Monday, August 6, 2012
The sun sets. As time passes, you feel very hungry, but the few drinks you’ve had ease your hunger pains and numb your stomach. In fact, your entire body feels numb and you feel a bit lightheaded.
The bar fills with people that are drinking alcohol and dancing to the fantastic music. Nat has joined the dancers in an open area in the center of the bar.
Stranger: Is that your friend?
You turn and look at the man standing near your table.
Stranger: How do you know her?
Self: We are Peace Corps Volunteers.
Stranger: …Oh really?...she’s beautiful.
He walks around behind you and sits beside you at the table.
Stranger: Where are you from?
Stranger: She’s From America?
Stranger: And where are you from?
Self: I am also from America.
Stranger: Even you? You’re from America?
Stranger: Why are you here... in Botswana?
The Force: Remember your training.
Self: We are Peace Corps Volunteers. We are here to help combat the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country and to promote a better understanding between Americans and the countries in which we serve.
Stranger: I see…
Nat dances her way over to the table.
Nat: Who’s your friend?
Stranger: My name is Cuecue.
Cuecue extends his hand and Nat shakes it. Cuecue lets his hand linger and holds onto Nat’s hand for a few seconds longer. As she makes eye contact she smiles, winks and withdraws her hand.
Stranger: It’s nice to meet you.
Nat: It’s nice to meet you two.
Nat turns toward you. She smiles, winks and touches you on the shoulder with her fist.
Nat: I’m gonna go have some fun. You two should do the same.
She smiles at you again and walks toward the bar to buy another drink.
Cuecue: You are too arrogant. You are certainly going to have problems with safety here.
The Force: Something strange is happening.
Self: What do you mean? Where did this come from?
Cuecue: I don’t like you here. Westerners ruin Africa. You are only concerned for Africa when you want something. You come and take our diamonds or you want to have some image of being kind to boost your own ego and self-righteousness.
Cuecue: For example, your friend there, she will likely be sexually assaulted. Men here pray that they get a chance to sleep with a white woman like her. She is behaving so wildly. I can tell that she is arrogant by the way she behaves… and then there’s you. You are in a foreign land and you are not one of us no matter who gave you a Setswana name.
The Force: Something has changed in this interaction. He seems quite hostile now talking about ego and Self-Righteous Americans. Stay calm and remember your training. See what this person is trying to say to you.
A fight breaks out in the bar. A man, on the far side of the bar, begins to scream at and punch a woman near the front gate. Everyone watches, but no one intervenes. The woman falls to the ground due to the punches and submits. He stands over her yelling before he grabs her by the arm, dragging her to a table near the bar. She sits, holding her face, as he continues to speak to her firmly.
Cuecue: Arrogant. You’re not even listening to me. It seems that my understanding of Americans is good.
Self: We are here to help Botswana. We were invited by your President to help. Your accusations may apply to some people, but not to us. Your accusations are very general. What have I done to cause you to be so hostile towards me and my friend?
Cuecue: Your arrogance is even evident in your words. I am an old man and a true Motswana. I don’t have to explain myself to you. This is my land. Not yours. You owe all the explanations to me. You think that you are right, that you have the correct answers and view of the world. You think that if we talk for long enough that I’ll change my point of view. Your arrogance suggests that I don’t already know what you’re saying, that I haven’t been educated and that I don’t work towards helping my country and that all we need is more Americans. You think that will solve everything.
Cuecue stands as if to leave, then continues.
There have been thousands of people across hundreds of years. Some from the west, but many Batswana. You think that you’ll solve everything, that only you have the right answers, that you have the authority to judge. I’ll tell you that if you continue to think like that, you will most certainly be abused. Perhaps even tonight…
He walks away, and begins dancing with Nat.
You feel very hungry and lightheaded.
What do you do?