Reporters on the Job
• Disco's Better Than Candy: After three years in Africa, staff writer Abraham McLaughlin has gotten used to attracting a crowd. Often he's been the only white person for miles. And kids will invariably crowd around to see the "Mazoongo" – white person – and beg for candy, food or money.
"I was waiting for Anita – one half of the couple profiled in today's story about interethnic marriage in Burundi – for about an hour outside her house. A a gaggle of kids gathered too. At first, they held out their hands and asked for candy. I had none. So we just stared at each other," says Abe.
"Then, as the minutes dragged on, we started joking around – although we didn't speak the same language. For some reason, I did a little disco dance move. The kids thought this was hilarious. They started imitating me – and then burst into giggles," he says.
One kid in particular would say, "Mazoongo" and then do a little hip shake. "That was my cue to do the same. Then he'd reciprocate, and we'd all laugh. It was a little thing, but it made me glad I hadn't brought any candy or money. Our little disco-dance routine was about people from different cultures, who spoke different languages, finding a tiny way to connect," says Abe. "It was also a connection on a more-equal footing than the common dynamic between Westerners and Africans – that of beggar and giver."
David Clark Scott