Friday, February 18, 2011

Walking in silence...

I've spent quite some time walking this past week. I love it. I love being able to walk around, on my own, without people hissing at me or calling 'white man'. I love being able to walk alone when it's dark outside. I love not being asked for my phone number, at all. I love walking around without inhaling a cloud of harmattan dust. I love walking down the street without having to keep clear of stray dogs. I love walking along without cars/taxis honking their horns every thirty seconds. I love being able to cross the street without fearing for my life. I love walking on sidewalks and not worrying much about getting hit. I love walking on green grass. I love walking past ponds and streams. I love walking without sweating.

Honestly, for the last few days I have loved walking in silence. Walking without anyone talking to me. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like people talking to me, it's just that in Sierra Leone it is pretty full on. In Holland you get the occasional 'How are you?' but in Sierra Leone almost everyone talks to you, or at you and will say any or all of the following phrases:
'How are you?'
'Give me money.'
'I want you to be my friend?'
'Do you have a man?'
'I love you.'
'Where do you live?'
'Can I walk with you?'
'Do you have a phone number?'
'Give me your number.'
'I want to get to know you.'
And the list goes on.

The week before my holiday I was getting very annoyed with every other person who was calling out to me, to the point that I decided to ignore everyone on my street one day, which of course, did not make me any happier. Don't get me wrong, it's great that people are friendly, but really, all of the comments get a little old. And surely, with so many expats in Freetown, you would think people would stop with the 'white man' jargon. Apparently not. Sometimes I wish I would blend in but somehow I don't think that will happen. And honestly, it's a scary thought knowing that I'll always be a foreigner in a place that feels like home.

I guess the tough part is finding a balance in my reactions. The hardest is to choose to engage in a conversation with a guy and attempt to be friendly yet at the same time hope he doesn't get any ideas. Really, I'm being polite, not trying to show interest! I suppose for now I will enjoy my walks in silence while I can and when I return to Freetown I will brace myself for 'street talk'. I will enjoy it when the children call out and chat and try not to get too frustrated when yet another guy asks for my phone number. And maybe I just need to tell everyone on my street my name. I feel it'd be nicer to hear them calling out 'Sandra' or 'Saffiatu' rather than 'white man' or 'white woman' or 'white girl'. We'll see.

No comments:

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~