Amani Oh! Amani: My evolving Africa – Part 1

Neil Malilwe Amani Oh Amani

An unquenched thirst and hunger for more

Filled with skepticism and a sense of an unfulfilling experience after coming from the Amandla East and Southern Africa Fellowship 2016, I was craving for further knowledge and I sought to learn more, therefore, applying for the Amani Youth Africa Fellowship 2 on virtually the last day before closing was a no brainer. I had to throw my name in the hat again.

It was a hard gamble as I knew there were/are many young individual across the African continent that deserved more from this opportunity than I did. Appreciating this fact and knowing I had no control over the outcome whatsoever, I decided not to worry and let things be. As much as I did not let it bother me, it did cross my mind, a lot actually. Exploring both the possibilities of being accepted or not and what implications it would have on me. All the analytical stuff went through my mind, coming to think of it, I did let it bother me.

I guess the selection panel saw something in my application that convinced them I needed this fellowship, after receiving the confirmation and offer to attend the fellowship on a full sponsorship. I was filled with apathy and a sense of uncertainty. It seems my excitement was inhibited.  So many things were going through my mind. Was I the right pick? Did I deserve this opportunity? Was I still curious to learn and discover more about my inner self and inner peace? Was this all worth it? A classic definition of a wandering mind in meditation terms. Despite all this, I did not hesitate accepting the offer as I knew these were the kinds of things that happened once in a blue moon.

Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear ~ William Congreve

The see-saw preparation game

Neil Malilwe prep

After realizing this fellowship was going to happen, at this point, my confidence and enthusiasm had somewhat returned. I was beginning to rediscover my eager interest to learn ways of rediscovering inner peace and relishing the prospect of meeting individuals from different cultures, backgrounds and circumstances.

Even though my mind and body were in agreement and I was ready for the uncertainty and long travel ahead, I had to deal with one important thing, I had to get my visa sorted. As Zambia has no Royal Thai Embassy or consulate, the only option was to apply from South Africa, luckily, I did not need to appear in person. The whole idea of going about this process gave me doubts, I procrastinated, but I thought to myself, If I wanted this soo much, I was going to work through this one last hurdle.

In the end, the whole process was seamless and I had my travel documents in time. Coming to think of it, I felt a little ashamed of feeling lazy to go through this process when I learned how challenging it was for my friends from West Africa to get their visas, I almost never met the hand of the King, Awanto. Remember, whatever situation you are going through, someone else is going through a more challenging one.

The beginning of a long, long journey

Neil Malilwe Amani Travel

Time came and I had to travel. You never prepare to leave your family and life behind even if you are going away for a weekend. The feeling is undefined, it’s just odd and weird in the sense differently felt by others. It was going to get even more challenging knowing that I was going to have zero contact, completely off the grid with the outside world for two weeks, that had never happened before in my life and being a techy, these are things of the apocalypse. I was going to be restricted immediate access to information and electronics, except for a camera, this was going to be hard.

By now, I realized Amani is something I needed to do to have a better chance of sorting out so many intertwined things in my life, I had to man up! I needed to get full control of my life, my future and my sense of peace and this was the right step forward.

With airport nostalgia and the plane taking off, I knew my journey had begun, I was I going to complete this endeavour or fall off on the sidelines, defeated, well, I had to take it one step at a time, there was no need to rush – It was like learning to fly, or falling in love ~ Jordin Sparks 🙂

Connecting through Addis Ababa was an interesting process. My two Zambian counterparts and I met the other fellows who we would be connecting with on the same flight and taking part in the fellowship with. Pleasantries exchanged and all the excitement of small talk but it was clear that the traveling and other things leading up to this point had started taking a toll on everyone.

Being an introvert, it can be very overwhelming meeting so many people at one instance, being endearing, remembering names and trying to hold up a conversation for the sake of solidarity, ubuntu? so I did what I best know how, that was to retreat for a bit. Nowhere to run, music was my escape and my earphones my medium for the escape.

Two major highlights happened in Addis, the first one was reuniting with Thapelo Maja from the Amandla fellowship earlier this year. I had a sense of relief that I was not the only one from Amandla who made it to Amani  2 and for some reason, I was not surprised to see Thapelo, I don’t know why but it seemed right that she was there. The other significant moment was meeting and having a brief, genuine chat with Awanto, I did not have any ounce that this was going to be the beginning of a Peace Kingdom 🙂 and potentially great friendship, I guess the universe aligned at that moment and the rest will be told.

As a group, we all connected seamlessly and after a very long flight , we arrived in Bangkok safely, the routine airport processes and everyone seeming rightfully knackered and trying their best to contact their families as they knew they would be away for a while, without commutation, it was expected.

Exiting the luggage area and being greeted by the wonderful World Peace Initiative Foundation volunteers and interns, I guess it hit me at this point that the fellowship had finally begun….

Neil Malilwe Amani Oh Amani pick up_Fotor

To be continued…

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