Friday, May 20, 2011

Misconceptions of Toubabs

Like we have many misconceptions of Africa, Gambians have many misconceptions of Toubabudo (the West).  One nice misconception Gambians have is that toubabs never lie! We may have some fun with this one at times ;).
Yesterday, I was chatting with some women and they told me that toubab women don’t let their bellies get big when they’re pregnant – that they hold them down with belts! I said no, our stomachs get big just like yours and pointed at my very pregnant host mom. They said they had never seen a toubab women with a big stomach like that and I explained that most toubab women want to have babies in their own countries not Gambia and that is not good to travel by airplane when you are very pregnant. So if anyone wants to send us some pictures of proof that toubab womens stomachs do indeed get very big and we don’t hold them down with belts, send us what ya got!
Me with the ladies, just doing some ironing with a charcoal iron like the ones seen in museums, no big deal

There is also the misconception that toubabs are rich without having to work.  And even if we do work, its much less and much easier than work in the Gambia.  We constantly explain that people work very hard in America, and generally work long, strenuous hours.  I doubt they believe us even still and after our explanation they still say Oh but its not manual labor so its easier.
Along these same lines, Solo keeps talking about how his ancestors didn’t have stores to get things from – and implying that our ancestors have always had stores.  This makes me a little defensive and I always reply: my ancestors didn’t have stores either – we’re Americans not Brits! And usually follow it up with an emphatic ‘I’m from Texas!’ that is mostly for our own amusement.
Solo has stated a couple times how in America we have no more land, not like here.  I say no, America has lots of land, and tell him that our families also have farms. He was shocked and said Oh but you are losing it because its so crowded with people; I told him yes, in some parts of America its very crowded and there is no more land but where we’re from there’s still plenty.
A government sponsored program came out to our village the other day with a Catipillar digger to dredge some of rice fields.  Ben saw some old women go out and watch it work and said the looks on those womens faces were priceless! We speculated on how these women have probably never seen anything like those machines, and how to them it was like looking at something from a different world.


  1. I can send you some pics of my large belly in the next few months. You know how big my pregnant belly gets, which I think is larger than the average pregnant Toubab! There's one of me on FB at 36 weeks, so you can show them that. Miss you guys!

  2. Your stories are so wonderful, Kate! I love reading everything about the people your with, your daily life, etc. So happy for you and Ben :)