Monday, April 7, 2008

Exhibit A

I’m starting to feel like Barney, the big purple dinosaur, when I walk around here, based on the reaction of small children. My favorite was a couple of days ago with some little’uns from down my road came RUNNING over saying, “Mazungu! Mazungu!” I said to the girl, maybe 4, “How are you?” and she said, “Fine.” I said to the boy, “How are you?” and he said, “Fine,” and they both cracked up and ran away.

Behind me I could hear one of them saying “lugandaluganda Mazungu lugandalugandaluganda How are you lugandalugandaluganda Fine lugandaluganda How are you lugandalugandaluganda Fine lugandaluganda” gigglegigglegiggle.

Here is my very loose interpretation, which is probably the same as your own, since we know equal amounts of Luganda, except for those of you who know more than I do. “We went over to the mazungu and first she started talking to me and she said, ‘How are you?’ and I said ‘Fine’ and then she said to my brother ‘How are you?’ and he said ‘Fine.’ Can you believe it?” gigglegigglegiggle

I don’t know, that may be topped, though, by the time I was going home from the office after a day at work. The office is on the second floor of a building that has a restaurant on the first floor with a patio with square tables. I go out the back and down some stairs and then walk up the side and through the patio and up some stairs to leave. As I walked up the side and into the patio, a child, maybe two, sitting at a table with her older brother and her father, dropped the piece of pineapple she was holding, pointed, and shouted, MAZUNGU! I could just see her father cringe. But what can you do? I’m an exotic beast in these parts. It is a little like being at the zoo—being an inmate, that is.

1 comment:

qoe said...

This is a very sweet story. My friend Arthur today told me a story rather like it (about going to Detroit in the late 60's and giving a speech about the Free Speech and anti-Vietnam War movements to a conservative Jewish fraternal organization. His speech was followed up by a long statement given by the leader of the organization--all in Yiddish, which Arthur doesn't fluently speak. He heard his name mentioned a number of times during this very vehement speech, and wondered if he was being denounced, and whether he would make it out of the building safely! Finally, he turned to someone else and asked what had just been said [because his name was mentioned again], and the man replied "and the future belongs to young people like Arthur!"), so I shared your story with him, and he enjoyed it, also.