Note: The following story has been translated from my Greek book ‘From Cape Town to Alexandria’ narrating an overland trip from side to side of the African Continent.
Another nice chap I came to know there was Ibrahim. He was one of those tout-hustlers who worked with the tourists. I, however, as a Greek, ought to be a sailor and not a tourist, so I was not a prospective client of his. I had known him since the very first day of my arrival. He always shuffled around in the neighborhood and I was bumping into him ofttimes.
One evening, while I felt a desire for some company, I came across him sitting on a kerb and scanning the area around him for tourists. “Hey, Ibrahim! How’s it going? What are you up to?” I said as I approached him. “Ah, nothing really. Just waiting here to see if there is any Mzungu going to pass by, so to make some shillings, you know. But nah, I think I’ll get going soon. Very quiet day it has been,” he said back. Then I proposed he comes over to buy him a beer. Of course, he accepted.
Various interesting stuff I heard from that guy. He was the first to explain to me the meaning of the term ‘mzungu’: This is a Kiswahili word, but it is widely used in many east African languages to denote a European or a white person in general; and it etymologically means “one who wanders aimlessly.” He told me, in particular, a lot of interesting stuff regarding his profession: the various methods by which one can get money from a tourist there; the multiple tactics they can follow to succeed; he also analyzed a bit the psychology of the western tourist… etc. I found him quite an expert in his craft, I must admit. “Ibrahim, said I to myself when I was a kid, someday one Mzungu will change your life! So I have 20 years working with them already. I still hope” he concluded.