Hakuna Matata

“I’m getting a bit worried about you, ya know,” she said, her voice clearly laced with concern.


“‘Cos you’re becoming like me, and I’m becoming like how you used to be.”

Considering that I’m the big sister, it should’ve been me giving her sisterly advice, but when she laid it out to me, I couldn’t contest what she was saying. My little sister was worried about my expressions of always wanting to ‘knock people out’ since coming to Egypt.

I like to blame it on the heat; it makes you less patient and more susceptible to anger easily. And although I often say, “I’d give him a knock in his chest” and “I’d hit him around the back of the head” plus “If she pushes me on the metro again, I’ll have to do her something”, these are all wishful threats, because in my 20-something years of life, I’ve never gotten into a physical fight with anyone. Never.

There was an incident yesterday that could well have changed that, but God had better plans, and I was satisfied with dishing out a long death-stare to the perpetrators.

Imagine me bopping along (yes, the bop was needed because it was a highly male-concentrated area I was walking through, and so I had to put on my ‘don’t try it’ demeanour on.), no ear-phones this time and I hear a shout coming from the other side of the road.

Aywa, ya sawda! Hakuna matata!

Which, in South London style, would translate to: “Yes, yes, black girl! Hakuna matata”. Why they would say There’s no problem in Swahili baffles me, but maybe they thought that I was one of the voices from The Lion King, who knows! Whatever their weird shababi reasoning, it was meant to be a stab at the fact that I’m black.

Now, in my head, I was saying to myself, “Just walk on… just – walk – on,” but there have been so many instances of Egyptian female friends being harassed verbally recently, where they did nothing to show that they wouldn’t stand for it, and the harassers go ahead to do it to other women because no one has ever put them in their place. So, I decided that the best I could do, short of crossing the road and slapping the young idiots around the back of their heads, was to stop walking and give them my death stare.

Now, there really is no way to describe this particular stare, but let’s just say it makes people feel hot around the back of their necks because it is unblinking and very intense.

At first they thought they could laugh it off, but soon realised that I wasn’t letting up, so they chose to avert my gaze while muttering inaudibly.

I was pretty satisfied with that, and I telepathically told them, “Think twice. Fools.” Here’s to hoping they got the message.

– The Londoner


Posted on June 8, 2011, in Ruminations about Cairo, Snippet of Moi and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Its not the heat. Go through any blog on Egypt and you will find a similar curve. Fascination and exploration, followed by realisation and frustration, then relaxation and critical acceptance. Welcome to stage 2. It does not mean you want to go home, no, to the contrary, it means you want to stay and are arranging things the way you would like to see them. Unfortunately that means having to put up with some general attitudes and societal habits which are…….irksome. It is the reason why some Egyptians will say “I don’t know what makes you live here…if I were you I’d be gone.” Yes, I know what they mean. You may be a little young for it but 80s style “mick-taking” dead in London is still very much a fad here. But there is so much more good than bad, something I could no longer really say about the environment I left. A case of priorities I guess. So glad you’re here and enjoying your journey, keep it up.

  2. 1) I have had a very similar conversation with my older sister. I used to be the aggressive one, but now it seems roles are reversed. (Helped, I’m sure, by the fact that I’m actually no longer living in Cairo.)

    2) I salute your stare! I could never seem to get it to be intimidating enough. I’ll need to work on it now that I’m moving back.

    • Maybe you could furrow your eyebrows a little deeper and widen your eyes a little – just imagine being able to see right through their heart and squeezing it. I’m totally non-violent, of course!

      When will Cairo be graced by your presence? 🙂

  3. Hmmm. Your description sounds very much like how I look when squinting in the sun. So maybe that’s the solution – mean staredown actually = sun squinting.

    I’ll be heading back mid-August inshallah. Weee!

  4. Maalesh, I can’t believe these fools would say something like that to you, but I’m delighted that you provided consequences to their actions – good on you! Inshallah, I will be as brave when man-children in Cairo vocally imply that I am easy because I have red hair and light skin. Keep up the good work, chick 😀

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