Mzungu, or “The J. Lo Effect”

Mzungu (the plural is wazungu) is the Swahili word for white person. The repetition of mzungu and wazungu has become the soundtrack to our walks around Tanzania. In general, it is not meant to be a compliment. It stands in for ‘ignorant foreigner’ –specifically a white person. Ana jokes with us that whenever someone gives her a hard time (calls out mazungu thinking that she will not understand) she says to him, “where is the mazungu? I am not a mazungu.” In Dar es Salaam, during our first days over here, I felt the insult that was intended by the word. Here in Korogwe, I do not feel it as much…

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