There is a rhythm that we dance to, we young people in Africa. It thumps like drums in the wild, always calling for us to step with somebody. Partners are plenty, styles are many and each melody sings a different promise. To dance a beautiful dance is the heart’s most fulfilling desire, but it is a treacherous wild in which we must find our match. There are butterflies and beasts among us; some masked in sharp camouflage and others too plain to be noticed. We have vicious females and dominant males, predators and prey, and prey turned predator. And often, the most gentle spirits choose the darkest souls; like sun-rays dancing with the lightening. This is finding love in Africa – an ecosystem of eager hearts connected to a rhythm, but stepping in the dark.

Somewhere along the line, we lost it; we lost the light. Nobody got up to shine the way and teach us a public culture of how to love “in African”. It’s each man and woman for themselves and often it gets unnecessarily ugly before it can beautiful. The more we become a global village the more our roles change and the more we feel displaced, dancing out of rhythm. On one hand, the new Queen of the jungle hunts on her own and leads her own pride. She is proud and strong but she is also this way because she has walked a thorny path. Like all of us, she has fallen for the lure of the drum time and again, only to be disappointed to find that she shared a dance with a jackal in zebra skin. These scavengers take and leave nothing; they are lustful and violent; their tongues slither and seduce, while their skin sheds in the morning. They have left her cold and mechanical, dancing for function not emotion – she now mirrors the savage handling of her heart at the hands of dark males.

On the other hand, few Kings are left in the jungle that have a full mane – a self-pride that is unshaken, un-threatened and also unchanged by a strong female. Too many toothless lions now roam the field as outlaws and without a pride. All they know is how to mate and busk in the sun while waiting for the female to return with a meal before they move on. There is no responsibility in their DNA, they care for no pride and have only violence to atone for their masculinity. But like the Queens, the true Kings have also paid a price for their nobility;  it is the jungle after all. There is another type of cat-like female found here which is colourful and golden eyed – with a tail that lingers, swerving behind her. She is attractive and seductive, and racy like the cheetah but also cunning in her beauty like the leopard. Ultimately, she will bite. And so, due to their fair share of pain, the Kings have become unforgiving. They will not raise cubs outside their DNA,; if their partner steps out of the pride she will not return and if she is confused, they will not fight for her.

You might think, all this gloom, where did it go wrong? Well, recently an author named T. Harv Eker opened my eyes to the root of plenty of our hurt. He writes that as people, we have all made a common mistake, and that mistake is that we confuse attention with love. People seeking attention shine the brightest, they glow as if they are kissed by the sun and we are left paralyzed by their sparkle, at the mercy of their will. For them, this dance is a showcase, it’s about what you can do for them and what you can give them so that they can achieve a certain goal. Even the sweetest of souls get this thirst for attention, and a shortage of replenishment will make a savage of any of us. But no one person will quench this shallow and relentless thirst. People who look for love, however,  shine the deepest – inwardly. They want to discover who they will become when they dig down to find that light. It’s a journey of courage – one that hardly ever makes sense, but they are prepared to go to this place where their mind is stuck at, where their spirit is pulled to and where their heart has become its own drum. They say you will know for sure when you know for sure. Till then, dance slowly.