Muzungu prices

By March 30th, 2014

Family & Friends,

How do you look for a house in Kigali.  There is no list – where is Craig when you need him?  Brokers go door to door to look for houses for rent and try to sell the information.  My advocate was Francis.  This is crucial since there are two prices for everything: Regular and Muzungu.  And I am a Muzungu.  Soon four Africans were in my car and three of them were brokers.  We would all look at a house.  Then Francis would negotiate in Kinyarwanda.  I listened hard and could only pick up three words.  “Umusaza” which is old guy, as in, this old guy won’t have wild parties.  “Amafaranga” which is money or the price, and “Muzungu” which loosely translated means white guy with money falling out of his pockets.  They would bargain louder and louder punctuated with gentle “Hmmmm”s.  Which I think meant, “I’m listening, but you are wrong and the price must go up/down.  When I tested hot water and water pressure in a house, the response was “Everything will be working, but it is turned off now.”  As a Muzungu, I believed every word they said.  And even if it was not true, I have money falling out of my pockets to fix it.  I’ve looked at ten houses ranging from “I’d rather live in a tent” to “Nicer than Aslan’s How.”  The search goes on.

G

gfriesen@multnomah.edu

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