The Muzungu in Rwanda (M. rwandicus)

M. rwandicus Spotting

A genuine interest in the muzungu in Rwanda is evident within the local population, but a lack of proper understanding of the species has often led to frustration among those wishing to interact with them. The muzungu in Rwanda (M. rwandicus) is for the most part a gentle creature, but has been known on occasion to be a nuisance to its surroundings. It is therefore pertinent to increase the level of knowledge, both for local inhabitants and other muzungus. As the philosopher said: Human, know thy self. And so we shall.

The most vital point of information about the M. rwandicus is its many sub-species. It is simply impossible to assume one knows all muzungus after being acquainted with one specimen. In Rwanda, there have been recorded as many as 11 sub-species, each with its unique set of behavioral peculiarities. While some groups are less prevalent than others, all should be studied methodically in order for a thorough understanding to be attained.  Fellow muzungus and locals alike should benefit from this brief anthropological piece.

The Volunteering Muzungu (Immaturicus gullibulus)

This bubbly, life-loving sub-species is plentiful in numbers, and easily located. They fly in from the Western hemisphere on a quarterly basis, and are set on having as much fun as possible while they’re here. While most are spotted in or around Kigali, some are stationed in faraway villages or around Lake Kivu. Luckily, though, they frequently bus into the city on the weekends.

The I. gullibulus are amusingly naïve and are, as a direct result, far down on the food chain. The other muzungu sub-species enjoy playing with the I. gullibulus, and are often accompanied by the local population in this particular pastime. Their games rarely turn dramatic, however, so it is perfectly safe to observe – or even participate.

With no dietary restrictions, an open mind, and an adventurous spirit, the I. gullibulus is the easiest (and cheapest) sub-species to maintain. Feed them a goat brochette, some ibirayi, and a cold Primus, and they’ll stick around for as long as you want them. As most are not yet fully developed, however, they still show signs of immaturity, and may have serious unresolved daddy- or mummy-issues. Do with that what you wish.

The Naughty Muzungu (Particus libidus)

First observed in the early 90s, the P. libidus are now prevalent in Kigali. They are, for the most part, unable to cook for themselves, and are therefore easily spotted at the many restaurants in the city. This absurdly social sub-species easily forms close bonds with the local population as well as with members from most of the other sub-group of muzungus (even the A. evangelistus). Though rarely monogamous, the P. libidus does on occasion attempt fidelity. There is not sufficient data to confirm whether P. libidus are able to live in long-term monogamous relationships, however.

They are naturally nocturnal, but their (ridiculously well-paid) jobs force them to stay up during the day. The P. libidus compensates for this, however, by napping by the pool in the weekends, preferably with a Long Island Iced Tea close at hand.

Both the male and female have a highly developed capability to charm others, often a result of their pleasant physical appearance, though more commonly due to a mystical alluring aura.

They have no dietary restrictions whatsoever, and will gulp down whatever you feed them. Be careful when in presence of alcohol, as most P. libidus are shape-shifters and are liable to transform into voracious, ruthless hunters. In other words: don’t let their cute exterior fool you.

The Blogging Muzungu (Geekus macbookus)

Seemingly attached to their electronic gadgets, the G. macbookus can be hard to get close to. For the best chance of encountering one, visit any coffee shop with free wifi. It is a mystery what the G. macbookus does on his/her computer, iPhone, iPad, and/or Kindle all day long, though according to the experts they do a lot of blogging. This bizarre obsession with documenting their own lives, might make them difficult to bond with, but at least you’ll always have a topic at hand should the conversation grow stale: “So tell me about YOU then…”

This slightly asocial yet friendly sub-species consume copious amounts of coffee and are therefore liable to have shaky hands and strange ticks. Fear not, however, they are not insane (though admittedly a good number have proven to be weird), and can make for good friends. They are trustworthy and kind, and – when plied with alcohol – fun people to party with. Many G. macbookus are in long-distance relationships (maintained on Skype, Facebook, and Twitter), and so are rarely available for anything other than platonic relationships. Just as well perhaps, as they are likely to move onto a new country for more blog-worthy experiences.

The Christian Muzungu (Americus evangelistus)

The first specimen of the A. evangelistus was spotted decades ago in the area around Kigali. Today, the species is most often seen at the top of the Gacriro hill or mingling around the African Bagel Company in Kicukiro.

A. evangelistus is a tranquil creature, with an abnormally wide smile, great teeth and a predisposition to long hugs. They like moving about during daylight (preferably in jolly packs of ten or more), and resting at night. You will rarely spot an A. evangelistus out past midnight.

