Overheard at a small spring behind my house, where local kids are often sent to fetch water for their families. [Except in the early mornings when the mothers themselves fetch the majority of the day’s water (for cooking, drinking, cleaning, and washing clothes.] The girls arguing were probably nine or ten:
“Your family’s so poor that after dinner you have to say, ‘Mama, I’m not full, I’m not full. I’m still hungry. I’m not full.'”
“That’s not true. We got plenty of food. Look at you… and them skinny legs. I don’t know how you can even walk with them skinny little legs. Your family’s the one ain’t got no money.”
“I can walk just fine with these legs. I got power in my body. I can carry a whole bucket of water from here to my house. Girl, you probably can’t carry a bucket on your head from here (draws a line in the dirt road) to here (scratches another one).”
“I can too carry water. I do it every day.”
“Not a big bucket, you don’t. Look at that little bucket. If you can carry a big one, then prove it. Do it, girl. Come on. See, you ain’t no lady. See, y’all, she ain’t no lady — can’t even carry a bucket over to here!”
“You’re skinnier than I am. You ain’t got no meat on those bones.”
“Girl, I am thick. And you know it’s true. Because my mama feeds me real good.”
“At least my family’s got a couch. Your family don’t got no couch; everybody be sitting on wood stools all around the room.”
“My family does too have a couch. Ask my neighbors, those kids right there (pointing).”
Those kids: “Yes, they have a sofa. We seen it.”
“My family does too wha wha wha wha… Ask my wha wha wha wha…” said mockingly while holding her nose and rolling her eyes.
“We drink sodas, too. I bet you ain’t never had a soda. You’re family’s so poor all you can drink is water from this here spring. Too bad you ain’t never got the chance to enjoy a Coca-Cola.”
“At least my family ain’t going hungry. Your family don’t got enough money to feed everybody. And you don’t even know how to cook anyway. You ain’t no lady. Your mama probably don’t know either.”
“My mama does know how to cook. And she can till a field, too. Your mama’s so weak she can’t get the land ready to plant.”
“You ain’t ever even seen my house. We got lots of corn.”
- I suppose kids in every culture learn early to make themselves look better by putting others down.
- One difference between these kids’ insults and those of American kids (at least when I was one) is that all the insults about being poor are more likely to be true here. In the states, many insults never actually hit home. It’s possible (and often the case) to make fun of others while saying things that are obviously far from true.
- Another difference is that these Tanzanian kids are already wanting to appear as adults and to perform the duties of their parents (most of those duties seem to fall to the women). And many of the insults are designed accordingly.
- Those of you who enjoy learning about new cultures, take note of what makes one a lady here — and contrast that with our American views and ideals.
- Oh, and when’s the last time you heard an American girl making fun of how skinny another girl was?