We Are the Kings and Queens Living Abroad

Living abroad often gives us culture shock, or we can accept that country has made us into kings and queens, though we are reluctant to accept the crown.

We travel to strange lands, visit their people and they make us kings and queens; and many times we are happy. It is about time somebody realized this was our destiny!

King abroad

Social Class Is Enforced

We often must accept we are the king or queen, chief or chieftain, the upper class, or we will be the lower class.

There are four movies of note where the foreigners are either made the king or cozy up close to the king. This is all good fun, yet often in an ironic twist, it is more real than we wish to accept or know.

Conquerors Made Into Kings

Most historians recount that many native cultures wanted to treat the blond-haired, blue-eyed people who came from the sea as kings:

  • Christopher Columbus conquering or discovering the new world
     
  • Hernando Cortés entering Mexico and then stealing all the gold
     
  • Ferdinand Magellan, sailing around the earth, was killed when the native chieftain of Mactan Island in the Philippines decided Magellan was not to be allowed to become king or chief … or allowed to live.

Adapting to a Culture Versus Culture Shock

I am Andy Lee Graham, presently in Kara, Togo, West Africa, in 2013. The other day, here in West Africa, it occurred to me that one of my biggest problems is that I do not want to be a king or chief here, and it annoys me. Yet, that is the social status the locals wish me to accept. It is not right, but it is close to impossible to avoid.

The locals regularly refuse to stop calling me Papa, Patron, Chief, and the worst is Master, sometimes Thon Thon.

The problem is this: If I do not accept being an upper-class chief, the locals will make me into a lower-class nothing. There is no happy middle ground.

How did I learn to accept being chief or king? It was by violating a rule of social class about how a chief behaves. The chief never says "hello" first; he waits, and then replies to a greeting. If I don’t follow this rule, the locals will demote me and make me their servant. It is truly a cultural catch 22, and either way I lose or win, up to you. ... And being treated as low class here Africa is no fun as there are plenty of alpha males here.

Movies Made or Books Written About Kings

Many writers and movie producers have explained, with stories, this king of new culture phenomena.

The King and I

"The King and I" (1956)

The Prince and the Pauper

"The Prince and the Pauper" (1937)

The last King of Scotland

"The Last King of Scotland" (2006)

The man who would be king

"The Man Who Would Be King" (1975)

We could rename this movie "The Curse of Becoming King."

If we read quote below from the "Wikipedia" article about "The Man Who Would Be King," it can help us understand the theme many writers and movie directors are communicating through these works about people travelling abroad and becoming "kings":

The film follows two rogue ex-non-commissioned officers of the Indian Army who set off from late 19th-century British India in search of adventure and end up as kings of Kafiristan.

That quote seems to describe many a person living abroad, and I caution you, many a king or chief is taken out back and executed.

Enjoy yourself living abroad.

Andy Graham
Kara, Togo, West Africa, 2013 

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