My favorite word in Kiswahili is “mzungu.”

I have no idea if I spelled that correctly, but just go with me.

“Mzungu” is the Kiswahili word for “white person.”

Now take two seconds to call me a racist for liking this word.

Are you done?


Now, I thought it was hilarious when the children started calling Kenley, Kelly, Rachel, Meredith, and Ariel “mzungu”. I even considered buying my brother-in-law a t-shirt that said “Mzungu” on it as a souvenir. I refrained from doing that because I enjoy being able to see my niece every couple of months and buying him a culturally insensitive t-shirt would probably lead to the total annihilation of that privilege.

See the things Auntie sacrifices for you, Emmalyn.

I would have had jokes for years with that t-shirt.

Considering I am of the brown persuasion, I thought I was exempt from “Mzungu”.

Alas that was not to be.

One day when I was playing with some of the children, a little boy pointed at me and said, “Mzungu.” I looked around for one of the other girls because I really didn’t think he was talking about me. Then Martha, one of my favorites, started laughing and said, “You are a mzungu.”

I said, “No, I’m not.”

She said, “Yes, you are.”

I said, “No, my father looks like you. He has dark skin like you.”

At this Martha and some of the other girls looked at my skin, looked at their own, and then exclaimed, “LIES! Lies! Mzungu! Mzungu!”

Oh Mzungu.