In a positive and complimenting way, and it always made me smile when the Serbs said: 'When will you be back?' and the Tanzanians 'Lakini, you must stay.'
As if there is no other alternative.
I come from a country that indulges in law-making which can keep foreigners out; make integration an everyday challenge; who don't involve people who are not part of their usual circle; who do dinner table dinners with pre-set guest lists; and who aren't very good at complimenting foreigners. After almost 40 years they'll still criticize the Prince Consort for his Danish prononciation, though he speaks Danish grammatically correct. And they will never say: 'Oh, you speak Danish!' like the waswahili positively conclude: 'unasema Kiswahili' when you're embarrassing yourself trying to figure out the right tense.
Maybe that's why I've always noted the hospitality in other countries.
Africans love Africa. I used to know South Africans, Congolese, Nigerians and Tanzanians in Copenhagen who got lonely and restless. Europe will always only be a middle station to most Africans, at least mentally. You go to Europe to educate or work, to use your skills to send money home. There was the Zulu who poured alcohol on my door mat in my Copenhagen flat back in June 2005 as a fare safely ritual; and Prince, Prince, Emeika and Sonny, the Nigerians, who would take me to Guinea Bissau, the African bar, drinking Carlsberg Elephant Beer.
Today I had my farewell reception at work. My second last day for the NGO I have worked for for the past 10 years. Whereas the Danes will say what they think I want: that obviously I'll get a new job in Copenhagen just like that, the Tanzanian auto-reply is straight forward, lovely naive: 'But you have to come back! How can you not be in Africa?'
I'm obviously flattered. I know a great deal of it is based in the swahili politeness. That it really hasn't so much to do with me as a person, as it has with the fact that Africa per African definition is just a better place to be.
Enchanting, considering the image Africa has in the rest of the world and how many empty words we fill into our poverty reduction strategies. Nevertheless, Africa is just so much more self-confident.