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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Indian Ocean

  After leaving Africa. I grew up in Anjouan.  And it was home for me. Africa was a memory, a place where our relatives live and we go visit  every two years. I was speaking Comorian, going to French school, and struggling to speak Kirundi at home.  My  dad told us we were citizens of the world but African first. That we were not just in exile, refugees or immigrants. Both of my parents were speaking  more than three languages. And they stressed how education was important. I  dearly love my childhood there. It was magical. And every night I would sit and watch the moonlight with my mother. She would share stories about her childhood and Africa. I vividly remember her face and I look so much like her today.  However I was so confused by that Hutu- Tutsi story, we were both from grandparents but officially Hutu.  I was born in Rwanda but I  was Burundian speaking french, Comorian, and more comfortable with Kinyarwanda than Kirundi .So I decided that I was everything and nothing. And Comoros was the perfect place for it. People were Africans, Indians, Arabs, mixed and Europeans. As a child I mainly noticed that Europeans had more fancy stuffs.
The islands were originally settled by Malays, Africans and Arabs, then by prosperous refugees from Persia who created their own sultanates. In the seventeenth century European and American pirates such as Captain Kidd used the islands, but during the nineteenth century France's influence increased until in 1912 Comoros was declared a colony. This lasted until 1975, when the islands gained independence, but political instability persisted between the islands, with reluctant power sharing. As late as March 2008 the African Union had to be called in to resolve a political crisis. Most Comorians live at subsistence level and many work abroad. The export of perfume from ylang-ylang, jasmine and orange trees is important, as is vanilla, cloves and pepper. The population numbers over 750,000 and are a mixture of Arab, African, Malay, Malagasy and French origins. Most are Muslim. French and Arabic are official languages, with Comorian, a language closely related to Swahili, widely used. Moroni on Grande Comore is the capital.

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