JOHN NJOVU recounts his experiences on a trip to the land of the Pharaos where he learnt valuable lessons about the dishonesty of some people. Read on…
We were late by five minutes.
I left Lusaka one day in March 2009 at 15:00 hours on an Ethiopian Airways Boeing 707 flight to Cairo.
It is amazing that man knows aerodynamics so well that a plane, regardless of size and weight, can fly.
Inside the plane I asked an Ethiopian man who sat in a row opposite mine to take my photos.
When I saw the Ethiopians, they reminded me of my having spent lots of flight hours in my teenage days with another Ethiopian.
She was a fellow student.
We oddly used to be the only black Africans chosen to travel on our university’s group excursions.
I believe the university was prepared to spend a lot of taxpayers’ money on us not just because we were very good and disciplined students, but we also had the potential to be future leaders.
The other Africans were from Morocco and Tunisia.
We had travelled to far off places like Yerevan in Armenia and Irkutsky in Siberia together.
She was a year ahead of me.
There were not many passengers on the plane.
I sat alone near the window in the row for three passengers.
The flight announcements by a hostess were in Aramaic and English.
She was dark, tall, slim and beautiful.
She reminded me of a famous model.
However, I had seen much prettier Ethiopian women than her.
My Alma Marta, Kharkov State University had Ethiopian students and over the years. I have met many Ethiopians.
I was more of wanting more flesh in the calf, thighs and bums and not the European slenderness in my women.
I also liked my women friends to be with African hair styles and dressing than the European imitations.
Maybe spending my teenage days in Europe had made me afro-centric.
She had bags under her eyes and I wondered whether it was due to a lack of sleep or other causes of stress.
There was another hostess who looked like she was using skin lightening creams.
She also had straightened hair in a European style.
She was typical of the young women across Africa that had been adversely influenced by the European and American advertising industry and mass media.
They had altered their self esteem to strive to be white.
The end result was a disastrous Michael Jackson’s character; a black African with an imitation white skin and hair.
There was no in-flight magazine for me to check what was showing on the movie channels.
Our light skinned hostess eyed me emotionlessly when I asked for a magazine. After waiting for 30 minutes, I asked a steward for the magazine.
He searched the back of one of the seats at the back rows and brought me one.
I had for a number of years listened to the Aramaic language.
I heard it when my excursions’ mate spoke to her visiting compatriots.
She loved talking about the situation in her home land.
She spoke mostly about the need to develop Africa.
I greatly respected her for her passion to study hard and articulate her vision. She wanted to return home as a National Economic Planner and fight for a better life for her people.
I sent the last SMSs when the announcements were being made before departure from Lusaka.
I had the usual long list of requests from friends and relatives to buy this or that for them.
However, none of them gave me money to go with their respective requests!
The Boeing’s ascent was shaky.
I thought to myself that the plane was probably old.
It was very noisy inside the plane.
Air was being pumped through the fuselage.
I got earphones from the passing hostess for me to listen to music.
The captain announced that we were flying 11,300 feet above ground over Northern Zambia into Tanzania.
On our way to Nairobi, we would fly near the Kilimanjaro.
He estimated that we would land in Addis Ababa in three and a half hours.
The mention of Addis Ababa triggered thoughts of another Ethiopian student.
He was also a year ahead of me at the university.
Just before he graduated, he had married a classmate from Cyprus.
I was surprised as I had not noticed them dating in the years I had spent with them.
It was too cold in the plane that I ended up covering my legs with a blanket and wearing my lumber jacket.
I felt lonely.
I was going alone for a workshop in Cairo.
The loneliness and long flight made my mind rewind to times when I had travelled on land, sea and air with companions.
It also made me recall friendships from my young days to the present.
I felt regret that most of my friends from my youth were no more.
We, unfortunately, cannot rewind time and enjoy once again the companionship of the departed.
I reckon this is one justification to live and enjoy every day as if it is the last.
I was shocked when I wanted to use the plane’s toilet to find that there was no toilet tissue and soap.
I found only a small packet of sanitation tissues.
When I came out, the lights were dim.
A young Asian man holding a baby on his chest was pacing the aisle.
He was patting and shaking the crying baby.
I thought that he was displaying the male paternal attitude of a father with his first born child.
I was afraid of thrombosis, so I kept shaking my toes and feet.
We had a 20 minutes delay in landing at Addis Ababa airport.
The baby wailed uncontrollably when the lights were turned off for the landing. The young father played with a squeaky toy and kept clicking his tongue to make the baby stop crying.
Continued next week.
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