Another story by Enrico, a fellow aidworker in South Sudan, who wrote several short stories on The Road.
Late evening, I step out of our compound with a Ugandan colleague for a last (walking) meeting, when we're approached by a man wearing an military uniform, visibly eager to chat with a Kawagia ("white man" in the local language).
Despite their past bellicose nature, the locals here in Jonglei, South Sudan are usually friendly and discrete. After the usual how-are-you question, he uncommonly ventures a bit further by inquiring for my name and my nationality, and abruptly asks:
- “What’s marriage like in Europe?”
- “I beg your pardon?”, I say doubtfully.
- “I mean, do you pay the brides by cow or by cash?”, he specifies.
- “Well, neither of the two.”, I respond casually to hide my amusement
- “So what’s the advantage for the owner of the girl then?”, he replies with a big smile and looks at me as if I’m coming from outer space. He chuckles and as he walks away he turns to my colleague and says:
- “Hey, black brother, you’d better tell your friend how it works!” still smiling and mulling over the funniest thing that ever happened to him.
Picture courtesy Ulrik Pedersen