when I was in africa...
(geez, I start my sentences like this too often these days)
...people used to point at us and laugh "Mzungus!" ...I even saw parents teaching their little kiddos to call us mzungus.
After some time I didn't feel like mzungu anymore. I felt like I'm one of local people. And when we went to safari I was the one who used to think "look Mzungus!"
They looked funny to me. Sitting in their safari cars, bored, listening to their ipods, with noses painted white with sunblock.
We laughed at Mzungus in Nairobi - holding their bags in front of them as if they had steaks in there and hungry lions were jumping out from around the corner any minute.
For me, mzungu wasn't "white person" for me it was a "westerner" a person who didn't belong.
one day, I was standing outside with Anastasia, holding hands, and then she looked down and pointed to her hand and said "black" and then touched my hand and said "white" and laughed.
Growing up, I was taught there is no difference between people, I knew we were all the same and I knew not to point out any differences. Because you know, it's not polite etc.
but honestly I never really cared. saying someone has darker skin than me seemed pointless - just like it would be to say - look he has brown eyes!
(of course you say things like that sometimes - oh, I know you have brown eyes - the nicest brown eyes I've ever seen! - but you say that to the love of your life, to show him you love every single bit of him.)
some people grow up, scared of differences, pretending there aren't any, just to make their lives more comfortable. I wasn't scared, I just learned to ignore them.
...sometimes it's good, because I do believe something as trivial as the color of your skin or your eyes or whether or not your hair is curly doesn't really matter, but Anastasia made me think.
She saw the difference. Meeting volunteers from all around the world every day, mzungus coming to her home and staying. Some of them longer, some just for a couple of weeks.
She saw the difference, but didn't care.
She didn't say it in a way which would tell me I don't belong, she didn't make me feel different, she just said it, with the raw honesty every child possess and life went on. We kept holding hands and watching boys play football.
She smiled, I smiled and I've learned a lot.
Diferences should be celebrated. It's useless to pretend we're all the same.
It's silly to pretend I have blue eyes. I know they are grey with those stupid little freckles of brown on some places. They are not the same as my mom has. I wanted them to be the same... before.
leaving africa and all my kids behind was the hardest part.
and in the middle of my journey back home, somewhere on the bench, at the airport in Cairo, I realized I'm no longer "mzungu".
I was, once again, just a westerner among westerners, traveling. No one cared where I went, no one noticed me and then it hit me - that means there have to be mzungus all around me. I've spent an hour just sitting there, waiting for my next plane, trying to say who was white and who was black.
It was hard. after being away from home for such a long time, seeing mzungus only two times - once in Nairobi and once on safari, and then suddenly everything changes and instead of people you've been seeing all summer there are mzungus all around you, it's pretty confusing.
and so instead of being a good girl and looking past the differences, I was sitting there, trying my best to find them.
People I've met in africa weren't afraid to see the difference. differences are beautiful - that's what we should learn.
/and yes, I still believe differences aren't important, and I know we're all the same - all of us, children of the same Father...but I LOVE the fact that He made us all different/