Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things You'd Never See in Canada

Here's a very incomplete list of things I've seen since being in Mwanza that you'd never see in Canada:

- Open sewers
- Random garbage dumps in front of homes and businesses
- People riding motorcycles without helmets
- 3 people riding one motorcycle
- Kids working.  I mean children as young as 4 or 5 putting in an honest and hard day's work.
- Kids in school uniforms
- Kids respecting their elders, no matter how much older they may be
- Dalladallas (I think the correct spelling is with one 'L', but I pronounce it like "ball")
- Modified Dalladallas with speakers tied to the roof
- People riding on the back of pick up trucks
***I saw a boy (no more than 10) fall off the back of one of those trucks, get his faced dragged on the pavement for a few metres, get back up and just dust himself and walk off.***
- People selling anything and everything
***I saw a man yesterday nearly stab another man with a pair of sewing scissors because he supposedly stole his customers (me and Shannon) when trying to sell a bus ticket to Arusha for 33,000TSH (about 20-25 CDN dollars)
- People working 12 hours a day - 7 days a week
- Women taking newborn babies to work and still putting in 12 hours a day - 7 days a week
- Stray dogs
- Stray cats
- Stray goats
- Stray chickens
- Friendliness
- Music playing all the time.  When I say all the time, I mean morning, noon, and night

And I think one of the biggest things I've noticed is that people are happy no matter what their life situation is like.  When life throws them a lemon, they don't make lemonade; they throw it back and say I'm happy with what I've got already.


  1. Things you've missed in Canada that are quite often visible ha ha:
    - people riding motorcycles without helmets
    - kids in school uniforms
    - kids respecting their elders
    - friendliness
    - music playing all the time (you didn't live in a university residence)

    I think that people are more alike then you make it out to be. I understand that the circumstances are different between the two countries but at the core of it all, we all are human- we all look for happiness, laughter, love, music in every situation.. we all have pride, egos, and hardships. So I think that you're missing a lot of commonalities that make us who we are and are focusing on a lot of surficial things (I know that word is out of context, but I mean that you're only scratching the surface).

    On the side: You know I luv ya and had to challenge you :)

  2. You're definitely right about only scratching the surface, and there are a lot of commonalities between Canadians and Tanzanians because we are all human beings. But this post was tongue in cheek especially if you've been following what I've been posting from when I got here. (Check out what I just wrote on Black History Month, or Class and Black identity, or "Why?", or Moja Watu - "One People", or just read everything, lol)

    But to take up your challenge and go a little deeper, I would argue that how most people define hardship and happiness in Canada is completely different. The fact that we have social safety nets - old age pensions, benefits, vacation, unemployment, etc.; free primary and secondary education; a minimum wage; accountable governments (check my posts on hydro); a police force that actually protects people; safe drinking water; free healthcare (in Ontario at least); defined and abided laws; and the list can go on.

    I think the fact that people can, and do die, from things that are easily preventable - ie not having the basic necessity of clean drinking water, sets a completely different foundation between Tanzania (Mwanza) and Canada (Ontario). And no one here should drink the water, but people do because they have no choice.

    The vast majority of Canadians aren't happy because we always want more. The vast majority of Tanzanians (Tanzanians in Mwanza at least) are happy because they have something.

    And to clarify on those points:

    - It's the law to wear a helmet in Ontario.
    - All school children here wear uniforms (and have their heads shaved - boys and girls)
    - Kids must greet their elders with "shikamoo" or they will be publicly shamed (which happened to me my first few weeks here)
    - When's the last time you said hello and had a conversation with a stranger walking down Yonge Street or had dinner with your next door neighbour?
    - Yup, and I did live in a university residence for two years at UWO. And I know for a fact that they take noise complaints very seriously. Read my post from January called "Gym and Music" about Caribana trucks passing right infront of my bedroom.

    I'm not one to back away from a challenge, and I like the fact that you're reading my blog and taking note and commenting ;)

  3. with the expection of the working kids and women working with infants that sounds like Antigua, yeah lets say most small Caribbean islands. Its nice how we are not so different