When you are lucky, as I am, to go visit - in the span of a month and a half - the Great Lakes, you turn in circles. And I am white of course. So I guess the term Mzungu is a good description of me... I will 'turn in circles'. From Kampala to Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi, with field visits in each of the countries.
Mzungu (ə)mˈzʊnɡʊ/ - Swahili noun used to denote a white-skinned foreigner, literally meaning the wanderer, he who turns in circles (plural: wazungu)
I am forewarned - and although it is not the first time I will wander in strange lands where I am different - that the way we 'behave' is as defining of our difference as our skin color, if not more so.
Although I look out most for the field visits, I will spend time in Kigali, or Kampala, in Lilongwe or Bujumbura. Often with urbanites with an impeccable sense of dress (one we can never pull off though) and some of the pointers I found in an article in 'The New Times' - a Rwandan paper - made me both smile and apprehensive; self-conscious even as I am typing this in a hip Tunisian 'Cafe' with my expresso - dressed down in jeans, a faded polo and of course... flip-flops (leather ones though). I quote, from the article (while comparing myself to the others here. I am not alone.
... with a cup of coffee on the side, they type away at their branded laptops ...their Mzungu-ness is often exhibited by their ability to tell the different coffee flavours apart.
Apparently, we come in many flavours of white. I hesitated to link to Fifty shades of Mzungu because not all of them are relevant - but then again .. cringing right now, reading this, afraid to be like all these others and yet who fears it might be inevitable (Shade 10).
I cannot promise not to type away on my laptop - it's what I do - but I promise to leave the flip-flops at home! And the multi-pocketed pants, those have been given away a long time ago by my Ivorian partner. She only calls me 'toubab' or 'mon blanc' when she's angry with me or bragging to her girlfriends ...
I will keep you posted! Promise. Probably from a swanky coffeeshop or a hip bar (never a hipster-bar though - that is truly a bridge too far!)