The profound Jamalesh of Jinka
At a stop for drinks at the little town of Jinka, I got to talking with this young man. He had called from across the lane, "Take my photo." Having been well schooled in the last week to ignore such calls (as it was usually followed by "2 Birr" or "5 Birr" and an outstretched hand), I did just that. A couple of minutes later, this man walked over and asked "Why don't you want to take my photo? I'm an indigenous person." (!!) To which I replied, "If I take your photo, will you ask for birr?" - and he quite indignantly replied, "No, I won't ask you for money! In fact, I will pay YOU! Maybe I won't pay you money but you will benefit if you take my photo."
We got to talking - his name was Jamalesh, and he said his parents gave him that name as it means 'he who will do great things', and as the eldest son his parents wanted him to do great things, which he said he unfortunately hasn't done yet. He also said that at 15 or 16 he had an opportunity to go to Europe to work but he turned it down because "I love my country and want to die here."
He then said, "You know that you're not visiting Africa?" I must've looked puzzled. He went on to say, "You're not visiting Africa. You're coming home. This is where it all started - this is your home too." The huge-ness of this statement in the smallest of African towns from a young man whom I'm sure would do great things, touched me profoundly.
As he walked away, saying "I think maybe you've gained something from today", I realised I hadn't taken his photo. He didn't approve of the first shot ("I look drunk.") and struck a more 'intellectual' pose (this photo) - which he thoroughly approved of.