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I took off from Nairobi ensconced in the apparent comfort of a very expensive bus company. After paying 1,700 shillings the previous day, I had been anticipating an ultra-comfortable bus. After all, this amount was almost fifty percent more than the usual bus fare from Nairobi to Mombasa. But there I was, seated in a bus whose leg room was ample but hip room not so ample. The rather narrow chairs were a far cry from the often wide chairs of other cheaper buses that I had previously travelled with.

Tonight the ocean off the coast of Comoros Island’s Ngazidja Island is in a good mood. The usual ill-tempered wind is asleep, leaving behind a gentle breeze that can only stir calm waves.

In 1968, Miriam Makeba arrived in Conakry Guinea and began her life in exile on Africa’s West Coast. Language barriers notwithstanding, she received a heroine’s welcome and found a home away from home. As she was driven from the airport, she witnessed lush fields dotted with waving palm trees prompting her to say that she had never seen such beauty in a long time.

With a crucifix dangling around her neck and a big smile on her chocolate face, the middle-aged lady from Abrha Weatsbha community in northern Ethiopia clasped a big green mango that she had just plucked from a mango tree in her farm. Her brown eyes gazed across her farm as she shook her head in disbelief.

What do you feel when you touch me? When your fingers run through my softness. Do you feel dirty just because you have touched soil? When I cling to your hands, its not because I want to remind you what you are missing.

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