Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1979
A father and daughter drive up to a bakery
There is a long line of light skinned people
Who look like them
Waiting for bread.
They get out of the car
Walk past the line of people
Straight to the till
And ask for bread.
They people in the line start to murmur.
The lady at the counter speaks to them abruptly in Amharic.
The father takes out his red id document.
Foreigners it says.
‘Baria.’ – ‘Slave’ we hear someone in the line say
They get their bread and walk away
Relieved ut unable to look them in the eyes
‘Sisi, are you Nigerian?’
Here this means Pimp Drug dealer Hustler
Corrupt Makwerekwere – or does it?
‘No, I come from Uganda.’
Oshakati, Namibia, 1990
A young woman is standing in line
At the Motor Car licensing office
To apply for a drivers license
He insists on filling in the forms
Asking questions in his stumbling’ English
‘Where you born?’
He looks puzzled.
She spells it, and he writes it all down
She reads it upside down
‘Place of Birth - Town: Kampala, District: Uganda,
‘Excuse me,’ she says
‘Kampala is both the city and the district,
Uganda is the country. It is not part of Namibia.’
He looks at her very puzzled.
‘No,’ She says. ‘Uganda. Near Tanzania.’
He puts his pen down and shakes his head
In utter confusion.
‘Difficult case,’ he says.
‘Go to Ondangwa.’
And moves on to the next person in the line.
‘It is near Tanzania and DRC’ I say.
namutebi - september 2010