For the sake of recycling, Africa is the perfect used items dump. This relationship leaves all parties happy. Rich Europeans and Americans can use their clothing, technology, and tools until a better model comes out, or until the trend changes; and then, instead of merely throwing these gently used items away, they can “donate” them to the poor and suffering people in Africa who don’t have any of these things. Whether or not this influx of foreign items alters the local market or artificially drives prices up is irrelevant. The clothing dump especially is useful for my entertainment! Everyday I laugh at the foolish cultural values that would drive someone to buy the things I see here, and pity the situation the Africans find themselves in that convinces them such items are worthwhile.
For instance, the businessman I passed on my way to work this morning. I can tell he is a businessman because he is carrying a briefcase and wearing pressed trousers with black shoes that have a pointed toe. However, he is wearing a discarded t-shirt that reads: “Who are these children and why are they calling me DAD?” I laugh at the person who originally bought this shirt. No matter what decade or what country, advertising this feeling on an article of clothing seems a bit ludicrous. But then the poor person decided to be a Good Samaritan and give the shirt to someone who needed a shirt. And this unsuspecting African, believing that English words make a person distinguished, bought this shirt rather than a locally made polo or dress shirt. So in an effort to be professional and distinguished, this African businessman donned a shirt that screams to any English speaker idiocy.
There are those that are much more humorous too. Such as the pre-adolescent boy who wore a tank top that said, “I look better naked.” Or I got a huge kick out of the 20ish year-old boy wearing a large, Walmart brand shirt with Miley Cyrus’ face painted on it and “Hannah Montana” written in cursive letters down the side. ‘Cute’, I thought to myself as he walked by with a swagger in his steps that proclaimed to the world his undeniable “coolness”.
The best, perhaps, was the skinny late teenaged boy wearing a shirt clearly made for an obese toddler: “I don’t WANT to go to BED!” ‘That’s fine’, my inner babysitter thought. ‘It is only three in the afternoon and you are far too wound up to fall asleep right now anyway. Maybe we will let you run around and tire yourself out…’