Friday, January 2, 2009


(above pic safari craig 08)

sometimes when i ride out, or visit the mitumba (second hand clothes market) or go for a walk, people shout out "Mzungu! Mzungu!" which translated directly means "White person!" sometimes i don't mind. other times it really annoys me. it's rude. frankly, it could be insulting. there are a million other ways of greeting someone.

anyway. sometimes i answer:

" mimi sio mzungu. mimi ni mtu kama wewe, sindio?"

(i'm not a white. i am a person like you, no?)

nine times out of ten, it's greeted with thumbs up and smiles all round. and should i ever come across it the other way, i would say the same thing. it's to do with belonging. everyone wants to belong. no matter what colour, size, height.

whenever we ride out, we pass villages along the way and are always followed by a dancing excited crowd of children. the children at the bottom of the hill are my favourite. because i sort of know them. there is isaac, who is the only one brave enough to ride his donkey and ali, who is the littlest. whenever i ride past they shout out:

farasi! farasi! farasi! maneno maneno maneno! kitikaa kitikaa kitikaa!

which translated directly means horse! horse! trouble trouble trouble! and then i think kitikaa is a reference to the noise of the horses hooves. someone else said maneno in this case is a reference to a dance - a sexy gyrating of the hips...hmmmm. labda. maybe. and sometimes they call out the horses names. kifaru! kifaru! (rhino! rhino!) my horse is called rhino. he is white. he doesn't get called mzungu. i love it. because they never shout out "mzungu! mzungu!" i feel i belong somehow.

there is a village far across the plains, on the other side of oljoru, the pointy very high hill which we see south east from ngorobob hill. i love to ride out there. to trot for miles and miles across the plains, the mountains out (meru and kili) on a clear day, the wind whipping up the dust, keeping us cool. the sun on my back and my heart on a string above me. passing the lady who always shouts out "Karibu chai!" (welcome for tea!). yesterday as i was slowing down, a little boy, not more than 6, stood on the edge of his village, looking after his fat shiny goats. he shouted out " Mzungu!" so i stopped the horse, and said my line:

me: mimi sio mzungu.

him: wewe ni nini? (then what are you?)

me: mimi ni janelli. (i am janelle)

him: oh. wapi ingine? (oh. where are the others?)

and he made me laugh with delight. maybe he told his friends he met another tribe of mzungu called janelli.

or even better maybe next time i ride by he will shout out " janelli!"

thinking of ditching the kitchen board for 2009. what do you think? not sure...

well, tooooooooooodely old pip then, and bisous, toujours xxx j


Mama Shujaa said...

Janelli! Za leo?

Gosh, I miss home after reading your post, seeing the pictures, and smiling about the mambo mengi za mlimani...

What's in a name? Everything, so ni vizuri sana you told your beautiful name...

I'll have to get back to you on the kitchen board, have not used it yet. :-)

Baadaye basi,

Mama Shujaa

Miranda said...

Ah Janelli, great post. And pics! I dunno. I
like the kitchen board but then I can always just come up and look at it in person so.....

word veri - nosesti!

Lori ann said...

oh, i dont know either. sorry for being no help. But if your ready for change, why not?! is that gabby playing at the water? what a stunning pic, and a very beautiful post. I have an image of you on your horse, your heart in the sky. Gorgeous!
xx lori

word veri: apoodies, hehe!

Val said...

Janelli - lovely lovely post again. Yeah the Muzungu thing.. its also Lakua in Bots....feels rude certainly and annoying. but maybe thats just our perspective and its not meant that way? the other day i was in town and a very smart SUV with black windows was parked outside the shop. the rear window open just an inch. as i walked by a handful of baby black fingers poked out and a voice emerged 'Lakua!' I always think its like stating the obvious too - as if you havent noticed or whatever.
love the image of your ride over the plains... sigh..and the lovely Rhino.....beautiful.
blackboard - I will miss it for sure if you take it away

Dumdad said...

Janelli - bring back the kitchen board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tam said...

keep the board! Keep the board! Word veri is blesses

family affairs said...

The board has to stay - it makes us feel like we're in your kitchen with you Lxx

karen said...

what a wonderful post! absolutely loved every moment...

oh, and personally i do love the kitchen board!! :-)

Janelle said...

mama S..asante sana mama! xxxj

eh mo...glad you liked the was one of those, eh? xxx j

thanks for your story val..yeah. think i'll keep the board...yeah.

DD, Tam, Lulu and Karen...YEAH YEAH! ok. i will i will...thanks for the j

Janelle said...

xxx for val because i missed her out! cor.

Nao said...

What a wonderful blog you have here. I really enjoyed this piece and your images are also beautiful. I will be back!

Reya Mellicker said...

I am a huge fan of the tribe of Janelle. You are all so very blond, gorgeous and fully human.

Belonging - it's a big topic. I belong where I am and yet I do not belong, for different reasons. People here are "polite" though and never say out it out loud.

Happy new year!

Reya Mellicker said...

Also I'm a fan of the kitchen board, though you must do what suits you.

Jeannie said...

Thanks so much for popping by mine, and for the encouragement! I'm definitely going to go for it... I so enjoy all your posts - it's a window into a fascinating world. We're so betwixt and between here in SA; not quite Africa and not quite the West. That may sound odd (I mean, we are, obviously, in Africa) but truly our identity seems to be in flux. There are so many fake American accents around too...!

I like the kitchen board, but can quite see that sometimes you're probably updating the board just for the blog... Perhaps make it an occasional treat??

Mud in the City said...

Lovely pics Janelli! And I love the idea that you and your horse will spawn a fairy story of a tribe of beautiful, blond centaurs! What better legacy to leave a small village.

Board: resounding yes from me!

Janelle said...

nao thanks! same to j

thanks reya...yeah have decided to stick with the old board..maybe change the frame of j

hey jeannie...ouf. can't bear those fake american accents..same here. especially at school...i always say aren;t you zimbabwean? so why do you talk like that? xxx j

thanks mud! well actually yesterday we had a gang of kids trying to hi jack us out there...demanding money and being really horrible...actually it was only one bigger boy but he had a gang of younger ones he was influencing..should go see the balosi but ouf! time time time..maybe we won't use that route j

Ernest de Cugnac said...

I see the vote goes in favour of the board, and it was very "you". But if you feel like a change, go with it. I'm sure it will be something good.

Janelle said...

why m. de cugnac! it's been a while. how lovely to hear from you! well. i have decided that i am rather attached to the old kitchen board so onwards we go! thanks for popping by! xxx janelle

eet kreef said...

Years ago in the far western parts of Tz the kids used to run away screaming when I cam into town, also shouting the ubiquitous "mzungu mzungu!" Turns out the mothers all tell the kids that the white man will come to eat them if they're naughty... took a loooong time before the kids would come out and talk