I can deal with the heat. I’ve learned to live with the malaria ridden Mosquitos. I’ve grown accustomed to the giant rats, cockroaches, tarantulas and bats. I’m even learning to put up with the thieves. But the biggest challenge I’ve faced in Africa are the corrupt military/police officers. That being said I believe I just reached a milestone the other day. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with my situation I’ll recap.
I’m an African American living in Central Africa. The country is prejudiced against foreigners but if you’re American you have nothing to worry about. They love Americans. Problem is to them I’m not an American. I’m just another African foreigner who has no rights under the law. In their prejudiced eyes I’m here only to exploit the country or commit crimes.
I’ve been here now for a year and a half. The first time I was stopped by the police the man declared, “Hey you! I need money to fill my gas tank. Look! I’m almost on empty.” When I replied that I didn’t have any money he said, “Get in! You’re going to jail!” He then swung open the back door of the car. I kid you not. There wasn’t even a hint of subtlety in the extortion attempt. I escaped arrest when my friend paid a bribe to have me let go. That was over a year ago. Since then, as mentioned I’ve been settling into my environment although still avoiding when possible the police.
They were getting out of hand with the bribes so about six months ago the president issued a warning to the military about hassling Americans. In America I didn’t worry about walking around without ID. I was raised with certain un alienable rights which I most like others took for granted. Now I walk with a color laminated copy of my passport in one pocket and the original in the other. I offer the copy first. If the situation escalates and they require it I’ll produce the original after having contacted as many locals as possible.
Now let’s fast forward to the milestone I reached the other day. I was in an upholstery shop collecting some leather from a sofa they were about to throw out. The police pulled up in an unmarked car so at first I didn’t realize who it was. The driver honked his horn and waved for me to come over. I figured they thought I was a worker in the store so I called out that I didn’t work there. They just honked the horn again and impatiently waved me over. As I got closer I could see black knee pads and military fatigues. That’s when I realized I was in trouble. My reaction however turned out to be a lot different than my other encounters with the police.
“We’re thirsty. Can you help us out to buy some Fanta?”
I know how these guys work. They start with a favor but end by asking for documents and placing on handcuffs.
“I’m an American,” I said with a strong American accent.
“Fanta!” he repeated.
“I’m from the United States of America,” I said while pulling out the laminated copy of my passport. I then spoke in the national language.
“What? You don’t respect the order of His Excellence about Americans?”
That did the trick. I could tell them I’m an American until I was blue in the face. “Americans don’t rule here,” they would say. Ah but the threat of disrespecting His Excellence is a charge they couldn’t risk being accused of. They took off pretty quick after that.
When Metaphysical Man, Atro City’s resident superhero and trendsetter is inadvertently sucked into an alternate world by a mysterious super villain he’s forced to overcome his only weakness; reality. Read more at http://smashwords.com/books/view/540303#amreading #amwriting