As the year ends most people are reflecting on highlights and low points of 2004 and not wanting to be left out of this experience I have decided to look back on some of the funnier racialy ignorant conversations that I have been involved in. I can safely say that in all the instances below no offence was intended and none was taken. Most of the comments were made by people I consider friends…and that is probably why I still find myself laughing.
1. Dances with Lions.
After having embarassed myself by running away from a bee that decided to invade my chill time in a friend’s back yard, someone said to me,
“How can you be scared of a small bee when you live in a country that has lions, rhinos and other wild animals”
I politely informed him that in all the time I have been in Kenya not once has a lion or a rhino or any other form of wild life turned up in our garden, and in the unlikely this event that this were to happen….I would still embarass myself by running away.
Same person as above; this time the conversation turned to my hair and all the hairstyles I have ever had in the past. (Everything but a Jheri-Curl!). I mentioned I used to have an afro before I locked my hair. His response was,
“Afro? Oh my…that is just so Starsky and Hutch”
Now maybe its just me, but I know when I think of Afros, Starsky and Hutch is NOT the first thing that springs to mind.
3. Dancing Gene.
This happened in Belize. I was dancing away to some amazing African/Garifuna drumming when one volunteer remarked that I could Punta well. Another then said,
“Well that’s probably because she has been doing it all her life”
I quickly pointed out that Punta is not a dance that we have in Kenya and before I came to Belize I hade never seen it or heard of it. To which the person then said;
“I know that, but what I meant is that you probably were brought up to dance from a very young age”
Er..then I must clearly have had a deprived childhood because my parents never taught me to dance, play basketball or sing like Whitney!
5a. President of Africa
I was travelling on the bus with a Belizean workmate of a friend and he was really interested in the fact that I come from Africa. Halfway through the conversation he asked me who the President of Africa was. I told him that there was no such thing as a President of Africa. With a look of sheer horror he exclaimed;
“You guys don’t have a President?”
I informed him that Africa was a continent made up of over 50 countries, all with their own leaders and system of government.
5b. President of South Africa.
Following on from the above conversation, the same guy then asked me about Nelson Mandela and I told him he was the former President of South Africa. This was his response;
“Oh…I get it now; so who is the President of East Africa and West Africa and North Africa?”
I really hope Santa got him an atlas for Christmas