While most members of this sub-species arrive to Rwanda in family units, there are a small number arriving alone every year. These single specimens are hardworking, dedicated people, with a blissfully twisted view of reality but a nonetheless joyful manner and mood. They are moderately social, and like spending hours discussing how man managed to ride dinosaurs back when God created Earth 5.000 years ago.

Though A. evangelistus has a rare love of ice cream and hamburgers, they have few dietary restrictions. They are habitual creatures that often return to the same feeding place several times a week. In their leisure time A. evangelistus like playing card-games and reading books by Lahaya and Jenkins . The married A. evangelistus has an uncommon sexual drive, most likely stemming from the years of absolute abstinence during adolescence. A single specimen is not available for casual relationships of any kind, and any such attempts will scare off the timid A. evangelistus.

The Hippie Muzungu (Naturalistus hairycus)

A majority of the members of this sub-species originates from the American continent, having travelled around the world with their portable house (usually in the form of a ludicrously over-sized backpack). They are abnormally communal, and like clustering together in small houses, or sharing rooms at hostels. While the male N. hairycus usually can be spotted because of his beard, the female is easily recognized by the incredible mane of hair, tied back with a piece of string or igitenge fabric. Both sexes like loose, colorful clothing, and have been known to have mental breakdowns if their toes are not out in the open.

This fascinating sub-species like speaking Kinyarwanda when ordering their meals or hailing a cab and, as their linguistic compendium usually is limited to “Ufite pili pili?” and “Ndashaka Primus ikonje”, their conversations are usually lacking in substance. But at least they feel awesome and worldly, and what makes an N. hairycus happy, makes everyone happy.

Many N.hairycus are vegetarian or vegan, and you should therefore be careful when inviting one of them to your house. They are calm and harmonic creatures, however, and will be happy eating a dry piece of bread as long as they are allowed to play on the guitar they brought along, or at least do some yoga in your kitchen.

In their leisure time the N. hairycus likes building massive bonfires, drinking alcohol, and smoking illegal substances. They have been known to be rather sexually liberated, though usually with members of their own sub-species.

The Rastafari Muzungu (Relaxus chillicus)

It can be tricky to spot a R. chillicus, as they prefer resting in their nest. In the evening, however, certain members of the sub-species have been known to go to One Love, or Oxygen for the live music.

The R. chillicus are similar to the N. hairycus in appearance – indeed, certain anthropologists argue that it is merely a variation of the latter. They normally have dreadlocks, and they shun make-up and other appearance-enhancing products, but as they lead a relaxed, love-filled lives they look naturally glowing.

Do not approach the R. chillicus while he/she is high on illegal substances, as this might provoke a deep monologue about the cosmic bond between all humans. Free love, dude.

The Selfless Muzungu (Concieratus incrediblus)

Despite being the smallest group of Rwandan muzungus, the C. incrediblus (NOT to be confused with the B. incrediblus) are still useful to know about. They rarely live in Kigali, but have their preferred habitat high up in the Ruhengeri mountains or out East. On occasion you’ll observe them at Nakumatt, stocking up on canned food and pasta, with weary looks to all the non-Rwandans. They speak fluent Kinyarwanda, and salute you by bumping their forehead into yours. While some are known to have married members of the local population, most live alone, having dedicated their lives to serve the people in their community. They may run an orphanage, or be building a school, and while they occasionally feel tired, they are relentless in achieving their goals.

Frankly, if you’re looking for fun friends or romantic partners, the C. incrediblus are bad candidates. But if you’re an endangered species or a starving child, you shall want for nothing in the company of this absurdly selfless creature.

The Bitter Muzungu (Bitchus incrediblus)

Among the reported sightings, only two male B. incrediblus have been confirmed. The majority of this sub-species are female, and are easily recognized by their snarky comments and permanent minor intoxication. They work hard in a job they don’t particularly like, but after years of living in extreme luxury, they are unable to return to the Western hemisphere, and thus feel trapped in their current situation. To remedy their bitterness, they make frequent trips abroad, and this might make them difficult to observe on a regular basis.

