Monday, September 29, 2008
I’m not exactly sure who it was that started the rumor that ‘vazaha’ (white people) eat babies, but some people do believe that here for whatever reason. I wish I was lying about this but I'm not. Have they seen this happen? In any case I had heard this and its true that babies do cry when they see white people if they aren’t used to them especially in the countryside and unfortunately still in my village. I’ve heard this is because the doctors who gave them their shots were white so they relate us to getting a shot. Sounds fair enough and I can understand that reasoning, no kid likes to get shots and even as you get older they still aren’t fun. For the record I think I’ve gotten around 20 shots since I’ve been here and none of them were fun. Anyhow, I had heard of this ‘baby eating’ theory before but thought that was more of a myth and that people didn’t actually believe it. I had never actually been accused of eating them before, that was until a few weeks ago. I was buying vegetables on the side of the road and trying to talking to people in Malagasy. They love it when white people can speak Malagasy and while I’m no expert I was able to communicate with them and explain that I was in the Peace Corps and lived in the countryside and showed them a picture of me in my village that I carry with me for times like this when people don’t believe me that I don’t have a lot of money and actually live like they do. It sounds far fetched to them and I understand that, so hence the picture. They love pictures here so when I pulled it out I had an even bigger crowd and they all had to hold it and look at it. I then started joking that I’m the ‘white Malagasy’ and I’m not a ‘vazaha’. They loved this and agreed that yes I was indeed Malagasy. That was all of them except one woman holding a small child. She still called me a vazaha and encouraged her child to do the same, so I thought if I talked to her that might change her mind. I thought wrong. Instead she told me that I would eat her baby. Really? I couldn’t believe it, so I showed her the vegetables that I had bought and said “Why would I eat your baby when I have food?” This still didn’t work and she told me I would eat her baby and that I should by her baby some cookies. I could tell that I wasn’t going to win this, so I left. I was in a bigger city when this happened and was heading back to my village the next day and who did I see the next morning at the taxi station? Yes, the women and her baby sitting by the taxi that I always take. Of course I was then called vazaha again and asked to buy them food again. She didn’t however tell me that I was going to eat her baby, so maybe our conversation the day before changed her mind?