The Game

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I would like to talk a little bit about the Game. Which game is this you ask? Well it's the Kinshasa game and probably a game that is played in many other places. In Kinshasa everything is a part of the game, buying and selling, how you negotiate business deals even the way you drive. To the Congolese it is just a way of life however to a westerner it's a frustrating way of life. I will start with the most obvious one; bargaining the price. We go to the art Market every once and a while and because of this we tend to know the actual 'good price' however for any given item it takes about 5-15 min to bargain down to that 'good price'. Sometimes for me this is fun, bargaining back and forth until you get to the price that you both knew you were going to get too in the first place. There are some people that do this and well they do it nicely, they remember you, they give you a smile they are excited that you have brought other ppl to buy things from them or that you are buying something else from them. They still start high but it's not ridiculous.

Then there are others that set the starting price SO high that its almost funny. They see my white face and they see a big fat dollar sign and they want to take me for everything that I got. They know its way unfair, I know it's unfair but they want to see how much they can swindle me for.

This is frustrating.

so when you are in a market and about 15 different people are yelling at you and upset that you have not bought anything from their booth, your baby is fussing because its 100 degrees outside and the person is looking at you stone face with a price WAY over the top... Sometimes I get upset, sometimes I am just there to buy one thing and I don't want to take 15 min to talk this person down. I want to get it for the price I know it is and move on. *sigh*

Luckily walking away is a good bargaining tactic cause sometimes I need to to clear my head, and you know what sometimes I leave paying more then I know it's worth... Cause my time is worth more to me. Time. Oh Africa Time.

There is a place we buy fabric from, it is indeed fantastic fabric. As the weeks went along and we brought more people there they started raising the prices of the fabric, same fabric, they just knew that we would come and buy stuff and they wanted to see if they could get us to pay more and started to be more insistent that that was indeed the price. Now in our culture if you are a regular you get perks because they know you will continue to spend money there, but here it's all about what you can get today so you can get food today and tomorrow will worry about tomorrow. Which is good, but we know that in the long run consistency is better then one big payout. Back again to time, I knew that before I came that future thinking was going to be rare but I didn't quite realize how exactly it would affect life; prices going up for consistent buyers is one of them. So at the fabric place as we were bargaining the price I explained that I know what the price is and just because I am white doesn't mean that I don't remember what the price it and we can very easily go else where if they would like to over charge us.

Now I just feel mean, we go here because we want to support the local Congolese, to buy from the Local markets but if I give all of my money away today... I will have nothing to give away tomorrow.

I know this. They don't understand this. Why? Well how can you when there are always rumors of your country falling apart, with wars and rebel activity happening in your country, they really don't know what will happen tomorrow, they really don't know if there will be any fabric to sell to the Mundele's next week because they could all get evacuated like they did in years gone past.

It's a game but its a very real game with very real consequences and sometimes it frustrates me and sometimes I loose my cool, but I am not here to change how people do business. Other people may be but I am not, I am here to live a life that says that I don't worry about tomorrow because I know that Jesus will take care of me so while I also do not worry I will also be honest, truthful, loving and patient; though it will not always be easy I will trust in The Lord of the universe. You know what, I fail at these things. It is hard to be patient, it's hard to be kind however luckily God is merciful, abounds in grace and covers my sins through his Sinlessness not through anything I've done or deserve.

The western way of doing thing is not always the best and the African way of doing things is not either. However there are many GOOD things in both cultures and I hope to toss out the bad in both and soak up the good. Then maybe I will have a better understanding of what the culture of heaven will be like, when Sin and brokenness are gone and restoration and justice reign.


  1. I have good and bad memories about the game. I did actually love to bargain but at some point, during my time in Kinshasa I felt like because I was a Mudele everything was higher. But I got some good deal and some terrible. I miss you guys

    Dave Pearson


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