Why I'll Never Visit Cairo Again...
When I booked my flight to Cairo, I was pumped to return to The Continent. As a Black American, who travels, I make sure to include trips to Africa as often as possible. And before you ask, you don’t have to have that conviction, but I do. In 2006, my first passport stamp led me to Cape Town and sparked my travel bug, owing my nomadic life to the Motherland. So, Cairo. It was an easy choice because after working in Oman, taking a direct flight, for four hours, and $200 later, I would land back on the soil of my ancestors. As a kid, you might know Egypt by a few different things:
1. Moses and the Prince of Egypt...you know, the bible story turned spiritual, “Let my people go.”
2. The pyramids
3. ancient civilization and how it all begin in Africa *as a Black person this was the page in all history books that highlighted Africa in a good way. The rest of Africa was defined by slavery, huts, animals, the equator and the poor little kids looking to live off of $1 a day.
Well, unfortunately, only one of those realities were experienced during my trip. No one spoke about Moses, which was disappointing and NO one dared say they were in Africa.
So I saw the pyramids, did the Nile cruise, did all the museums and walks of history through civilization. However, none of it sat well as I knew the information was incomplete.
I knew that there were Blacks (in color and identity) who built the pyramids, ruled the lands and were a part of civilization but there was so much done to remove the evidence in the museums, in the tours and amongst conversations with locals.
While walking through the famous Egyptian Bazaar with my Black co-worker who also went on the trip we had a series of interactions with locals..
First, was a highlight. We met a Nigerian guy who owned a shop who told us how he ended up in Cairo, and then meeting my sisters from Sudan who blessed me with gorgeous black henna.
All of that went up in flames, when a Egyptian boy, fair skinned with Eurocentric features, asked me:
“Are you American?”
Just wanting to be difficult and stand for my brothers and sisters on the continent I decided to be proud, and I responded, “Nope. I’m African!”
*Brace yourself for the rest*
He says, “No you can’t be African..”
Me: “Why not?”
Him: “You pretty, you not African, you have to be American.”
Me: “WHAT!!??? Are you serious??”
Him: Yes, no African pretty. You pretty. You American. I know”
My coworker sees me livid, and comes over, and is just as angry.
The only thing I could do was to CLAPBACK with: “Oh so your mom, she’s not pretty?”
Him: Yes, she pretty. We not African, we (Egyptians) are Asian.
Yall, this literally frustrated me to no end. I was so upset. My coworker and I stood in the reality of this mindset that globally African and the diaspora are always given the "bottom of the totem pole" narrative, and even their own are ashamed to be African.
So, If you do decide to go to Egypt, I suggest going to Cairo- because you have to, but take time to head to Aswan and Luxor in the South which is where most of the dark-skinned Egyptians live. There you will find a better understanding of the Nubian era and get more clarity on the Black narrative. I was happy when I left and went to Jordan. I most likely won't go back to Cairo again.