“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” (C.S Lewis)
ANLP can be described in one word…INTENSE. Intense activities, intense challenges, intense growth, intense fun. Many team activities that will stretch you, sometimes bringing out both the best and worst in you.
On the second day of ANLP, Team Lion was tasked with coordinating the activities of the whole day. A group of perfect strangers from Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Uganda, were tossed into a bowl together and expected to produce a Pan-African salad. High pressure activities + a group of strangers + sleep deprivation normally equals a recipe for disaster but somehow we pulled off our assigned task. As fate would have it, a week later we found ourselves in the same position- hosting another day’s activities. We were ten times more sleep deprived, a hundred times more exhausted, but were somehow able to have infinite times more fun. As a team, over the past week we have argued and debated, shared life stories and experiences, laughed and cried together. The more we understood each other the more we listened and empathised. We learnt how to laugh at each other and also learnt how to laugh at ourselves. Where we initially hesitated, we initiated and where a few days prior we would have assumed, we now ventured to ask. As we draw near the end of the programme it is evident that for us high pressure activities + a group of strangers + sleep deprivation has been a recipe for friendship.
The friendships formed in ANLP extend beyond our allocated teams. At the start of the programme, we arrived as individuals, some bound by their countries and others by their work. However today as I watch the group shuffle out of the door for dinner, I notice the natural way we gravitate towards each other, moving in clusters towards the dining room. I feel that we have developed a unity of purpose from helping each other overcome the physical and mental barriers we encountered each time we were mercilessly nudged (kicked!) out of our comfort zones. Bonds born out of the realisation that we are in this together. Friendships that in many cases started with the sentence "What! You too?”, but gradually evolved into some of the most authentic of human interactions.