I happened to go to the airport over the weekend escorting a colleague to my client. While travelling, I couldn’t help but notice the trek it took to get from the city centre to the airport, 40 Kms away. It indeed was a journey that set the journey to wherever one was going.
Seated at the back, cars swishing back and forth, it felt like a journey down memory lane. Back in the days when air travel was a new thing, to us who only waved at aeroplanes in the sky saying “Bye President” like he’d hear us let alone see us. Back in the day, going to the airport was an event. A Family Event.
Whenever a person was leaving the country, the family gathered, had meetings, discussed everything that needed to be discussed but most importantly, who was escorting the traveller to the airport. Whoever owned a car back then naturally called dibs.
Back in the car, I couldn’t help but smile. When my father had travelled back in the day, we’d put on our special Sunday clothes to escort him. It was a big deal. If you missed this trip, you’d never see a place close by. And the fact that the lake Victoria was close by, that intensified the experience. The chance to see the lake close by, and aeroplanes, that doubled the whole experience.
We arrived at the airport and led the my client’s guest to the departures area. There, I was mesmerised. 20 years down the road, and yes, this subculture was still very alive. Families were gathered around, waving goodbyes to this person, and not because they were going overseas or out of the country but most probably because they were going to sit on a plane. And when this person came back, they had better have awesome stories to tell about their travel on the aeroplane. The question most asked about someone who has used the aeroplane is “How was the flight?” It’s never, how was where you’ve been, the weather there, the purpose of your travel there. . .it is always, “how was your flight?” closely followed by “What did you bring for us?”
I stood there and mused. Nothing has changed for many. Family group hugs, a grandmother here, coming to see her grandchild off, and the best part, the white folk looking on in amazement. Most probably wondering why this was happening and why it looked like a big deal. Well, here is why. . .90% of the population in third world countries have only seen aeroplanes. They’ve never been in one and well, getting a family member to step onto one and travel is on almost everyone’s bucket list.
I’ve outgrown my Sunday clothes days, but I am glad this tradition is very much alive.
To aeroplanes and beyond.
Have a great week.