Emilio in Congo (DRC)

Why I left the “West”

I wanted to leave the “West” so much that I left it even before properly finishing my studies. Don’t worry, I finished remotely!

It’s not that I didn’t like it. I enjoyed my studies, my friends and generally liked my life over there. But I wasn’t happy. Or rather, I wasn’t satisfied. I was bored. I disliked the streets, the people (not all!), the lack of urgency and the passivity.

In South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I felt at home. I felt the energy of a people trying to succeed, trying to enjoy life. I preferred it’s warmer weather and longer days. The people and the streets, they were all “richer” in life and more familiar to me.

In Nicaragua, I felt that same warmth, that same energy that I cannot explain. It was something I felt once I was there.

In Canada, I felt disconnected, I felt alone. The people I met seemed lost. They were from everywhere and nowhere. They didn’t seem to know where they were going but they knew they left their homes behind.
Anglo-saxons, French, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Congolese, Haitians and so many other nationalities in a land that wasn’t there’s.

Taken from native Americans many centuries ago, European settlers imposed and fought them back into reservations where they are now trapped in poverty and alcoholism despite attempts to integrate them.

And now, with new immigrants from other lands that are ready to work and build new lives in Montreal, Toronto or some other forgotten village or mining town deep in the country where only ice and polar bears welcome you.

No. This wasn’t what I wanted.

Sure, there were jobs.

Sure, you could meet someone, get married, have kids and live in an apartment for 30 or 40 years, but something would always be missing. Something would haunt me. Something I would regret if I didn’t go back to Africa.

My mother, father and younger brother were still over there. They were living a reality that I had not experienced as an adult. I did grow up there and had a very happy and comfortable childhood. But I wanted to live there as an adult just once.

I didn’t want to rot and die in a Canadian city, freezing and working my way up in dull companies with colleagues that were just as unhappy as I to have picked a supposedly life of ease far from their homes. I agree that this is an oversimplification and it is only my expectation of what my life in Canada would be.

Maybe I am wrong and you disagree and that is not what Canada is to you.

It is true that I am spoilt in Africa. I work with my parents. We have a business that is doing well, for now. I have not yet fallen on hard times. Life is good. Subconsciously, it is probably why I didn’t want to be in Canada. To try to make it on my own. Out of fear perhaps that I would fail.

All this is possibly true.

But I can’t say that I regret my choice to leave Canada. It is my nationality. It the country that accepted my parents who couldn’t build their lives in their homes anymore. I am grateful! I think there are many great things about Canada and being a Canadian. And in 6 years I did not give it a chance to affect me. But did I enjoy living there? No.

I wanted to rather be in the hot African sun, in the DRC or South Africa.

Canada will always be there I suppose.

I guess the Congo lifestyle is a drug that I can’t stop. The madness, the chaos, the freedom, the people, the country in general, they are all addictive substances and I can’t seem to forget when I am sitting in an airport in Canada or a government office in Montreal or taking a bus on Sherbrooke St.

These are things that I miss when I am in Canada: the bravery of the Congolese to keep on fighting despite their hardships, the wars, the corrupt politicians and inexistent government or laws.

The Congolese always wonder why I didn’t stay in Canada. There are millions of them who would love to be in my shoes. But somehow, here I am at 33, in the DRC, happy.

This fighting mindset was what I missed when I saw “Canadians” (Am I not a Canadian?) or Europeans or Americans, or the western world, in general, as they lived in their so-called safe perfect worlds and complain about their first world problems.

They worry about their countries going to dogs, about the Chinese taking over, Muslims emigrating into their neighborhoods.

But what do they know about the lives of the poorest in South Africa or in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Of the millions of people who just can’t get a leg up in life? I just want westerners to see for once in their lives how the rest of the world lives.

Living in Canada or the west makes you forget what is out there, makes you comfortable in your little bubble. I didn’t want to forget, I didn’t want to leave behind the world I grew up in.

I am now in Congo and maybe someday I will also have enough of this world, filled with madness, corruption, opportunistic people, theft, lack of rule of law, wars and insecurity.

I can still be in the Congo for now while maintaining a sane existence. Eventually, I do believe I will not be able to juggle both worlds and will have to fall back into a working society.

Indeed, in the DRC at least, it is not a working society. There are a million and one issues that I just can’t help resolve. I feel like I belong in Congo but I know a part of me will never feel at home.

Anxiety, fear, insecurity, theft. These are daily emotions and issues that we must deal with.

Someday, it will not be manageable and the only solution will be for me to leave and abandon a country that gave my father and grandfather everything they ever built.

But for now, it is still the only place that I can be happy in.

Disclaimer : I do not believe you will agree with me. This is my story. I admire those who battled the loneliness, the separation, the lack of choice for being in Canada or the West for a better future for themselves and their children. They are truly heroes who sacrificed a lot and suffered greatly to improve their lives and those of their children. I am only sharing my reasons for not wanting to be in Canada. Someday, I am sure, life will make me mark my words.

2 replies to “Why I left the “West”

  1. Hey Emilio,

    Great job on this and the previous blog post! I found both really interesting and as someone who has had a totally different upbringing and experiences to you, your opinions are fascinating!!

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers,
    Jack

    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star