Africa - People and Places! - Michael Burke

Africa - People and Places!

July 9, 2016

This is the third in a trilogy of observations and images from our recent trip to southern Africa. The previous two were about the animals and the birds. And much like those two, the place that is Africa is as exotic and different as any place can be.

At times during the game drives we had to remind ourselves to stop looking intently for animals and simply absorb the scenery. There were moments when it was majestic beyond words and in ways that we didn’t expect. Like the towering cloud-bound mountains at the Cape of Good Hope.

Or palm trees silhouetted by a smoke-filtered sunset in Zambia.

Or a star-filled night sky in Zimbabwe, which has a 80% unemployment rate and a worthless currency as the result of 37 years of despotic rule. Majesty has no political bent.

Even a dusty meadow seems magical when back-lit by the morning sun.

But one can use a word like “majestic” to describe the southwestern part of the U.S., so what is the “X” factor that made the trip so special? For us, it was the sincere and unreserved warmth of the people we encountered. From our game guides and camp helpers to the young woman in a shop in Victoria Falls, we found the people to be welcoming and the children, in particular, to be like children everywhere.

A friend recently asked me if I felt any resentment as a tourist amidst all of the poverty. I did not, and that is not to say that it does not exist. Nor did we feel unsafe or threatened anywhere we went. In reality, tourism puts a lot of them to work so it would be a mistake to decide not to go for fear of offending the folks who live there. We help them and their economy by visiting.

So I say to you - go. It is an extraordinary place, this Africa.

For more images of the people and places of southern Africa, click here.

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