5 Big Lessons Learned by Living in West and East Africa

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Jambo! mambo! Waka waka! hakuna matata!

You might have heard one of the above. I was quite naive to have had a typical image of Africa before my arrival, and after having lived in the West and East Africa for 2+ years, I am confident to say this:

Africa is big and diverse!

Just like any learning, the more I knew about a tiny part of Africa, the more I realized that Africa is too big, diverse and complex to generalize, and I believe everyone has their own “My Africa”. So acknowledging that I can by no means speak for whole Africa, let me share some learnings from my Africa.

Why Africa

Although I already wrote here (life turning point) about why and how I landed Africa, the continent I dreamed about, the main reason I wanted to come to Africa was to know the origin of hip hop, music, modern art and human being.

Why West Africa

Amongst so many countries in this continent, I chose the region of West Africa without any hesitation, because of French language I was self-studying since I was in Chile (following this, I moved to Mongolia and continued my study).

Chapter 1: Mauritania 

Mauritania was the first country in Africa I lived. Frankly speaking, it was a mixture of the choice and coincidence, but in a nutshell, it was for my job. Among french speaking countries, the only choice I had was Mauritania, totally mysterious country I had never heard of.

To be honest, the experience in Mauritania was tough in many ways, and I learned many things including language, islamic culture, life in refugee camp, survival and wellbeing skills ,etc. (Detail can be seen in the previous post: 20 things I learned from Mauritania).

Chapter 2: Kenya

Although moving from Mauritania to Kenya (far west to east in Africa) was due again to my job opportunity, it was indeed a necessary move. And thanks to the tough situation I had in Mauritania (climate, life condition, physical and mental wellbeing), we could appreciate so many things in Kenya including cool weather, quite environment, green and animals, availability of ingredients and other basic products, as well as learning opportunity (I started self-studying Portuguese and graphic design). Some people who came from Paris and New York didn’t have that impression, and the detail of the inspiration I received upon onboarding is here: 7 learning from another life turning point in Africa.

Take-away and 5 common learnings from my Africa

My first dream was met, as I lived in East Africa and West Africa and had a chance to work with countries in central and southern Africa. The more I learn about Africa, however, the more I realized the diversity of this continent with 55 countries and 2,000+ languages. Even one country has totally different languages and cultures mingling.

Although I left Africa this time, there are 5 learnings I would like to bring to the next chapter (and hope I will have another African chapter in the future).

  1. Gratitude 
    This came to mind right away, as it is the biggest take-away. Our life is given and supported by so many people and things, and the fact that we have water to drink, food to eat, air to breathe is just great, and it is important to thank simple things and people around us.
  2. Daily routine for your lifelong learning
    Your life consists of what you do/don’t do, and opportunity to learn is everywhere, as long as you keep daily routine and learning mindset.
  3. Wellbeing and rest
    Honestly I was under-estimating the value of the wellbeing and rest, which I learned after losing them. To keep running sustainably, it is impeccable to take care of both.
  4. Audience-friendly approach
    The diversity of Africa taught me that every one, village, culture and country is so different and it is important to adapt an audience-friendly approach instead of one-size-fits-all way, which is applicable to most of the things.
  5. Life can be tough but good
    Africa (especially sub-saharan) is without doubt economically poorest continent, but people are resilient and enjoy dancing, singing and laughing (maybe more than Japanese). So I learned that life can be good despite the difficulty depending on how you live.

In short, the below drawing represents My Africa (summary of my experience).
As you might notice notice, use of many colors is also an inspiration from my Africa 🙂

The learning of this time 

After having lived in Africa (West and East), the continent I dreamed about, I learned to keep gratitude, daily routine, wellbeing, audience-friendly approach and enjoy life despite the difficulty.  

Thank you for reading this article. If you like it, please don’t forget to subscribe. If you have any comments/questions, please feel free to leave. Have great learning!

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