I MISS THE RAIN IN AFRICA – by Nancy Wesson (Uganda)

At a time when her friends were planning cushy retirements, Nancy Wesson instead walked away from a comfortable life and business to head out as a Peace Corps Volunteer in post-war Northern Uganda. She embraced wholeheartedly the grand adventure of living in a radically different culture, while turning old skills into wisdom.

Returning home became a surreal experience in trying to reconcile a life that no longer “fits.” This becomes the catalyst for new revelations about family wounds, mystical experiences, and personal foibles.

Nancy shows us the power of stepping into the void to reconfigure life and enter the wilderness of the uncharted territory of our own memories and psyche, to mine the gems hidden therein. Funny, heartbreaking, insightful and tender, I Miss the Rain in Africa is the story of honoring the self, discovering a new lens through which to view life, and finding joy along the path.

The Author Writes:

Nancy Daniel Wesson (Uganda 2011-13)

Honestly, when I began, this is not the book I set out to write. My initial intention was to share what it was like to totally step out of the mainstream and jettison a business, an old identity and comfy-trappings at a time when most of my friends were planning cushy retirements. I felt driven to share this rich world I experienced in Uganda, and I had so many stories to tell, I literally couldn’t carry on a conversation without another one spilling out. As I told these tales to friends, and spoke about my experiences at various events, people admitted to being shocked out of their safe-zones into a realization of their lack of awareness of their own privilege and of the challenges other people faced, just to survive.

After hearing what Ugandan children sacrificed just for the privilege of going to school, high school students, bored with life and school, left with a little more appreciation for the opportunity to learn.

I thought these stories were worth sharing, and as a writer . . . well, I had to write! As I wrote and got to what I thought was going to be “The End,” I realized it wasn’t the end at all. And that’s where the mischief started and my inner muse took over, and I literally had no idea where we were going . . . but I hung on for dear life! When I’d come home from Africa, I felt like a total stranger in the life and world I’d left. All of my reference points — physical and emotional — had changed; things I’d taken for granted had become treasures, and those I’d once valued had become irrelevant. The events that made up the stories I so wanted to tell became a catalyst for distilling life-going forward into its most relevant and sacred parts.

Growing up in Baton Rouge and the rich cultural gumbo of South Louisiana, where spirituality, religion and witchcraft mingled and nothing was as it seemed, birthed my tendency to question authority, reality, and the status quo, resulting in my navigating life by a different compass. My education was bracketed by a Master’s Degree in Audiology on one end and deep immersion in eastern studies on the other.

I write from what I’ve experienced. My first book, Moving Your Aging Parents, started writing itself as background chatter on the interminable road trips to move my own aging parent. At the time, I was in the thick of running my consulting business, Focus on Space. After fifteen years of that—at the age of 64, I walked away and cliff-jumped into the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I’ve traveled far-and-wide; cruised on a small sailboat; raised kids, businesses, and husbands; and had more than a few adventures, but nothing compared to the deep immersion in war-torn Northern Uganda. That and the consequent plunge into the wilderness of my own psyche and the new self that emerged, has been—by far—the greatest of these adventures, as told in: I Miss The Rain In Africa.

I Miss the Rain in Africa: Peace Corps as a Third Act
by Nancy Daniel Wesson (Uganda 2011-13)
Modern History Press, May 2021
296 pages
$24.95 (Paperback); $7.95 (Kindle); $37.95 (Hardcover)

2 Comments

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  • I read this wonderful book. Actually, my son found it for me as a birthday present and thought that Wesson’s experience as a PC volunteer in an African country was similar to mine in Senegal at age 55. It is, in many ways. I also was surprised and enjoyed the last chapters when she talks about her spiritual work with people, as well as her own inner journey.

    It’s a fascinating, well-written book. Isn’t the cover beautiful!

    Leita Kaldi Davis
    RPCV Senegal 1993-96
    Recipient Lillian Carter Award 2017

  • After spending two youthful yeas as a PCV, living without water or electricity, dodging snakes and occasional nighttime patrols of weapons-at-the-ready young soldiers, I quite admire Nancy’s spunk and engagement with such challenges. I’m not sure I’d be able or willing to break out of my retirement to do that. I look forward to reading her book and getting her perspective on the experience.
    I certainly identified with having family and friends urging her to write down those stories and vignettes. That is what prodded me to write a memoir, “Life’s Treks and Trails: My Journey from Vale to Kathmandu” and, subsequently,a novel of dark intrigue, “Devil’s Breath”. Like Nancy, I didn’t anticipate where the weaving together of recollections would lead me and was constantly struck by unexpected turns and twists….the story, enriched now by many intervening years of experiences, wrote itself.

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