By accident, while looking for something else, I came across this interesting blog post on a blog I'd never seen before. It's by a women living in Addis Ababa, written a few months ago. She discusses an interesting aspect of her experience living as a foreign white woman in Ethiopia.
for the love: a ferenjwa on ferenji (or ferenjoch, however you want to put it: Ferenji don’t want to cause a scene. We get stared at. Two ferenji crossing paths feels more like a social experiment in a closed room with people standing around ready to take notes. People are watching to see what will happen. And so we ignore each other. Observations are made but at least we can be sure the conclusion is not “all ferenji know each other.” The other part of it is the message that ferenji in Ethiopia are no big deal.“We don’t make a big deal about each other so please don’t make a big deal about us.”
The relative privilege of whiteness in the world has an interesting side effect in the way in which white people can interact with each other among the non-white. A kind of embarassed self-consciousness.
As an aside, I am fascinated to learn that "ferenjoch" is the word for people of European descent in Amharic. "Gora" is used in Urdu as the normal and perhaps slightly perjorative way to refer to white people, but there's also the word "ferengi," as in, amusingly, the big-eared short people on Star Trek: The Next Generation who had a religion of wealth-acquisition. However, I am quite certain that both words are transported from Arabic "al-Faranj", which means "Frankish". That is: "Crusader."