Missing My Invisibility Cloak

1 Jun

“Mzungu! Mzungu! How ah you?!” That’s the cry that follows me everywhere, as if I were a celebrity … or something not quite human.

In Canada, and even in Europe, it’s always been so easy for me to vanish when I feel the need to be alone. My “Invisibility Cloak” is a subtle behavioural defense against unwanted attention; with glazed eyes, slightly stooped shoulders, walking slowly and not making eye contact, people who see me lose interest immediately. In this mode salespeople leave me alone, awkward acquaintances don’t notice me, and sometimes even friends pass by without a second glance. When you look similar to most of the people around you, it’s easy to make yourself appear unremarkable.

Unfortunately for me, in Uganda I can’t avoid attention because there’s no way to hide my glowing white skin. I will always stand out as a Mzungu. My skin colour marks me as a foreigner, and comes with complicated privileges and stereotypes. I hope to challenge some of those in time, but right now I just wish that I could blend in.

3 Responses to “Missing My Invisibility Cloak”

  1. Marilyn James June 2, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    When I was in the Phillipines, I found privacy in a cemetary!

  2. Andi June 2, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    I completely understand this! It’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve had so far in Zambia. I just want to be able to do my groceries without being noticed.

  3. rchatwindavies June 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks for the blog post Julia. Hopefully you’re enjoying the chance of exploring being the centre of attention, without too much frustration (I remember both sides of that).
    Keep up the great blog!
    Take care,

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