August 5, 2007


Waiting for a late-night mini-bus, your standard issue bus hustler inquires
Mini Bus Hustler: You know what we call your people in Africa?
Me: Yeah, mzungus.
MBH: *laughs* Right, but to me you’re BLACK MAN!

At a downtown intersection, a squalid kid asks for money
Mangy child: Boss! Boss! Kwacha for food… hungry.
Rubs gut, points towards Hungry Lion fast food behind me
Me: Where’s your mom?
Points vaguely to a mass of people
Me: Has she no Kwacha for food?
MC: (smiles) But I waaaant boss cream.
Motions again with licking action
Me: *laughs* You want ice cream?! That’s not a meal.
MC: Fine, chicken.

Near an open-air market, a stray vendor tests the limits of entrepreneurship
Bad salesman: You want screwdriver?
He displays a case where over half of the pieces are obviously missing
Me: Um, no thanks.
Undeterred, he reaches into a back pocket, producing a set of novelty-sized pink combs
BS: Combs? Good price.

Walking by the utterly decrepit Lusaka Central Police Station
Zambian friend: And that’s our main police station.
Me: Why are so many windows broken?
ZF: Oh, that’s where people have jumped.
I wonder how wretched Zambian prisons must be

At an open-bar social after making a human rights presentation at a journalism conference, undecipherable Zambian pop music plays loudly
Co-worker 1: Hey Brandon, the floor is open. Come dance with us!
My eldest colleague, clearly three sheets, motions to the dance floor
Me: No, thanks. Maybe after a few more of these.
I point to my Mosi (local beer), not at all wanting to confirm white dancing stereotypes
Co-worker 2: C’mon, it’s your human right to dance!
Co-worker 3: *laughs* Like you told us, freedom of expression!

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