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Have you ever passed by a white person on the street and didn’t know how to respond? Did you feel awkward? Did you try to avoid the whole situation?

You might have been in Africa.

If you are a mzungu/muzungu, here are your options for interacting with other wazungu.

1. Avoid. Avoid their eyes. Go out of your way to avoid their path. Pretend that you don’t see them, even though it’s obvious that you have. Avoid at all costs.

2. Catch their gaze. You may look at them briefly, and they may look back. But then you will both look in another direction and pass right on by as if you never acknowledged each other’s existence.

3. Scowl. What is this white person doing here? You are supposed to be the only white person here. They should get off your turf.

4. Look of disgust. These white people are probably here on a fancy, all expenses paid safari. They know nothing about the local culture. They are the kind of tourists that cause prices to skyrocket, forcing you to always bargain them back down to what they should be.

5. Say hello. You’re an outgoing person and you obviously saw them, so why not greet them? In the local language, of course.

6. Say hello. In English. Weird.

7. Start a conversation. But only if you happen to know the person. Which, given that the wazungu community can be small, is much more likely to happen than you may expect.

8. Hug them. Greet them as if they are a long lost friend, or the first white person you’ve seen in years and you’re craving their company. And enjoy watching their reaction.

(Photo: White person, 2007.)

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