Friday, May 6, 2011

Back in Canada

Well, folks, my Tanzanian adventure has come to an end and I'm back in Canada (for now at least).  I would first like to say thank you to everyone for reading my blog, but also to let you guys know that I'm going to keep on posting with my thoughts and photos of wherever I am in the world.  This is a little window into my life, so keep on reading!

I will also be using my blog as a way to digest my thoughts.  I've seen a lot, I've done a lot, I've been through a lot while I was in Tanzania, and I now have a chance to let all those things settle in my brain and in my life.

No, I'm not some new person, but I do have a different perspective on a lot of things.  In a previous post I said I was going to talk about my position on Mzungus, and to be honest, it hasn't changed.  I've met some great White people in Tanzania and I've met some self-righteous idiots and ignorant bigots - and I can say the same about people I've met regardless of their colour.

But I will start my debriefing with this point: I do not tolerate racism of any kind.  I don't have the time nor the patience to deal with racists, ignorant racism, institutional racism, economic racism, careless racism, racism against Blacks, (Mwafricas), Whites (Mzungus), against Indians (Mhindis), against Chinese (Mchinas), against anyone and by anyone.

I'm not on some crusade to save the world, but there's absolutely no place for racism.

For the first time in my life I was invisible.  I could walk anywhere and be anywhere and I was "one of them".  I won't lie, it felt great and it's a position that I want to go back to.  And that doesn't have to be in Tanzania.

But on the flip side, because of my colour I was still subject to racism - in Tanzania.  I was questioned and nearly denied access to a beach resort because I was Black, and this was by Black security guards.  Walking with White people it was a running joke that I was their guide or "rent-a-dread".

I've seen White people harassed for money and verbally assaulted because of their colour.  I've seen Whites and Indians assault Black Tanzanians simply because they were Black. 

I've seen real Black or "African" stereotypes.  I've seen scenes straight out of "Blood Diamond" or "Out of Africa".  I've seen abject poverty right next to mind blogging wealth.  And I've seen how racism and discrimination is a huge barrier to how we in Canada and the West see Tanzania (and arguably the "Coloured" World).

Racism is no longer about calling someone a nigger or a paki or a mzungu.  It has evolved and will keep on evolving.

More thoughts to come.


  1. Being so visible while I was in Tz with you was eye opening (literally).

    You teach that Black was created to justify/facilitate the slave trade.

    Racism 2011 has the same effect - creating arbitrary boundaries around groups and building walls between them.

    It sounds simplistic and idealistic, but why can't we see people as human, first? We have a whole lot more things in common than we have differences.

  2. Chris, I look forward to your debrief now that you have returned home. I've really enjoyed following your blog and am particularly interested in your reflections on racism given your research.

    I'd be interested in your reflections on power dynamics in the various relationships you described and what socially ascribed power is in place in Tanzania. You gave good examples of dynamics between a few groups. Your thoughts on the intersection between racism, poverty and HIV/AIDS would also be of interest.

    Looking forward to reading more and getting together soon.

    Bob Gough