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Tales From The Treehouse

A Word on the Sound of Children Playing

Dear Daniel,

I just came in from coffee on our half finished deck overlooking the river. Lots of activity today, people wandering to the river from the nearby village to catch a canoe across and then wander off to the boma, probably. Boma is Lunda for market, though the market is surrounded by a tatty little town that is just a few steps up from the mud hut and we all just call it the boma because it sure isn’t really a town. Yet. Like anywhere, humanity spreads and it is hard on the surrounding nature and wildlife.

Makes me wonder what the world will look like just a few decades from now. Makes me think I am glad I am not born into the world just lately but likely about half way through my allotted time and won’t be around to see it fifty years on. I’m not sure it’s a world I’d enjoy.

Makes me both happy and sad when I see kids playing, swathed in their innocence and ignorance which surely is bliss. I am not usually a pessimist but when you look at the population explosion numbers around the world but especially here in Africa….there are no wild animals around here, they have all been eaten. The only ones we see are the ones protected here and elsewhere in wildlife reserves. I look across the river to the marshy meadow and wooded hills and picture giraffes, zebra and elephants, hear the grunting and splashing of hippos, but it’s all in my mind, a past that will not return.

There aren’t even any monkeys, which in one way is a relief as they make pesky neighbors, but on the other hand, they are like the canary in the coal mine, and it makes me shudder to see the empty branches where they used to swing.

On a happier note, kids in Africa are such happy kids. Even the non African ones. My host’s three grandkids are on the loose here at present, and their shouts, squeals and laughter, in English and French, echo through the woods and across the hills. It’s lovely to be reminded of such simple joys and happiness in the most banal games as their imagination replaces electronic devices.

As for the native kids, I hear them playing across the river in the village and giggling uproariously as they splash in the water – even the crocodiles give this part of the river a wide berth. They still have the freedom the kids of the first world have lost, they run along as they choose, in groups or alone, and they smile and laugh so much more than the kids I see overseas. They have mainly sticks, stones, mud and puddles, chores, hunger and disease, but they still have their games and their spirits which seem indomitable as they skip down the road in the middle of nowhere going someplace I can know nothing about.

Just goes to show stuff don’t make you happy. Freedom does. The importance of freedom is something I realize now drew me to the US all those years ago, and it’s something I had to figure out again in the past few years, but that’s another story for another day.

Meantime, here is something else I just figured out. Children playing sounds the same in any language. Do with that thought what you will.

Best regards,


Torchlight Travel Blog
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