It should not be surprising to know that there is a word which is amazingly similar across a number of African languages for “white person.” With a side order of arrogance and perhaps a helping of “rich” buried in the connotations. According to my good friend Wiki, the term originated from “wandering or spinning around” which did well to describe the first European adventures. Explorers as they so named themselves to avoid the connotations of pirate or privateer. Often lost, but always certain.
I am not sure that the distinction actually holds since the intention was not just to explore the continent but to claim territory “in the name of [fill in the blank]” with certainly an expectation of reward on the part of many and fame back home for the rest.
According Harari (Sapiens – a Short History of Human Kind] one might consider the Empire period of history the>’ natural result of the shift from “we have all the answers” (a la religion) to “there is a lot out there we don’t know.” This admission of ignorance leaves the world wide open for discovery. Think about it for a second, especially those of you who have ancestors who made that journey (voluntary or otherwise) to a new country away from all that was known in an age where the best you could hope for was a reply to your letter months after you wrote.
Today there are millions everyday on their way to safe and secure adventure courtesy of the tourist industry. There are others who embark on a new life from adventure, belief, or economic necessity. I am leaving out the ex-pats who move because of jobs since the location often is secondary to the employment.
I had the opportunity this afternoon to venture out again. The road traffic is just as insane during the day but it somehow doesn’t seem quite as frightening since you can actually see the idiots on motorbikes, as well as those on foot more than a meter off your bumper. There are police out trying to regulate the flow of traffic. Outside of the downtown area I actually saw a traffic light (ignored by everyone) and several pedestrian cross walks (ditto). Traffic circles abound and painted lane lines seem to be more of a suggestion rather than anything accepted by the drivers.
A colleague with whom I have corresponded has a clinic here in Kampala. Arriving here more than three decades ago from the UK with his wife as missionaries they spent years up country before relocating and establishing The Surgery. The staff is international (10+ countries) and the patient population on anyone day represents anywhere from 20-35+ countries. He has a dry wit, common sense and an understanding of human nature.
Example – (from the ISTM professional list) Q: Are there any serious long term consequences to taking Malarone?
A: Yes, it will seriously hurt your pocket book. Otherwise it is far less expensive that dying of malaria upcountry…..
Anyway, I had a fine and interesting time with meeting staff, taking a tour of the place and recovering from a stop at Barclay’s bank where you get to stand in line in order to stand in line.