It is definitely one of the most interesting aspects of the profession of tourist guide. The chance to meet different people every day who come from every corner of the world. Sure you soon get used to the Americans, Japanese, Australians, British and all the other Europeans and Westerners in general. I remain rather definitely surprised when I have New Zealanders, Chinese, Turks, Romanians, Brazilians and Argentines. And then with absolute amazement I welcome guests from Panama, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Iceland, Dubai, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong or Taiwan. So in my ideal world map there are flags on almost all the countries and continents of the world. Yeah, almost. But at the end of last summer the gap was filled.
It was a warm morning in mid-September, I received a phone call and the voice on the other side speaks in English: “We have just arrived in Matera, two of us and we would like to take a tour in the Sassi. Are you available? “. I sense from the accent they are not mother tongue English speakers and I expect the “usual” Scandinavian couple or Belgian or Dutch or maybe East European. We agree the place and time of the meeting and I leave from home. In a few minutes I get to Piazza VittorioVeneto, the heart of Town Centre, and from a distance I see in the point established the couple waiting for me: they are very young and … blacks, so black! But I remember the accent of him on the phone and…there must be something not quite right: they can not be American or British … so what? “Where are you from ?”, is always the first question I ask when I introduce myself to the guests, made with even more conviction this time. The answer is pleasantly surprising: they come fromNigeria! Abu and Safina are my very first African guests, now my virtual world tour is complete: I have “crossed” all five continents.
They just got married and they are enjoying their honeymoon in Europe: today have decided to stop in Matera. I’m so curious about their history and especially to know the other face ofAfrica, the one that, in spite of everything, is emancipated from the misery in which the West guiltily keeps and try to build the future they deserve. Abu is a young civil engineer, consultant of a construction company, instead Safina has just graduated in Medicine and now is about to begin specialization. They are happy and smile all the time. Their company is very pleasant, beyond any easy rhetoric. I feel embarrassed and enriched at the same time. In fact, I feel ashamed to think that I too had a distorted image of Africa, what the media instrumentally give us every day . Of course misery is there and it is devastating, the real cancer of the modern world. But there is also a principle of rebirth, however, that perhaps it is better to ignore … But I now no longer ignore that and I am absolutely happy about that.
Now I know thatNigerianot only rhymes with … misery.