We set out this morning under partly cloudy skies that would soon end up being our hottest day walking yet. The temperature reached 39 degrees with very high humidity resulting in a very hot and tired group of walkers once we reached camp 20 km later. Many interesting wadudu (insects) kept us entertained, as well as frogs and land crabs along the way. But of course, people continued to come out to see the Muzungu.
We had stayed the night before in an area that was very unaccustomed to seeing muzungus. We have talked about muzungus before and the local response that we receive. The word Muzungu, while it refers to white people now, is really a word derived from a verb meaning “running around in circles”, which is how the busy and somewhat chaotic lives of white people seem to appear to some locals. Hence when we walk, we often hear the ongoing murmur “muzungu muzungu!”.
Last night, however, was a little bit different. Kathy and Bev were relaxing in camp while the Allan’s, Rory and Jenny were cooling off in the river. A man appeared in camp with three children. He introduced himself and apologized for the intrusion. He then told us that his children had never seen a white person, and he wanted them to see one. At that point, three little faces emerged, wide-eyed and looking somewhat afraid. The youngest boy was deaf, and the eldest girl wore an extra Shuka wrapped around her neck. We greeted each one of them, but their frightened looks continued, so we then started asking them their names in Kiswahili. The father then advised that his daughter had a skin problem on her neck. She dropped the shuka to reveal what looked to be psoriasis and she was very self-conscious about it. Kathy (a pharmacist by trade) then offered some advice on helping her to make it a bit better. The father at first seemed in disbelief that we would know what it was but then relayed the information to her, and she immediately brightened up with a huge smile and left her shuka off for the rest of our conversation. The other kids sensed her happiness, and they too suddenly looked less frightened. The father thanked us, and they left with lots of giggles. What a great feeling to see those children warm up to us and for the daughter to lose her embarrassment about her affliction, a condition that can impact someone regardless of their skin colour. We hope she will try the advice Kathy gave her.