Mzungus Can’t Jump

You know how when you learn a word, it suddenly starts popping up everywhere? Well, it’s funny- I never thought much about microfinance til Julie reccomended Kiva, and now I just ran into this Nicholas Kristof NYTimes blog entry on it. (I freaking love Nicholas Kristof….) He asked his readers if they had any thoughts on if microfinance worked in Africa as well as in Asia and South America. (One of the reasons I love him: he asks readers for more info….)  The article and the follow-up from readers are here.

There were some interesting responses.  It’s weird, too, because when I looked at the people applying  for loans at Kiva, there weren’t many African countries involved. Now I learn there are reasons why. I have no clue what they are, but apparently, there are some.

I also found this  link in one of the replies to the blog piece. It’s to a Catholic Relief Services story about microfinance in action- in Africa actually. Can’t get enough of these success stories…Im going to try to lure Julie into writing up her experience so I can post it here.

And I also learned a new word: mzungus — I don’t know if it’s Swahilli or what, but, it , and its other derivations in various Bantu dialects, mean  “white people”.  Looking it up, I found this funny blog entry  by some white girls in Kenya from 2006. I don’t know who they are, but it sounded like how I’d be over there!  And, just to full-circle it, because that’s what I do – Nicholas Kristof’s latest article was on travel tips for people going to developing countries and how we  – and he especially meant college students but it applies to all of us- would do well to get out there and see the world and not just the touristy places.  The tips are both funny and enlightening-  like pick a scrawny cab driver and carry a fake wallet. Though I suppose some of these are also good tips if youre traveling in NYC. (That jibe dedicated to KML and family.) And, actually, if you don’t think machetes can be an issue in America, ask my brother about a guy who came into his office a few months ago. “There were a variety of charges.” – Christopher Walken, SNL

On that note, I will leave you with this tidbit – and dont yell it out if you already know the answer- but I am going to a foreign country in two weeks. Can you guess where it is?

And now here is it, your moment of twin:

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One thought on “Mzungus Can’t Jump

  1. LOL.. Haven’t had a chance to check out the links yet but mzungu is a word I know quite well, having been called it in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia so far. In Ethiopia, the common local equivalent was “ferengi.”

    This month, they were actually selling “My name is not mzungu” and similar t-shirts in Kampala and Jinja (both Uganda) marketplaces, although I imagine other East African cities have it too, ironically quite a popular item among mzungus.

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