Stories from A Third World Country
By Rory C. Keel
During a missionary trip to Nigeria, I observed a stark contrast in two different cultures.
On a street corner in the city of Aba, two young boys wrestled in the heat of battle. Each one flailed their arms, wielding tightened fists in order to land the most decisive and final blow. Words spewed from their lips with the intent to damage the mind and weaken the heart of the opponent. Each one kicked wildly, trying to topple the other in order to gain the advantage. An elderly gentleman slowly hobbled his way through the crowd that formed a circled arena around the two fighters. His Silver hair framed a face wrinkled by the frustrations of life and time. Bent at the shoulders, he steadied his feeble stride with a cane whittled from a branch that had fallen from a tree.
Raising the stick, he jabbed both boys to gain their attention as he yelled above the crowd, “Stop it! Stop this nonsense!”
At that moment, I became afraid for the old man.
In the American culture, this is the point where the cell phone videos of the old man poking the boys would be put on trial in the media. Newscasters on the hour, every hour, would instruct their listeners on what to believe about the situation. The parents of the boys, not knowing or uncaring about the location and activities of their children, would suddenly become violently concerned about an old man harming their sweet innocent children. Lawyers seeking riches or fame would immediately volunteer to file lawsuits on behalf of the boys. In America it would be the moment when the crowd would turn to heckle, mock and torment the one who had interrupted their gladiators. The two combatants would join forces, cursing with vile phrases to humiliate a new common enemy. They would claim self-defense and laugh as they struck him down in his feebleness.
I stood in this third world country located northeast of the Cameroon Mountains on the African continent, and watched with amazement as this event unfolded. The crowd immediately grew silent and stared at the two boys, who now glared directly into the eyes of the frail elder and said, “Yes, sir!”
And we want to Americanize everyone else!
What contrasts do you see in those around you? Take time to watch how people interact. Go to a mall, restaurant or park and observe different people, then write what you see and hear.
These differences will add depth to your characters.