African moves

Every time I am in Africa I feel more clumsy, stiff and chunky than at home. It is because of the movements. They don’t walk here, they dance. Of they stroll it is on a mysterious rythm, somewhere inside. Running looks more like flying, so easy, so elegant, so natural. Africans enjoy the flexibility of their bodies, whether young or old. If there is music, almost evrybody starts moving their hips, shoulders, knees. A woman picking up a mango on the market, bringing it to her nose, discovering the perfume with all her senses, is the most elegant of movements, a small and subtle ballet. The whole body is used to talk or to send messages. Anger, joy, self pitty, illness, whatever, is communicated by, literally, body language. Above all, bodies are used to seduce. Compared to the Western countries, Africans are masters in poetry through eye contact, promisses by smiles, refusals by turning into angry masks, maybe’s by movements of the lips and mouth. Looking past you in a subtle way is an art. Not looking but seeing everything a craft the African knows best of all. On Valentine’s Day, which is ambitiously celebrated, one ends up dancing or at least being in a place where nobody can stand still. Moving comes so naturally that a white man can only be embarassed should he try to join the fun. Rythm is in their veins, but not in yours. How funny we look if we try to follow their swings and shuffles. It is more than polite when I am encouraged to dance: I become the entertaining element for a few minutes. The great thing is that the joy radiates in such a strong way that you become happy yourself, despite realizing your legs are made out of wood, not of rubber. Why, I wonder, are we so different? I know there is something about a tendon in the heel that helps African athletes to run faster and longer distances than we are able to. But what else? Do we sleep in beds too soft for comfort? Is it our diet? Are we degenerated as a whole race? I see bold men, many who wear glasses, deaf they are like we, so there seems to be plenty of degeneration in Africa too. So what is it? I imagine it is the connection between brain and body. One has to be free, without shame, without inhibition or angst to be able to move. It is our white self consciousness that refrains us from letting go. We are frustrated and scared to make a bad impression. We hate to fail, so we don’t even try. What a shame! Next time I will be here on Valentine’s Day I will try to forget about style and rules and just do it. Although I am affraid they will be laughing even harder.

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