I just finished my last day at work and it was time to say goodbye to my colleagues. It was late July, and the sun was up in the sky. They were sad or maybe pretended to be, but at this point, I did not care. It was a good time and I learned a lot in that company but it was time to move on and the next step was about to be exciting. I worked as a commercial assistant in a company called “Air Liquide Welding” who was selling industrial supplies. I was fired because the activity was low but actually it was perfect for me because it was my plan to quit because I had others plans for my bright future. My parents were sad that I was fired because they were worried about my future and were scared for me. Nowadays, the work market is quite difficult, and it is hard to find a job because of the crisis. I can understand that they were worried but I was not because I had this plan in my head that I wanted to go back in school but in USA, and I was going to do everything possible to do it. The plan was clear and simple : go back to school in USA. I did not know yet, but life had a lesson for me.
The 2013 year, I just had one goal : working and save my money to go back in America to study and play soccer. During this year, I thought about coming back to the U.S every single day. Every move was in relation with my future student life in America. My mother was kind of angry because she did not want me to go far away from her once again. She likes her babies close to her. I can understand that but I also needed my space, and life in France was not for me anymore. Too much negativity for me in this country right now and I did not need this in my life. I love my country but I felt like I had to leave it for so many reasons. The reasons were because people always complain and I felt like I was not moving forward in my life anymore, so I needed change in my life. Just after leaving my job, I received this call from the soccer coach of McKendree University, and he wanted me to come to play for August 2013; the fall season. I cannot explain my joy. I felt like all my hard work finally paid off. My little brother was so happy for me. My parents were happy but not that much because they knew I will have to leave the family house once again. The coach wanted me to come in August 2013, but I told him it was impossible due to all the papers I had to send and all my diplomas I had to translate so I asked him if I could come to the university in January 2014, and he said yes. I was so happy, and I could not wait to start doing all the papers and begin my workout plan to be fit in order to be ready for soccer season. All I was thinking about right now was this future adventure, and I was totally happy about that because I take soccer and school seriously.
However, during this summer, my father made an announcement that was going to change every aspect of this adventure and also my future life. He was taking us to Angola in Africa to visit my mother’s parents. My brother and I started to laugh because we had heard this a lot and, we did not believe it anymore. We felt like we were never going to see our roots and motherland. That was sad, but actually we were used to it right now. This time my father was being serious and already had the plane tickets. I was excited because this was my first time in Africa, and I could not wait to see what Africa had to offer. Anyway, we were almost ready and booked all the doctors’ appointments before we went. We were not be allowed to go to Africa if we do not take all the vaccinations before. They are strict about this. The hardest part of a family trip was to pack. It was pretty long, and we had to take with us the right clothes. It was easy because in Angola it is hot, so bring on the shorts and t-shirts. What we also have to know is that in Africa, we cannot come without our hands full of presents. Any kind of presents : clothes, accessories but the most important : medications. They need it, and they will be happy to have it. The packing was finished, I think we were ready to go. The worst part about this long trip were all the connecting flights and the wait.
We flew from Paris to Brussels and then to Luanda, the capital city of Angola. One word to describe this priceless moment : WOW! I felt like a new-born right then. New people, new language (Portuguese), new smells, it was intense and interesting. The best moment when we landed there was when my mother saw her sisters. It was an emotional moment, and I almost cried. They all looked alike, same face, same laugh, same height. I saw my aunts for the first time of my life. I cannot understand when they spoke in Portuguese but I understood when they spoke in Lingala. They were nice and already treated me like I was their new son. In Angola and in Africa in general, people respect family. It was the most precious gift they had instead of money or materials. We were heading to my grandpa’s home, the father of my mother. She had not seen him since 1985. I looked forward to experiencing. We were in different cars my family and I because we brought a lot of luggage. So I tried to talk with my cousin with a mix of French, Portuguese and a lot of English.
We arrived at my grandpa’s house. It was a huge fancy white house the government gave to him because he used to work for the government during the war in Angola. Most of African countries had their independence during the 60s but Angola had it in 1975. So the peace in the country is new. The first time since 1996, I saw my grandparents again. They came to see us in 1996 in Paris. It was the first I met them. My grand-father was an old man. He is also blind, but he can see through his others senses and he is the wisest man I have ever known. My grand-mother is like my mother. A small old lady who talks a lot and likes to take care of people. She also had back and feet problems; the same problems my mother is starting to have. We also met a few of my cousins, around forty cousins. We have a huge family. My mother has nine siblings and my father has twelve siblings and all his brothers and sisters have children. Anyway, we were tired from the trip, but they wanted us to eat before bed. There were a lot of fish and potatoes. We finally went to sleep to be ready to attack the next day. The second day was nice. All sunny, warm weather and warm family. We were finally all reunited together for a month of vacation. My grand-father is blind, but he wrote a book about roots of Kikongo ( Ancestral Language in Angola ). When I used to talk to him, I was fascinated by his calm and wise words. My whole vision of the world changed when we started talking together. He gave advice to me and my brother. He showed me alternative thinking to have a different outlook on life. I will never forget these long night conversations with my “Avo” (Grand-Father in Portuguese). He wanted us to come back in Angola to help the country. He said “Africa needs you, you are the tools of our success. The resources are here and we need your skills to exploit them.” This quote stayed in my head since then. He was right. We came there to visit my mom’s family, but my father also had a few members of his family there.
We went to my uncle’s house. It was a house in a poor neighborhood with no water and electricity. These conditions were rustic, but we had to adapt. But I had never seen a happier person than my uncle. He was so welcoming, always smiling and had this impressive positive outlook on life even though he was poor. That was another lesson here. The world was not based on money and materials. We miss a lot of moments in our lives because we are stuck into “routines” that make us selfish. Back from my uncle’s house, we went back to my “Avo’s” home. After that, we went to the beach; my parents finally received their official Angolan ID, so that means we can be Angolan by affiliation. I am happy about that because it will be easier for me to go back in the future. Life was beautiful. We spent one month in Angola, moving from house to house, cousin to cousin, eating different food and sharing. I was not thinking of my trip in USA anymore. I clearly had the time of my life, and I now had a different vision of life. My goals were the same, but I embrace them differently.
This month gave me now more energy to finish my project to go back to America. Now it was time to go back to Europe. Everybody came to say ” Au revoir ” to us. We cried because my “Avos” were old, and it was maybe the last time we would see them but it was a precious time. Now we went back to France, and my motivation to achieve my goal was renewed. I already knew where I was going, but now I also knew for whom I was doing it.
By Boris Kiesse-Makangu
Young French/Angolan man trying to reach his dreams. The best way to enjoy your life is to live it!