Sticks and Stones may break my bones
but words can be exhausting!
|Like a stick bridge over stinky water!|
And by “us” I mean foreign people who are obviously not native to Ethiopia, i.e. white folks and Asian folks. Now, I have to clarify that even African-Americans are also called some strange names here, but I would imagine far less often, because most local people would automatically assume they are habisha. While habisha have seen, via western media, that there are indeed non-white Americans for some reason they have a hard time believing it “in real life” even when they are face to face with one, like my pal Audley for example. He has a whole other set of problems because of it. I’ll get into that subject another time. My focus here is to inform you of the things I have been called, and am still being called on a daily, or more like a minute by minute, basis. I’ve done my best to list them in order of how frequently I hear them.
1. Ferenji (or variations such as Ferenj, Ferenjo, Ferenjio)
I learned something recently about the word “Ferenji”. So, it turns out, and it’s quite obvious now, it originally came from the word “French”. Just in case you don’t know, the French had an interest in taking root in Ethiopia some time ago. Under the influence of local accent, “French” became “Ferenj”, which then came to define any foreign person, even as the Italians tried to move into the country.
“China” is well on it’s way to the same sort of fate as “Ferenj”. China has fairly solid relationship with Ethiopia right now. Someone recently admitted to me that they believe China has ulterior motives for befriending Ethiopia. Again, lets save the conspiracy stuff for later.
Anyway, Chinese workers are sent here in droves to work on infrastructure. Now, in my opinion they should be using local folks for labor, as unemployment is outrageous here, but that’s my opinion. At any rate, Chinese workers have made their way through town after town. A lot of local people don’t care much for the Chinese because, and this is according to locals (NOT ME), they have “bad behavior.” To give you an idea of what sort of bad behavior, I have been told that while the Chinese road workers are in town the bars get lots of business and there are several children in a certain district that look quite closely related to our Asian brothers and sisters……but I’m not making judgments. Please keep in mind that I have no first-hand experience, and I’m sure there are far more Chinese folks doing good things here than there are doing not-so-good things.
To make a long story longer, many folks, from less educated areas, fail to make the connection between the fact that they are Chinese and the fact that they are called “China” because they are from China. So, for most people, “China” is just another word for “Ferenj”. On the other hand, some people might call me “China” thinking that I actually am Chinese, because I’ve had a few kids come up to me and start making sounds like they’re speaking Chinese. For these few children and/or adults, every foreign person must be Chinese.
3. Nech (white)
4. Kayu (red)
White people have two colors, white, and red. I admit that when I first heard this I was dumbfounded. But, if you think about it, it’s true. I’ve seen myself after I’ve been in the sun for too long or I’m blushing. My complexion tends to stay on the pink side anyway.
7. Hey guys
10. Wushia (pretty girl)
11. Hey baby
12. Sexy sexy (cringe….I blame western media)
13. England (or occasionally “English”)