Dear Expat [BSonblast #7]

Dear expat living in Sudan,

Kindly refrain from speaking about Sudan if you’ve only been to one place in it (Khartoum). Kindly refrain from giving us your opinion on the country if you know virtually *nothing* about it. Kindly refrain from speaking on Sudanese life and issues if you have no Sudanese friends while living in Sudan. Particularly, kindly refrain from speaking on Sudanese life and issues if you are uninterested/afraid/repulsed by the idea of making Sudanese friends or getting to know Sudanese people.

On a similar note, kindly refrain from referring to Sudanese people as “the locals”. Kindly refrain from pointing out how (lit.) poor Sudanese folk are “probably so much happier” than you and your expat friends, because they have ‘heart’ or ‘soul’ or whatever word you use to infantilize people. While you’re at it, kindly refrain from sharing your “surprise” whenever you meet a Sudanese person who is fluent in your mother tongue, particularly if it’s English. English is not special, so kindly refrain the next time you feel the urge to ask, “Where did you learn English?” or “But, you don’t even have an accent!”.

Kindly refrain from portraying yourself as “roughing it in Africa” if you live on a compound. Kindly refrain from portraying yourself as “roughing it in Africa” if your job gives you housing, a car, and monthly stipend beyond your salary. Kindly refrain from portraying yourself as “roughing it in Africa” if you only frequent places where the majority of other patrons are expats like yourself (read: Ozone). OH, and kindly refrain from complimenting something by saying “I felt like I wasn’t even in Sudan!” – especially to a Sudanese person.

This one will probably be the most difficult, because as a people we Sudanese have the  urge to please, but kindly refrain from disappointment the next time a Sudanese person is not *overly* kind to you, or doesn’t care that you’re present in the room. Kindly refrain from being indignant when you aren’t given special treatment, or the next time a Sudanese person disagrees with you on something. Kindly refrain from calling them ‘rude’ because they had a difference of opinion. Similarly, kindly refrain from voicing your objection to this letter. If it does not apply to you, then it is obviously not meant for you. But perhaps, just perhaps, it’s meant for another expat – perhaps one in your immediate vicinity?

Lastly, kindly refrain from offense when someone calls you an immigrant. Kindly refrain from correcting them “actually, it’s expat”. Semantics aside, immigrant is not an insult. It is not a cuss word. It is not a slur or derogatory label. It is a word that means you moved from your country to live in another. Your offense highlights the negative connotation you’ve put on it, and thus your own prejudice.

So kindly, refrain.

4 thoughts on “Dear Expat [BSonblast #7]

  1. I am sorely tempted to rewrite (i.e. steal!) this post with reference to *anything* done by people with disabilities and the responses we get from those without disabilities! “You wouldn’t even know that you’re blind…”

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