Their dietary restrictions are complicated and highly individual: some might detest over-cooked pasta, while others have bizarre criteria for how to make a salad. As for alcohol, the B. incrediblus are likely to complain about the quality yet gulp it down with an air of reluctance. Though difficult to be around, most members of this sub-species are fiercely faithful friends and loyal companions …except for when they’re drunk – then they’re just…well, if the name fits…

The Psychotic Muzungu (Whatthefuckus reckus)

This bizarrely aggressive sub-species is truly a rare sighting. Both the male and female are unpredictable, manipulative, and frankly: straight up terrifying. The W. reckus is also incredibly intelligent, and so should be avoided altogether. They are parasitical creatures that not only suck the life out of you, but also possess your empty human shell, and make you do evil things. It should be noted, therefore, that when people act incredibly obnoxious, immoral, and mean, they might just be possessed by a crazy W. reckus.

The W. reckus male is challenging to recognize, but usually have dark hair on his lower back, as well as attached earlobes and/or a toe-ring. The W.reckus female, on the other hand, is impossible to identify until, of course, it is too late and your soul has been sucked out. In order to best defend yourself against this terrible muzungu sub-species – both the male and the female – please make sure you always carry a bottle of Waragi gin. A few shorts of this magical remedy will make you invincible against potential W. reckus attacks.

The Isolated Muzungu (Concealus secludus)

In Kigali, one often feels that one always see the same muzungus walking around. Then, suddenly, you run into a new one, and upon asking when they arrived, it turns out they’ve lived here for years! (What-the-whaaaaaa?!) How it is possible to stay concealed in this city for that long is beyond me, but for the C. secludus it is an easy task. This mole-like sub-species likes spending all his/her time together with other members of the C. secludus group, cooking dinner at home, or watching movies in their own language. They often arrange group events such as hiking, gorilla trekking, or other adventure trips, but – again – never involve anyone but close friends and relatives.

In addition to severe isolation from the Rwandan society, people, food, cultural events, and hangouts, the C. secludus also have extreme aversion toward spending time with other muzungus. To secure complete seclusion, the C. secludus therefore avoid going out to restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, and other social hangouts such as the pool.

Anthropologists are divided on the issue of what the C. secludus is doing here, and why on earth they stay when clearly they have no interest in Rwanda whatsoever. While some believe they are here simply to put ‘Africa’ on their CV, others argue there might be a deeper mental condition causing the C. secludus’ retarded behavior.

The Wannabe Rwandan (Pretendicus rwandicus)

A tricky sub-species to identify, the P. rwandicus has been around since the first muzungus made their way to this beautiful land. In their obsessive love to Rwanda, they struggle to become Rwandan, not only by way of marriage and permanent residency, but also by following numerous challenging steps. For those with in-depth knowledge of the authentic Rwandan, the incredible task of becoming one is evident. Nevertheless, the number of P.rwandicus is growing, and while most fail to attain an adequate level of Rwandaness, some do succeed to a certain degree.

The P. rwandicus speak at least three languages, though this number is usually still not enough to match a real Rwandan. In addition, the P. rwandicus share their monthly salary with their family and friends, but as the average size of a non-Rwandan family is around 4, this too is far removed from what a proper Rwandan gives of him/herself. The P. rwandicus try to the best of their ability to greet everyone they meet, to be patient when talking to strangers, and to share meals with colleagues and neighbors on a weekly basis. They make sure their shoes are always clean, that they hair is always done properly, and that they always have enough money on them to buy someone lunch if need be. They try to be outgoing and energetic, yet fostering a healthy spiritual life.

One can most easily spot the P. rwandicus during the night, as this is when they work on their dancing skills. While most muzungu sub-species have accepted their lack of grace and talent, the P. rwandicus are relentless as they strive to master the art of movement. Obviously, the most challenging step is appearing as physically close to a Rwandan as possible. While lying in the sun may marginally alter the ghastly pale hue most muzungus are born with, the P. rwandicus is still lacking in the magnificently smooth, soft, wrinkle-free appearance of a true Rwandan. Most members of the P.rwandicus sub-species are also vertically challenged in comparison with the local super-model-ish population, and face the incredible task of attaining a close-to-perfect body – be it male or female.

The P. rwandicus make for okay friends, but in their obsessive struggle to be accepted as Rwandans, they do tend to isolate themselves from their surroundings. If your friend is on his/her way to becoming a P. rwandicus, the kindest thing to do might be to advice them to give up. Perfection is to be admired, not attained.

About Inga

Born and raised in Norway, culturally transformed in the US, and now residing in Rwanda. Studied biology, but teaching English in Kigali while finishing up my Master's, and debating future career options. At the moment starting up a cocoa plantation is at the top of my list, closely followed by founding an improv society. Severely technologically challenged, but somewhat creatively gifted. A great lover of the Universe, as well as cakes and salt. A passionate hater of small concrete rooms. Email me at inga@livinginkigali.com.