Discovering Little Paris - I, Afrikanac

My husband is an Afrikanac.  That's what they call him at work – the African.  It's funny because he has green eyes and fair-skin.  In fact, he looks “whiter” than most people around here.  He looks like a European, but his nickname echoes what it says in his passport – he is a South African.  I too am an African, and clearly so, but my ability to speak the language here and dual citizenship has awarded me privileges that others may not have.  But, we'll get to the matter of privilege in another post...

Many times I've tried to step into my husband's shoes  - he's in a foreign country, with a strange language that only now is he beginning to understand.  Things that I take for granted are needlessly difficult for him.  Things like shopping for groceries are a challenge as most items are labelled only in Croatian.  For a country that relies so heavily on tourism, it's one of those things that they'll have to catch up on.

Being an Afrikanac also means he doesn't have the right to state health insurance and other government  services.  Instead he is treated like an outsider by the state.  I guess we could accept it if it stopped there, but the problem also extends into a our social life.  For some reason, Croats are not accommodating when in the company of foreigners.  In social situations, usually people will speak to me in the expectation that I will convey the message to my husband.  This is true even if the other person speaks English as a second language.  This puts me in the position of translator every time we go out.

But, my husband is learning.  And aside from the few grievances, we have a good life here in what I do believe is a small paradise on this Earth.

Maja Dezulovic

1 comment:

  1. Much of the world is getting more insular. That applies to Eastern Europe (my father's parents came form what is now Hungary) and parts of the US are more outspoken in being that way. Anyone who is different sticks out like a sore thumb. A shame, but one can only break down the barriers slowly.