Mzungu is the term for white man, here in Tanzania. Much like Gora Saab in Pakistan and Ang Mo in Singapore.
The first time I noticed a correlation between Mzungus and airconditioning was when I went to a souvenir shirt boutique at the posh oyster bay shopping center. I had been in the shop for quite a while, deciding which size would fit my 2 year old better, when two mzungu women entered. As soon as they did, the salesgirl switched on the airconditioner, as if on cue. I found this strange at the time. But when I came home and thought about it, I could come up with several reasons for her switching on the airconditioning.
One could be that the shop was really tiny and when two more customers entered she used her better judgement to help make the place less cloggy.
Another could be that she felt Mzungus originated from cooler climates and would feel the heat more than me, the non mzungu, who probably originated from an oven.
The second one seemed more plausible but I decided to not dwell too much on it. Until today.
This morning Mr A declared a state of emergency when he called me at 9am saying he was at the office but had forgotten his office keys at home. So I changed, dressed baby up, cancelled my coffee date, harassed King Julian with repeated phone calls till he finally reached at 10am, got dropped to school with the baby, instructed King Julian to be as swift as the wind and get back to us before 1230, which is hometime. I decided to get off at school so in case King Julian gets late I will be there with baby and he won’t feel deserted. Believe me, being the last one to be picked up from school sucks big time.
I pick and drop baby to preschool everyday and on some mornings when I roll straight out of bed and end up at the school, I usually fix myself some coffee from the school kitchen before heading out for my ‘me time’ (which usually involves grocery shopping because it’s Dar and that’s the best kind of shopping one can do).
So today when I entered the school kitchen which also doubles as the parents room, I felt a gush of cold air. For a room that never even has the fan of that was a first. I’m usually the one switching on the fan, even when there are a bunch of dadas (Swahili for sister, used to refer most commonly to the house help/nannies) sitting there already. I looked up to see the airconditioner on and then I looked down to see a mzungu man plonked on the sofa. Really?
So as much as I’d like to give Tanzania the benefit of doubt, I think it’s time to admit that they are no different than us, the rest of the colonized world. We have one trait in common, the colonized mind. And in that lies the ultimate success of our mzungu masters. Bravo, Gora Saab.