going to visit her and her family on her home turf is the best thing that happened to me as a result of my on-line life.
Click here to read Part I (of two) of my guestpost on Damaria’s STORYPOT blog…on the culture of African story.
3) Alan Brody…(married to Ghanaian Mary Brody)…and I met in Ghana in the 1970s when we were both in Peace Corps together. Alan and Mary went on to live an expatriate life of service in the UN…serving in China, Afganistan, and Swaziland, for instance. They retreated to Iowa, City, Iowa a couple of years ago.
Last winter, watching one of these dreadful movies about Africa, I got to wondering what had happened to them, and did manage to locate them through some internet and telephone directory assistance information. We refreshed and progressed our friendship via phone and email. I was to visit them in June, boarding with them and enjoying Mary’s gourmet Ghanaian cooking during an Iowa writing workshop, when the floods intervened.
Thus it was that I discovered Alan would be in Gaborone, Botswana, on a short UN consultancy in August…and, in keeping with my father’s preference for not just visiting a place, but a person, felt like that made it safe to go. At least one person I knew, would be there, alive, to greet me.
4) I’ve also written to several folks in Gabane, Botswana, in hopes of meeting old friends and co-workers there when we established Tshwaragano Craft and Sewing Centre there. Reports seem to indicate that it may have been taken over by the Botswana Brigade system, which was always my dream to carry it forward.
5) Through Damaria, we’ve met Jacob, and through Jacob, we’ve met some folks in Maun, Botswana who will help us on that part of our trip.
6) Through the power of the internet we’ve been able to act as our own travel agents…working out of my study and Annette’s…she’s become the de facto travel agent this week, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
To have a buddy makes it all easier. I could work on the ticket while she found out about the immunizations and so forth. Yesterday, Annette led me to the travel store, in true African style, showing me a piece of versatile luggage, a twin to her own.
We’ll be traveling in style. This style will be a far cry from the style of 1975 when I traveled on my own from Ghana to Botswana, overland with an air hop.
On that trip, I carried only the green canvas rucksack Peace Corps issued me in 1972 (and that I adapted with hand-sewn straps and pockets). I hitch-hiked rides and depended on the kindness of strangers, mostly with success.