“When Mamadou told me there were no debts between us, sweeping up the pieces of his broken drinking glass, he meant the kind of debts we talk about in the West—quantifiable debts, to be paid by a certain date, with penalties attached. African hospitality must forgive the broken glass, but he also wanted to remind me that my social obligation still stood. As the wealthier friend, I was obligated to help him when he needed it.”

My essay in The Walrus is now available online.