Wiki: Mal d’Africa refers to the feeling of nostalgia of those who have visited Africa and want to go back (as saudade is the nostalgia of Brazil)
Very few places in the world have captured the imagination of explorers, artists, writers and travellers as Africa: the dark continent. The land of still little known creatures, plants and home incredible plains, coasts and landscapes that can only exist in this vast and immense land.
After a week in Kenya and only 3 days at the Masai Mara, I’m certain I’ve contracted Mal d’Africa. In spite of reading about the African savannah and watching those must see films like Out of Africa, my African experience was an overwhelming one. Everything they say about it is true. There is something in the air, in the light, in the colour of the ocean and in the softly spoken Kenyan people with huge smiles, that makes you leave a piece of your heart in each one of the amazing places that Africa has to offer.
I left my heart in Jomo Kenyatta beach with its impressive coral reef and in Mombasa’s incredibly crowded ferry crossing. Bits also remain at the Masai Mara by the Mara river with its out-of-this-word wildebeest migration. A place like I’ve never seen before. The Mara gave us spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as well as the joy of witnessing the power of nature at its best. You want to try a place giving you endless happiness? Try the Mara. It’s unique charm and beauty makes you leave Africa with a heavy, heavy heart. It’s hard to explain but I guess it is the unmistakable symptom of the Mal d’Africa. It happens, it’s true.
I also left my heart in Shimoni and its warm turquoise waters leading to Wasini island where my heart stopped at the sight of those huge baobab trees. The ones you never think you’ll see, because at the end of the day they belonged only The Little Prince right? I will now remember those Kenyan days with huge nostalgia, but with the certainty that Kenya has planted a seed, leaving me with an incredibly soft spot for everything African that no film, short story or novel could ever match.
In the words of Karen Blixten: “If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me?”
Ps. While waking around the village in Wasini island, I found this sticker which caught my eye and made me smile. Hope it makes the same for those of you who can relate to this experience.