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Bulgaria's Honorary Consul in Namibia Mihail Mihaylov - about the other face of Africa

Photo: архив

"!Gugue looked up at the sky full of countless starts. He loved watching them. Lying on his back, he could spend hours enjoying them, talking to them. He asked them with all sorts of questions, and they answered him with twinkling... He was convinced that the stars are the eyes of dead people." So through the rhythm and spirit of African mythology, in his book Bushman Curse the Bulgarian Mihail Mihailov, Misho, introduces us to the life of the Bushmen hunters.

"I like Africa since my childhood - a very neat and interesting continent where the germ of civilization lies," explains Misho who has been living on the Black Continent for 30 years now. Part of his childhood passed in Tunisia. Later, he started work at the Embassy of Bulgaria in Ethiopia, but following the change of the political situation at home he was fired. "I decided not to forcibly return to where I'm not wanted. I emigrated to Namibia, a very clean and beautiful country and live there to this day," he says. He studied music, architecture and diplomacy and is today Dean of the Faculty of Modern Music at the College of Arts and Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Namibia. He devotes his leisure time to his passion - writing. His book Bushman Curse is taught in Namibian schools. It was inspired by the story of a Bushman who goes hunting during a prolonged drought in the Kalahari desert and never returns to the native village. His daughter heads to look for him and never returns, either. The narrative surprises with the author's deep knowledge of the traditions and philosophy of local people.

Did the first contact with such a different culture come as a shock for Misho?

"The shock of it was that I found some incredibly good people. Much kinder than the average European - in terms of their spirituality and morals. There are tribes in Namibia where the word for "war" does not exist. They are very clean and well-intentioned. Civilization has not yet brought to them the commercial environment in which we live in Europe, and the ordinary values of friendship and love are more important to them," he explains.

Does Africa give Mihail Mihaylov something that Europe cannot?

"Africa provides unique tranquillity. Time slows down its course and stops there. One is not in a hurry and is not so stressed out from the daily duties. People do not live by the clock. To me this is very important because I use my free time to write as I am fully committed to fiction. I guess if I lived in Bulgaria or France, the pressure and speed of my life would not have created this attitude, calm mood and inspiration."

How does Namibia manage to become a peaceful country without internal tensions? Could Bulgaria draw something from Namibia's experience?

"When in 1990 the first elections were held in Namibia, the ruling party SWAPOcame up with a very simple campaign slogan: let's forget the past! You surely are aware of the outrages during the apartheid in this country! Their slogan read: we do not blame anyone, we do not fire people, we do not tear down monuments, we do not nationalize foreign property as a bright future is built with love and forgiveness, not hatred and vendetta. And for 25 years now they have managed to maintain a policy of reconciliation and understanding. The past is not forgotten, but is not used as a prerequisite for political expression unlike in neighbouring South Africa where the established commission to investigate the crimes of the apartheid was a reason for the outbreak of constant tension. Unfortunately, we Bulgarians traditionally hold each other accountable.Starting from the medieval ruler Boris-Mihail who had to baptize the boyars and did it with a sword so that Bulgaria could enter the Christian community. The People's Court after the change of the regime in 1944-1945 sent innocent intelligent people to death. Bulgaria's most modern history also has such examples - demolition of mausoleums, setting fire to party headquarters, renaming of streets. It would be good if we could leave these bad moments in our past and unite - for the prosperity of the whole nation, not only certain groups," Misho concludes.

English Rossitsa Petcova


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