My African Sister Hates Me
I must confess, when I first saw you I hated you! Well, no at first I thought, ‘great hair’ and then I saw you walk up to my African brothers and shower them with hugs and kisses, so then I decided I hated you.
This is what my new friend, a Ugandan woman named Martha, told me the other night.
When Sanni and I joined Apollo & Tony at the bar a few nights ago I walked in first while Sanni, the gentleman that he is, remained outside to pay for the motorbike driver. As is my usual manner I was, in fact, showering the guys with affection.
In the time I’ve known Apollo we’ve grown to become extremely close friends. It began because he too has a white girlfriend (whose in her home country) and developed into a mutual respect for each other’s biracial relationship needs. Apollo, raised in white communities, has a knack for explaining things to me so that my westernised ears can fully understand and I have a unique ability to keep him on the good side of evil because of his harmless, yet extremely cheeky, personality.
The size of the bar makes an eye-sweep an easy task. I’ve been there often enough to spot the out-of-towners so when I saw ‘the African woman’ and her white friend sitting at the other end of the bar I was intrigued. Until, that is, I saw the look that passed across her face.
Unmistakable when you’re on the receiving end. It tells you exactly how much you’re loathed by another person. It tells you how a person is feeling, it tells you what they’re thinking and it tells you how little a chance in hell you’ve got of ever getting in that persons good books.
The woman’s body language in that split second told me all I needed to know. This woman didn’t like me being so friendly with her African brothers. This could very easily be called racism but it’s not really, it’s more like a protective older sister.
That, and a healthy dose of jealousy.
Martha’s not alone in her reaction to me. I’m hated by most African women who don’t know me and loved by those who do. There aren’t many African women in Cambodia so I have very few concerns but when I go to an African bar here I have to arm myself with steel confidence to protect myself from the women who frequent there; their lethal looks, sharp elbows and swift dance hips are the stuff of pit-bulls on heat.
African women aren’t so different from white women in their preferences, except perhaps that African women are more likely to date a western or an African man and rarely other cultures. This means that in a city like Phnom Penh the fish in the sea are severely depleted and if you happen to be an African woman who likes African men you’ve got a harder job still because you also have to compete with the local girls.
I shouldn’t really be considered a threat because I have Sanni but irrationality is irrational for a reason. I am friends with so many of the guys here and yet, I’m still a foe because I have something they don’t. Their friendship. I have established myself as someone who honours and respects each of them as a friend. They can relax around me because there is no sexual chemistry to mix things up. I am just my normal self, someone who genuinely cares for her friends and doesn’t have a problem showing it. I hug, kiss, dance, laugh and play around and have little problem with public displays of affection.
Most women though are not that relaxed, especially not if they’re single and on the chase. Women are too concerned with what people think of them to relax and be themselves. I don’t have those concerns because of my relationship and it makes a big difference to my behaviour. Without a doubt, if I were single I’d be as sensitive as any other.
In the end an interesting thing happened, both women moved tables closer to our group (I’m told later this was to size me up!) when Apollo worked his charm. As Martha chatted with Tony, I spoke with her friend Parveem about this sites objectives when I noticed a shift in Martha’s body language. It was as though she’d split her hearing down the middle.
A moment later she was excusing herself to the bathroom and returning to sit at the opposite end of the table to join Parveem & my conversation. The more I spoke the more I observed the ice queen melt. I had already decided that I liked her regardless of how she felt about me but the turn around came when I asked for her input on the site and received the offer of a African public figure who might be willing to be interviewed. That’s when I knew I’d won her over.
Martha and I laughed endlessly over her honest hatred of me and from it I have gleaned a greater understanding of who I am in the African community here. I have little doubt my African sister loves me now.