I experienced some reverse racism today. we caught a matatu into Ukunda, and the driver tried to rip us off. a woman in the vehicle told the driver that she had paid less and that he should give us the same rate. this started a heated fight that lasted until we got off. it was very uncomfortable but interesting at the same time. (and all this over a few shillings!)
This afternoon, as i was sitting on the beach of the gorgeous turquoise-colored indian ocean, i read something interesting in Paul Theroux’s book, Dark Star Safari. “There is a certain hypocrisy of seeing strangers as savage: every man calls barbarous the thing he is not accustomed to.” i think this goes along perfectly with my thoughts today on racism. i know it exists everywhere at a certain level but it is crucial to at least make an effort to combat it whenever possible. i know i am guilty of classifying or categorizing people before really getting to know them. especially here in africa. it is easy to cast judgements when there seems to be so much untapped potential, so much energy that is trapped behind circumstance. so much of a lifestyle that is solely based on survival. today i finally tasted some of the bitterness of these people on the matatu. i am just a mzungu from wazunguland, someone to blame, and someone who has come to Kenya with an easy escape back to the comfort of my home town and my people. i can easily retreat, away from the empty shells of old buildings, the dusty pot-holed roads, the cracked dry land, andthe exhausted, failing generation.
A lot of people see africa as a continent delayed–economies in suspension, societies up in the air, politics and human rights put on hold, communities throttled or stopped. but i am finding out that african time is simply not the same as american time. many of these people, although living in dire circiumstances, wait uncomplainingly for something to change. they have hope. and persistence. and they seem determined to make the most out of the life they have been blessed with.