Cairo.....my soul is content here.
It's absolutely ridiculous to speak about colour blindness...we all know this by now. One of the things I notice about Cario and Giza is the lack of black people & wonder what this will translate to.....for my experience. I know that most times focus on the colour of my skin can perpetuate ingroup, outgroup BS..... but more on this soon.
Three significant things happened today. Granted that tourist attractions tend not to represent the reality of everyday life for people.... I get that. But these 3 things meant something to me:
One: I love that a lot of the locals I had the opportunity to interact with, when I introduced myself to them, not once did I hear comments like;
"Oh that's really difficult!", "Do you have a nickname?", "What should I call you?".
Every single person I met here, not once did they treat my name (Nkgopoleng) as an exotic prize to be claimed with self congratulation should one succeed to pronounce. It's messed up that having my name be treated with normalcy was an event for me but I guess it makes sense when you come from a context where you constantly have to apologize, qualify or sacrifice on your given name. When I told one of the guys that this is the first time I've travelled somewhere & have people call me who I am without turning it into a phonetic game, he looked at me and replied "that's crazy, it's a very easy name" .....my heart melted.
Two; I had a couple of weird comments around my skin colour & looks..... weird in a somewhat wonderful way. Example; one of the Arab vendors shouted at me "my colour" as he leaped towards me to make conversation & try to sell me a camel ride. It does something to your psyche....when something that has for so long been used as a thorn suddenly becomes an identifier or marker for similarities & inclusion. It's impossible to exoticise someone if you consider them of your own kind.
Not that you should ever seek external validation to justify your existence & what you are but I felt a little bit closer to the place when I felt this sense of inclusion....I felt a sense of welcome. Plus I think the irony of being called "my queen" in Egypt would almost be too great to endure with a straight face so I'll accept "my colour" any day.
Three; I had a few conversation with some locals in an attempt to get a peak into whether & how they identify as Africans. The common narrative I had been fed before coming here is that Egyptians don't really consider themselves African but rather Middle Eastern.....this is what most would have you believe. But based on my experience so far...from people I met at the grocery store, the hotel & vendors in Cairo a lot of them proudly identified as African. Despite Cairo being quite different to cities and towns I've visited in the rest of Africa, I found some subtle nuances that reminded me that this is Africa after-all. Kiosk offering snacks, chocolates & sweets on most street corners, the use of taxis/combis/tro tros to get around, your typical food markets with orange sacks hanging from the wall, beautiful & colorful print fabric, intricate and often chunky beaded jewelry. All of these sound small & insignificant but when you put some context to them, they make complete & total sense.