Monday, December 15, 2014

They're Not Azungu--George's Post

The Chichewa word for "white person" is "mzungu" and for "white people" is "azungu." We have been told that the phrases are not derogatory. But a recent event has brought this into question. Late Saturday afternoon, after visiting several members in Soche, Carole and I were threading our way through the jumble of homes high in the hillsides. It's hard to get one's bearings on the mountain, and we were a bit lost. Nothing to be concerned about, knowing we would find our way back to the truck by simply heading downhill. As usual, we attracted the attention of groups of young kids. Soon they were chanting, with great gusto, "azungu" as we passed by. We smiled and waved. Suddenly from another home, across the way, a slightly older boy yelled with great defiance, scolding them. "They are not "azungu," they are people, just like you and me." Perhaps we have been naïve. But I am sure we will continue to respond to their chants with a smile and thumbs up.