Before this country went to war against Iraq, and while I was still a journalist, I wrote four editorials against such an invasion. As we all know, my efforts were for naught. In 2003, America attacked. It was an action that was not seen kindly by much of the rest of the world.
Four years later, on August 27, 2007, I found myself bouncing across a savannah in Tanzania in a Land Rover, looking for lions and giraffes and elephants and ostriches, with my friend, Kim. Our driver and safari guide was Bilal, a native African who spoke English. We three had been together for five days, and so had come to know a little bit about each other.
He worried about us two ladies, and asked who was going to take care of us when we were old. I guess he didn’t notice that I already was, although he did call me “Mama” as a sign of respect. Kim, who is quite a bit younger than me, didn’t get the same honorific.
Bilal, whom we finally figured out was divorced, said it was the duty of his oldest son to take of him when he was old. But we noted that it was his daughter he called on his radio at every opportunity, always asking if his grandson was being a good boy.
This particular day, for the first time, the subject of politics was raised. So why,” he asked, “does America fight in other countries?”
My outspoken friend was first to point out that not every American had been in favor of attacking Iraq. I added that as a journalist I had even publicly written newspaper columns against the invasion.
The three words that Bilal spoke next shocked me. “Who hid you?” He asked.
This was the day I realized how blessed I was to be an American woman.
Pat Bean was a newspaper journalist for 37 years. Today she lives and travels full time in a small RV with her dog, Maggie. Her passions are writing, travel, birds, nature, hiking and books. Accompany her on her sojourns at Pat Bean’s Blog: Traveling with Maggie.