“Ngikhona!” I cried out again.
In Zulu, the native tongue of large swaths of Southern Africa, it’s the customary response to the greeting phrase Sawubona.
It means I am here.
Was this what I had come to Africa for? Was this how my affair with Africa would end? On the edge of a vast, deep precipice, where the world dissipated into a twirling wall of mist and roaring water?
My affair with Africa began before I knew what an affair meant. I wanted to live among her rolling hills, breathe her dry air and sing with her lions. And so one day, I packed my life and left for Africa.
What followed was a time of great beasts and mosquitos, of grimy crowds and gracious strangers, of stirring encounters and searing pains. But above all, it was coming to the realization that Africa cared little for humans. That it took a certain type of people to live under her savage sun. I wasn’t that type.
And so I closed my eyes and let my tears seep into the saturated air of Victoria Falls.
“Ngikhona!” I howled, trying to match the roar of the falls. I had to let Africa know that I had come. That I had done what I could, and that now it was time for me to go.
A light breeze pried the curtain of clouds open. A ray of sunlight seeped through. And everyone gasped as the slightest impression of a rainbow took shape across the gorge.
“Sawubona,” -I see you- I heard her whisper in colours. Africa had seen me, after all.