Stories Travel
The Island Pt. 1 – On Whiteness and Rightness
May 16, 2017
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Photo cred: Kiptoo Koimett

I’m on an island off the coast of my continent. It is an island where they speak my language in sing song intonations. I’m taking a break from life, but working at the same time. I’m volunteering at friends’ coffee shop in the center of the Stone town on the island, where all the history lies. Sometimes I babysit the owners’ of the coffee shop’s daughter and we walk round the city, learning the history. My feet start aching but it is worth it. Heaven knows it is worth it. That, however is not today’s story. 

Today’s story starts at the coffee shop where I meet all kinds of people. Especially expats, expats love to find hidden cafés in exotic places and make it their spot. So sometimes I sit and listen, other times I am involved in the conversation. There is this one really tall pinkish shaded young man who just exudes the American foreigness. When he hears I’m from Kenya he tells me how he loves Nairobi. – for some reason all the expats I meet tell me how they love my city. It surprises me each time-

So back to the man, the man tells me about how he’s been to Mombasa. I guess comparing it with the island. Then somehow, God only knows how, we start talking about the tons of girls who you see walking with old white men all over the Coast. I tell him how it breaks my heart each time. He tells me how he doesn’t have a problem with it if they are two consenting adults. I become cautious with this conversation – because, 
 guard your heart-. He goes on to say how they have approached him before. How sometimes it’s not even about the white money, the women say they want caramel babies. He patronizingly talks about how he’s not into that as if it’s such a glorified thing deserving of applause.  

Something comes over me and I  become like a protective mama bear for these women. No. I want to scream. Don’t you understand they don’t understand their  own value? They are not two consenting adults when one believes by being with the other their worth is raised a notch higher! It is power play. It is glorified slavery. How dare you, with pride in your voice,  talk about how these women’s worshiping you because of the colour of your skin is okay? As if you are still better than them? They deserve better. They deserve to know that they are better. 

I held my tongue from whipping lash on a potential regular customer because the café is not mine. I spoke curtly and politely because isn’t that what we have been trained to do? But we do know that if I do see him at the coffee shop again that will suddenly be babysitting hour… 

Tell me your thoughts? Was I wrong to be angry? To be protective of the women who share my African blood and dark skin? How do you deal with practical prejudice? 

Regards from the Island, many more stories to tell… 

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About author

Shingai

Going on twenty something Black Girl with chubby cheeks,fat lips, big hips, and a really kinky twa (Teeny-weeny-afro) Believer People Watcher Storyteller Favorite color blue, boo!

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  • Wandia Njoya

    Of course you have to be angry. But it’s good you didn’t say anything. You were not in the appropriate space. I hope next time you will be.

    • Dr. Wandia thank you for reading and sharing this validation. Yes, I want to learn in future how to be justifiably angry in the right spaces.

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