I want to be your translator.
I want to tell you about you, translated from another language.
I started a blog because I wanted you to know what it’s like to be a body in South Africa. I wanted you to know what it’s like to be you in South Africa. I wanted you to be any body or your body or my body in South Africa, in that van with me, feeling that man’s head roll hard and round across my knees. I wanted you to wake up in my bed alone, hear the buses roll past outside. I wanted you to bite into a sweet bursting grape, taste the ambrosia in your mouth, on your tongue, feel vaguely worried as you read that you might drip juice down your chin and onto your shirt.
I came to South Africa because there was something I suspected, and I wanted to prove it to myself.
I suspected that there is no such thing as a real world. There is only such thing as many real worlds, as many as there are people. There is no actuality, no reality. The only thing Africa is, the only thing it ever ever was, was what people saw tasted felt heard breathed it to be. That is Africa. It does not exist in the back of your head, in the corner of your eye, just beyond your reach, just behind your vision. It exists here, in this blog, in what you’re reading. It exists in anything you’ve ever heard about Africa, anything you’ve ever tasted in Africa. My Africa is real and different from that of the man who robbed me, they are so so different, and different from Carmen’s and different from Funeka’s and different from Kcowane’s Africa, but they are all Africa, they are all real in our heads. You can be from Oceanview or you can be from Namibia or you can be from Norway.
You can be from Lubbock, Texas.
The Africa in our heads is real and it is the real Africa, and the public sphere of Africa is people communicating what is in their heads, that is the only way to know the real Africa, what people say, what they say in their bodies and in their words, that’s the only real way to communicate is through bodies and words, and since you cannot see my body or feel my skin or the soft compression of my fingers on yours, and you cannot taste it or hear me or smell me, we can’t communicate that way, it’s out, so the only way to communicate, you and me, America and Africa, is through words.
I couldn’t lie to you.
I couldn’t tell you untruths. I wanted to contribute something new, something you did not know. I could have added high fructose corn syrup and wrapped it in cellophane.
But you don’t need to go to South Africa for that.
I wanted honesty. I wanted rawness. So I talked about fruit and its sweetness but I also talked about his long lashes, the fear and the seahorse, but mostly you were in my white female young American body, I didn’t pretend to be anyone else, I didn’t try to be the whole public or the whole Africa or to tell you that this is what Africa is to everyone,
I just wanted you to know what Africa was to me.
And I think since you know what it is to me, you maybe know better what it is to you too.
I am small, I am one human being and I am in South Africa and these are my experiences, only mine but if you want you can apply them to you or anyone else, that’s what they’re there for, that’s what stories are for.
I want to be your translator.