Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kawaja! Kawaja!

‘Kawaja’ is the Arab word for someone from Europe, and anywhere I go around town that is the greeting that I usually get. It doesn’t matter where the white person comes from, we are all Kawajas. Sometime small children see me around town and run off screaming, not a usual reaction for me most places that I go in the rest of the world… Stopping the car and I can be surrounded by a group of interested children (and adults sometimes.)

As one of my Sudanese colleagues told me, I’m like a tourist attraction and should start charging for a Kawaja sighting. I think it’s especially so because I’m a Kawaja female and have blond hair and blue eyes- there aren’t too many of us that have made it around these parts. Especially not Kawaja’s that do things that women around these parts don’t do like going jogging, driving, going to meetings with men, etc... I’m sure that once I learn to ride the motorcycle around town (sorry mom- but it’s the only way to get around…), it will be even more of a oddity. Yesterday when I was driving around town a small boy asked my colleague if the car was a car for Kawaja’s? I was about to give him a ride in the car to show him that the car wasn’t only for Kawaja’s but as my usual reaction with Sudanese children is for them to run screaming I thought he might be a little afraid.

However even as a Kawaja the local people are so accepting and welcoming. Sudanese are known for their hospitality. I have even been given a real Toposa name. (Toposa people are given their second name based on the place that they were born.) My second name is now Nakai which means one born in the house. I wanted to say that I was actually born in a hospital and not a house, but I’m sure that ‘one born in a hospital’ does not exist as a name yet due to the lack of hospitals.


Aaron in South Sudan said...

I've found that saying back to them "Sudanni Sudanni!" works pretty well to break the ice. :)

Nakai said...

I'll try that next time. :) Why is it okay to call someone a white person in Africa but anywhere else in the world that would be so politically incorrect?