Sunday, February 24, 2008

Street Entrepreneur vs Ugly American

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's column on Barack Obama's Kenyan connection caught my eye and reminded me of some things that happened during a research trip to Africa for Heart of Diamonds.

Read my comment here. It was posted at 5:54 AM on 2/24/08.

One day, I watched an American Wall Street type haggle over the price of a carved mask with a vendor in a market in Lusaka. He finally persuaded the Zambian to cut his price to the ridiculous level he wanted--50,000 Zwacha (about $13.50 US)--and agreed to buy the mask. Then, clever fellow that he was, the American titan of finance offered a flat $13 US in payment, which the Zambian vendor graciously accepted.

As the Master of the Universe walked away, I heard him chortle to his wife, "I beat the bastard on the exchange rate, too." I must admit, it didn't make me very proud to be an American right at that moment.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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