Mzunguland

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Where do I live in Mayotte? Mzunguland. A mzungu is a white person (a fuller but somewhat confusing explanation is here), therefore rich, therefore fair game for the illegal immigrants who make the crossing from Comoros. They really love the high-tech stuff mzungus have so much of. A typical conversation between mzungus runs:

‘They were there on the terrace, having dinner – didn’t hear a thing. And when they went in, everything gone. Empty.’

‘Even with bars on the windows?’

‘Some of these kids are so tiny they just squeeze through. They hide in the trees outside till you switch off the light.’

‘Frankly, it can ruin your whole stay.’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s just a matter of keeping an eye out. And who can blame them, honestly? Put yourself in their shoes. Though that’s difficult, I know – they haven’t got any! Ha, ha!’

‘Three times it’s happened to me. Three!’

‘Unless you live in some block of flats surrounded by guards. Who’d want that?’

‘The guards can’t be trusted anyway. There was one who was letting them in and taking a cut and of course it turned out he was illegal himself. So they sent him back to Comoros and you know what? He turned up a couple of weeks later asking for his job back!’

Actually, that’s an excerpt from my current work in progress, Perfume Island (i.e. Mayotte), but it’s more a less a transcription of what I’ve actually heard. Fortunately, Mzunguland isn’t (yet) a gated community, and nor is our particular flat wrapped up in barbed wire, but a walk in the neighbourhood suggests that most mzungus live in a permanent state of paranoia. As for me, I just do regular back ups of my work. And touch wood.

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