A pretty heavy title I know – but worth some pondering…
We have lived in Uganda now for eight months. This is certainly not a multicultural society. School and church would be classed as a monoculture (and possibly drawing people from one tribe within that culture); with both Dan and I being the exception. Each day we are greeted with the term ‘mono’, local term for ‘white person’ or ‘muzungu’ (foreigner); certainly not in a derogatory way, it is merely a greeting and quite a friendly greeting from children: ‘Mono bye’ or ‘Mono how are you?’ I often answer back ‘fine Acholi (tribal name) how are you?’ Again, perfectly acceptable reply, and sometimes gets a giggle.
Chatting with our security guard last night, he tells us that his wife is ‘black’, ‘black as my shoes’, while he is ‘brown’ (honestly we struggle to tell the difference, but locals describe each other’s appearance by different degrees of brown and black in a matter-of-fact way). He goes on to tell us that his children are ‘half casts’ and is adamant that that is a better description for them rather than black or brown.
When did terms like ‘half cast’, ‘black’, ‘brown’, ‘coloured’ and even ‘white’ become discriminatory and racist in the west? They certainly aren’t in this neck of the woods and it is refreshing to talk with people who just say things for how they are (stating the colour of one’s skin) as a descriptive phrase and never meaning anything negative behind it. No offence has ever been meant or taken here and I am enjoying living in a location that isn’t so politically correct (whatever that means). We now speak like the locals do and fear when we return to the ‘west’ we will offend many people (if not already by writing this).
From the monos
Hi Jody & Daniel,
A very thought provoking blog indeed, very well done in writing it in terms of the facts and leaving me with some food for thought. Both Glenn & I are glad that things continue to go well and that you are settling into the community well – such a brave adventure. Keep up the great blogs!
Lisa & Glenn
Hey Jodes! Food for thought indeed.
I have a mixed race friend (or of dual nationality!!!), who many years ago described herself as half-caste once, when we were having a conversation. That was accepted as the norm back in the 80s and 90s.