A Temporary African American
By tessa sheehan
A Temporary African American
It’s not everyday a person meets a native African with royal decent. Puwai Mpofu was born in Harare, Zimbabwe Africa. As a student at the University of Idaho he is subjected to many watchful eyes and bombarded with questions daily. An issue he doesn’t seem to mind, but in fact enjoys.
Mpofu said that he noticed numerous differences between African and American cultures quickly after entering the U.S. “I had to taste it,” he said. Mpofu had lived for 19 years and had never been around snow. He had also never lived around people who were not community and family oriented. He was surprised to find that American families had close relationships with immediate family members and his family held close relationships with all family members. “We have huge families that are really close,” he said, “Everybody knows everybody.”
He noticed that Americans tend to live for themselves as opposed to Africans, who live by a more community based lifestyle. At Christmas all of his family gets together at his grandmother’s huge estate. It’s a street 20 kilometers lined with houses on both sides and filled with cousins, aunts, grandparents and every other kind of family member.
It was his younger siblings that inspired his first career dream. Mpofu wanted to become a doctor because he constantly was taking care of his little sisters and brother. “I was always helping my younger sisters. I was good at it,” he said. It wasn’t until later in his life that he developed a love for architecture. He now hopes to develop his own architecture firm. A mentor, who is also an architect, had attended the UI, which helped to somewhat sway Mpofu’s decision.
Mpofu’s parents gave him and his siblings the choice to go anywhere in the world for college. He’s glad he decided to come to America for college because it has opened his mind and exposed him to experiences that have changed his life. He likes how the American system somehow works.
Currently his 20 year old sister is attending college in Australia. His brother, 18, is a senior in high school and will be going to college next year anywhere he wants to go in the world. His thirteen year old sister isn’t contemplating college yet, but plays the violin.
Mpofu has some hobbies of his own. Back massaging, bow-hunting, fishing and cycling are just a few. His apartment is laced with sweet smelling oils and lotions that are made strictly to arouse the senses and calm the mind. His mom often treated him to back massages after she helped a woman start her own spa. “It’s something that everyone doesn’t get to enjoy like I have,” said Mpofu.
He hopes to one day open an architecture firm in Africa and help build homes for the African people. He doesn’t think that Africa has its own style of architecture. He said China, Mexico and many other countries have their own style and structure designs. “We got stuck with the hut,” Mpofu said. His goal is to revolutionize African architecture and bring African people low cost houses.
He is 22 and a junior who considers himself a liberal. Mpofu’s favorite movie is “The Gods Must be Crazy.” His favorite band, Black Mambazo, a harmonic oriented band is from Africa as well as sadza, his favorite food.
In 10 years Mpofu sees himself working and managing his architecture firm and has no clue what his relationship status will be. His motto is no regrets. As of now he has none but says he learns from his mistakes.
© tessa sheehan