Hey, Mzungu!

mzungu t-shirtAs you walk around many African cities, you’ll hear one word popping up over and over: Mzungu. It means “White Person” and comes from a contraction that means “Person who moves around.” Earlier this week, I bought myself a T-Shirt with “Mzungu” emblazoned on it.  It seems pretty obvious that people don’t realize you understand that when they say the word they’re talking about you.  Wearing the T-Shirt gives them a clue. Tonight, I wore the shirt down to dinner.  Several of the wait staff and the manager of the restaurant made comments about my shirt. “Interesting shirt” “Like it?” “Yeah” One man asked me if I knew what the word meant and how I knew.  We had a lengthy conversation where we talked about culture, movies, and the way people act.  During this, one of other men came up and said “How are you, Mzungu?”  “Fine, thank you.” That was all he wanted to say, but we both got a kick out of it.

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