Herald-Journal
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, August 17, 1998

A different way of life in Africa

By OPAL "GRANDMA" HABISCH

My name is Tony and I live in Africa. When I was a 10 year old boy, I lived in a small African village with my mother, my father, my brother and my sister.

In Africa, we raised cattle. The cattle were used to clear the brush and trees out to make room to grow coffee bean plants. We sold the coffee beans and used the money to buy the things we needed to live.

The food is very good in Africa. As a child, we ate fish and monkey meat, along with different roots that we dug, and berries. Another thing we ate were grub worms. We found them under old logs. When we found them, we ate them right away, like candy. They were very sweet.

Missionaries came to our village and taught us about religion. Two children were picked out of each village and sent to the United States for schooling. The children were expected to return after they learned to read and write. They then taught the rest of the people in the village what they had learned.

I was picked to be one of those to go to the United States. I was both happy and sad, because I didn't want to leave my family. I found that manythings were very different in the United States from what I was used to in Africa.

For one thing, the clothes people wear were very different. As a 10-year old in Africa, I had just started to wear a new sling and that is all I wore as a child. In the United States, I was expected to wear pants and shirts and shoes.

The missionaries gave me an outfit to wear for the trip to America and when I got there, my host family took me shopping for several more new things. I felt weird wearing so many clothes. I thought I looked like a witch doctor.

Everyone in the United States slept in beds and they had more than one bedroom. This was very different from my life in Africa, where we slept on the floor, all in one room.

Of course, the food was very different. My host mother wanted me to try different kinds of American food, which I did. I liked the meat, but not the stuff called buns. My favorite thing in America was celery.

When I talked about how delicious monkey meat and grubs were, the girls at the table began to scream and they ran out of the room. Girls in the United States were always screaming, it seemed.

But the biggest surprise for me while living in the United States was snow. I woke up one morning to find everything outside my window had turned white. I ran outside and walked around in my bare feet. It was very cold. My host mother told me to come in and get dressed.

When I got my clothes, my hat, coat, boots, and mittens on, I felt like I could hardly walk. I got on the school bus and thought about my family in Africa. They would certainly think I looked like a witch doctor if they could see me now.

I wonder now how I ever adjusted to living in the States. When I think about how different everything there is, I have to laugh. My family would never believe it!

I went on to continue my education in London, and then I returned to Africa to start a school there. My two sisters also went to school and became nurses in Africa.

We are very grateful to the missionaries and the church for giving us the chance to learn to read and write. We will be happy to teach these skills to others in our African village.


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