I am a liability. No question about it. For many of my friends, family and colleagues in Kenya and other countries in Africa I make things a lot more expensive. I don’t want to do that, but it just happens and I can’t seem to do anything about it.
Today I have been hidden behind a pillar at the entrance of hotel Waterbuck in Nakuru. My Kenyan colleague is looking for a taxi. “It should be cheap as it is not far but with you it will be ten dollars instead on one”, she remarked while shooing me out of sight.
It’s not my personality, it’s not the way I dress, it’s my white skin. It drives any price through the roof. White skins equal wealth. That belief is rock solid despite we have become a global village due to internet and other communication and information tools.
But I must admit it is rewarding to be called to a waiting taxi and seeing the surprised and then disappointing face of a driver. If he only would have known. He sees imaginary money go up in smoke.
Driving back from Nakuru to Nairobi my colleagues stop at some roadside market to buys vegetables, potatoes and fruits from the local farmers. Cheaper than in the capital. They tell me to stay in the car, hide behind the tainted windows. But they are nice enough to take my shopping order although it’s no fun to be left in a car, in the glaring sun with all the windows closed.
Even my Nigerian husband sends me away to drink coffee somewhere out of sight when we go to the market. I tell him what we need and he buys. He sees no reason to pay more for our groceries or presents because of my skin color.
We go to great length sometimes. He and I pretend not to know each other. I walk around, note in my head what I want and then get out of sight and direct him via mobile phone to where I saw something that I want. I give him the price I managed to bargain for. He aims at half of that.
My skin in Africa hurts just my wallet although it is painful. Having a black skin in the Western world might not hurt financially but can cause grave physical and emotional pain. I am sure despite being a liability, I am a luckier one.