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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
Why I love Africa
Boy hawker in Nigeria
BBC listeners and readers share their personal experiences of the African continent.

Here are the latest contributions celebrating Africa's busybodies, road mechanics and its hospitality.

Samuel Oyewusi, Nigeria

I love Africa in no small part for its abundant human and material resources - one of which is roadside mechanics.

Mention any car and they can fix any fault

They are there for you from sunrise to sunset.

They work tirelessly until midnight if the occasion warrants doing so.

They have never seen inside a university, yet they are engineers - doctors for all cars.

British cars, German cars, Japanese cars - mention any of them and they can fix any fault.

They are indeed the jacks of all trades.

You do not need a job card - just walk into a make-shift garage and work begins almost immediately.

Who says Africa is not endowed with abundant human resources?

Moses Rubn Omilia, Uganda

I love Africa for its hospitality, where you are expected to be very hospitable even at funerals.

Elders' love for the little ones is a lovely thing

That is why most rural people expect to eat and drink when they go to funerals.

I also love Africa for its usual respect and care for elders and the elders' own love for the little ones.

It is a lovely thing that unfortunately seems to be waning.

I dislike Africa, though, for its slowness.

Abysmal time-keeping

We tend to be so slow in doing things and the world is leaving Africa behind.

Our time-keeping is abysmal and we often do not mind bungling appointments.

If you do try to keep time and appointments, you are called a Mzungu [white man].

That is how carefree we are.

Despite its weaknesses and failures, I still love Africa, like someone would a good friend.

Dele Olufemi, Nigeria

I love Africa because we are all busybodies.

Many sons are saved from jail thanks to a busybody

We know how to mind every other person's business but our own.

In Africa you find a mother who knows every single girl in her neighbourhood who has had an abortion; who knows of boys who are stealing or involved in 419 scams and those who pretend to have jobs but do not.

But she will never know that her own daughter has had abortions; that her boy is a 419 expert.

And woe betide you if you let her know that her daughter who leaves home every day really has no job and that she roams from one office to another visiting men or that her boy is not a hardworking businessman.

We just know everything about other people and refuse to see what happens under our very noses.

Good thing

We just know what is happening in our neighbour's house and why it's happening. We don't actually need to find out the truth. We just know.

It is good though.

Many daughters have been saved from destruction - unwanted pregnancies, ritual killings and so forth - and many sons from jail because somebody took it upon themselves to be a busybody.

I just love Africa. And I don't think I will ever want to live anywhere else despite all the negatives - for we know how to take care of our own.

Kwesi Aseredum Hagan, Ghana

I love observing the scene at the lorry park.

Truck in Nigeria
Kwesi enjoys the crush and noise of the lorry park

To be woken in the morning by the beating of the shoe-shine boy on his small box filled with tools for mending and shining shoes and his shouts of: "Shoe, Shoe," - as he hopes to catch the ears of his customers.

Around midday the real action starts with the arrival of hawkers - both children and adults selling all sorts of items - each one trying to supersede the other for would-be buyers.

Lorry drivers are also heard hooting their horns either to attract passengers or warning pedestrians and fellow drivers that they are around.

'Don't mind the body'

All sorts of domestic animals and birds, tied up to be sold, can be heard making their own noise, while some children cry and call to their mothers who are busy buying or selling their wares.

Kwesi Aseredum Hagan
All these things make for pleasant confusion
Kwesi Aseredum Hagan

Fascinating too are all the types of cars and trucks from the oldest "fifth-hand" models to the brand new, with inscriptions ranging from "One In Town" for the new ones to "Don't Mind The Body" for the rickety ones.

Head porters are seen busily negotiating prices with their customers on what to carry, shouting: "Agoo [give way]," to obstructers as they move along with their goods.

The heat from the crush of bodies and the stench from the choked gutters, gives off an odour that one can only smell here in Africa.

All these things make for what I call pleasant confusion... and I feel happy spending time observing it.

What do you think?

Do you find Africa annoying, frustrating and slow or is it fun, fast and exhilarating? Share your joys and sorrows of the continent in the new 2005 BBC competition - Why I love Africa.

If you have photos to accompany your contribution send them to newsonline.africa@bbc.co.uk, otherwise use the form at the bottom of the page. Entries should be no more than 300 words.

The best will be published on the news website and broadcast on the BBC World Service's Network Africa programme. Some will receive small prizes.

Use the form below to send your entry.

Name
Your E-mail address
Postal address, Town & Country
Comments

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.





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