“Africa is a continent, not a country!”

“Africa is a continent, not a country!” Have you noticed that folks all too often flatten out the mind-spinning variety of African topography, countries, cultures, languages, beliefs, architecture, conflicts, joys and sorrows…by referring to the single word “Africa”? It’s easy to do. I’ve done it myself. But, remember the nuance. Remember the vastness.

“Water Ceremonies,” Part II, Africa—a poem by Janet Grace Riehl (Tales from Maun, Botswana; Okavango Delta in Northern Botswana; Kalahari Desert in Western Botswna)

II. Africa Maun, Botswana Afternoons, I teach schoolchildren to swim in the flooded waters of the Tamalakane. Two fingers support wiry bodies that sink every chance they get. “Arch your back! Spread out your limbs! Float! Kick! Paddle!” Until one student travels under her own speed. We collapse on the bank, gasping with sputtered water…