What do the lonely do at Thanksgiving?
I don’t often travel back to Alabama to celebrate Thanksgivings. I remember going back to Alabama in 2003, 2004 and 2016 (work event that took place around Thanksgiving). However, I have always found myself surrounded by family and friends despite not going back to Alabama. After arriving on the African continent, I spent Thanksgiving 2013 in Rwanda, 2014 with friends in Nigeria, 2015 in Rwanda (I was planning to propose to my future wife), 2016 in Alabama (mentioned above), 2017 in United Kingdom with Sheila and 2018 in Paris with my parents, brother/sister-in-law and Sheila. Therefore, it was hard to come to the realization that after moving to South Africa, I would be spending Thanksgiving alone. Sheila was stuck in the United States trying to get a visa to South Africa (more on that story below) and I was busy traveling between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. I tried to focus mostly on work on Thanksgiving Day because for South Africans, it was just another day in the office. However, social media did not allow that to happen. Each post was a picture of friends celebrating Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Everywhere I turned, more photos of friends frying a turkey, decorating a cake and eating delicious food. Social media was more than I could handle.
But on Friday, my I mood moved away from depression to shock because while South Africans were working hard while Americans were eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day, on this particular day, South Africans were participating in a similar fab that has consumed the world – BLACK FRIDAY. Yes, people were running to shopping malls all over South Africa to get a Black Friday deal. It was crazy. I was completely shocked that Black Friday had made it all the way to the southern tip of the African continent. I went to the mall just to experience the chaos and craziness of South Africans buying everything they could put their hands on. I am proud to say that I did not buy anything.
On Saturday, my mood went from shock to happiness as Sheila arrived from the United States. We were planning to depart Nigeria together but since she is a Rwandan citizen, she requires a visa to South Africa. Now, truth be told, she had a visa to the South Africa. She got it in the US in August. However, my organization delayed our departure until the end of October. We decided to apply for a visa at the South African High Commission in Abuja. This was probably our worst decision. We had been told that the South African High Commission could be nonresponsive and slow at processing visas. However, we assumed that since Sheila had an expired visa; it would be an easy process. Boy were we wrong. In the end, we decided to recall Sheila’s passport and send her to the US to apply for a visa. Instead of us traveling to South Africa together, we went our separate ways. So I was extremely delighted when she arrived in Johannesburg in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
On Sunday, my mood went from happiness to sheer amazement as Auburn pulled off an epic defeat of Alabama (Sorry to my Alabama fan friends)! I have been watching Auburn football since 1999 and as a diehard fan, I have watched many games where Auburn either stalls and unable to keep up in a high scoring affair or unable to mount a comeback. I have had a lot of sleepless nights watching Auburn football from the continent. I have been either too depressed to sleep after a 3am lost to a school that we should have beat or to excited after an epic win (AU vs. UGA 2013). It was amazing to watch Auburn go toe to toe with Alabama and use a few trick plays to win the football game. Now add in the success of Auburn basketball and now I get very little sleep between August and April.