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Re: It’s Ms. Mzungu, thank you!

June 16, 2011

Cam I think you are making a very good point. We would love to rid the world of stereotyping and hopefully the heston interns’ experiences will have be a part of that gradual reduction of separateness and stereotypes. As much as I don’t like the term “This is Africa,” what’s cool is the more time I spend here the more I see other sides to that claim. Yesterday my host mother’s business partner, a veterinary doctor decided he wanted to help me go around to the hardware stores in Masaka to find my water-tank harvesting materials. He only did this favor because he was worried I wouldn’t be able to hold the materials and carry them up the hill. He also wanted to make sure I knew where all the shops were. I was so grateful because trying to find and shop here is so difficult because signs are not easy to read and the streets wind all around. Not to mention that in front of the shops are tons of small market stands. Anyway, my point is he said, “This is Uganda. Even if we are doing work, we like to stop and help those who really need it.” I know this is another stereotype and it made me laugh after all the stereotype talk, but it’s also just an example of Ugandan kindness. I had a similar situation the other day when I was trying to catch a taxi. A boda boda guy wanted to take me, and I told him I was going to far. So he hailed over a taxi for me, and told the guy to give me a fair price. I was strangely surprised since most of the time any boda boda driver just wants your money, or nothing to do with you. When I came back from work I saw him again and he said he was glad I had a safe journey.
So my point is, yes it is unfortunate that we have these stereotypes, and Cam is right, they are both positive and negative. But maybe the positive stereotype helps sort of uphold the sweet manners and kindliness of Ugandan people. The image that Ugandans help each other out even if it really takes up their time. So stereotypes can be both a detriment but also a helpful tool.

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