Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things to be Scared Of

When I lived in Senegambia, I was told that it was very off to eat in public. When I questioned why, I was told it was because witches can put spells on you if they see you ingesting food or water – the spells can enter your body with the nutrients. I believed it – not in the witches, per say, but in the beautiful need to respect the cultural norms of your neighbors.

When I lived in Uganda, I asked if I could eat in public or if I had to be wary of witches. I was sort of stared at about the witches and was told that of course I shouldn’t eat in public because not everyone had food. Just as you wouldn’t show off your long thick luxurious hair to a person undergoing severe chemo, you shouldn’t eat in front of someone who can’t afford enough to sustain himself.

Here, I don’t need to ask. I know that I shouldn’t carry my coffee mug the two blocks from home to the office and sip at it intermittently along the way. It’s not kind.

But I wish I were still blind enough to think it is because of witches.