Captain Harrigan

Feb. 15, 2005
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

I changed money in Nairobi, Kenya at a good hotel: $300, six fifty-dollar bills. The woman behind the counter slowly took a pencil and began writing the serial number of each bill on a sheet of paper. I looked down in New York bewilderment. I realized I would stand there until the end of the process, which also included two other people, a key, a back room, and an accountant who had to approve every transaction.

I have been addressed in a variety of ways here in Congo, most recently as "Captain," which I must admit was a bit of a disappointment, as I aspire to higher rank. A gardener cutting flowers looked up and addressed me as "father," which I did not know how to take. But my favorite is when you go by little kids, tiny kids, in a car, kids who have rarely if ever seen a white person. Their face grows round in amazement and with a huge smile they shout out "mizunga," or "whitey." I look out the window and wait for it.

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Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.