A Storyby Nate Haken
It was the Danish guy from the embassy, not me, who wanted to hang out at this place, with soukous music and lots of Burundian girls wandering around from table to table under the stars. I had just landed that day, sleep deprived, in Central African Republic, and I’d been drinking for quite some time with Bokassa before the Danish guy showed up. So when I tried to talk about the systems dynamics of peace and stability operations and counterinsurgency, it came out garbled. “Cause and effect,” I proclaimed, “is difficult to ascertain. The only thing you can take to the bank is that external actors aren’t really external at all. As soon as Allah appears, he’s no longer Allah.” I was feeling philosophical.
The Danish guy handed me a business card. “Come by my office when you get back from the gold mine,” he said. I wasn’t making sense, and he didn’t want to entertain my bloviations on war and peace right then. He turned to the girl sitting on his lap and asked her where she was from. “I am musungu,” he said in French, trying to embarrass her. That was slang for white person. She smiled, not sure what his point was, and kissed him on the cheek.
He elbowed me. “You’re the big prize tonight,” he said. “American.”