• Simon Howard


Updated: Mar 14, 2020

As I jump down from the truck I’m greeted by a boy of fantastic ugliness who collapses with laughter at the sight of me He actually cries with laughter and settles on his haunches to support himself

When I attempt to hit him, he runs away and laughs still more, weeping uncontrollably at my anger The more furious I become, the more he laughs, creating fresher waves of laughter, producing what seems to me, a traveller, like all the laughs of Africa

I think the reason I’m so funny is that I’m a stranger, hot and troubled, sweat pouring down my dusty face, exhausted from my journey through the heart of Africa, and ridiculously cross even though I hadn’t realised till I got to this Rwandan village on a hill just how tired I really was

The ugly, laughing boy knew it, though. An African from a land of massacres, he knew about the mask that travellers wear

Looking at the tears pouring down his laughing cheeks I become aware that I’m rooted to the dusty spot, helpless incapable of influence, when suddenly, wooed by Africa and this hideous laughing boy, I recall what Shakespeare said, and vow to put away the mask forever and let my whiteness fit her black


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