Monday, February 28, 2011

Black History Month - What's Your Story?

As February and Black History Month in Canada and the United States comes to an end, as well as my time here in Mwanza before leaving for Arusha, this is a good point to reflect on what this month means to me especially since I am in Tanzania, Africa.

Sometimes when you live your life through a Black lens, like what I do everyday, it's difficult to see things and people for what they are and who they are as human beings. If you didn't know me personally, it may seem that my life only revolves around my Black identity and who I am as a Black man in Canada. And to a certain extent it does.

I would bet the vast majority of people would say that I'm a racist for thinking and seeing the world the way I do.

On that note I would then ask, why do we as a society continue to see Black people as Black first and people second? Why do we continue to see and treat Black people and their, I mean our, history as something different?  Why are Black people seen as important for one month of the year, and for the other 11, no one really cares?

Tanzania has forced me to break my racist mould and realize that racial stereotypes, especially North American ones, are not universal. People don't care about their colour if they're suffering from malaria, worrying about having enough food to feed their children, or living day to day and are just happy to be able to see the sun shine every morning. Poverty, sickness and death do not care about the colour of your skin.

All that being said, being here in Tanzania has raised several questions about what I believe Black history to be, and what Black History Month in Canada represents.

Is Black History Month actually North American Black history, or Canadian, or just African-American history? What about Black people worldwide? What about Black people in the Caribbean, in Europe, in South America, in Africa. What about Tanzanian history - is that Black history, or just history?

It's interesting that in schools around Canada from February 1st to the 28th (or sometimes 29th), we pull out the same story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks or the Underground Railroad. By all means those stories are extremely important and I believe everyone should know them. But what happens if that's the only picture you get of Black people worldwide and their history?

What if one hundred years from now during Black History Month we only remembered Obama as the first Black president in the history of the world? What happens to the hundreds of Black presidents and prime ministers throughout Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean? If I was to ask for someone to name five Black presidents/prime ministers of any country in the world, dead or alive, how many people could do it? Has a Black woman ever been president or prime minister?

Writing this piece on Black History Month in Canada from Tanzania has given me the opportunity to take a look at who I am from a completely different perspective. Yes, I do feel that learning about Black people and their history is needed, and that Black History Month is a great opportunity to do so.

However, the world is much bigger than Canada. And Black history runs much deeper than just North America. But the beauty of living in such a multicultural society like Canada, is that we have Black people from all over the world that can share a little bit of their stories and respective countries' history.

And I don't think we should draw the line there. I think that every Canadian, doesn't matter what colour they may be, has the right to tell their story. Not only a right to tell it, but a right that everyone should listen to what they have to say.

Why? Because we can't have a country or world full of people like me. One full of racists. It's time to start working on the next generation of Canadians and citizens of the world that will break down racial barriers and keep them down.

You don't need to fly halfway around the globe to have an open mind and learn about the world. How about asking the person sitting next to you their story. Where are they from and what's that place like? They might be from a different neighbourhood, city, province, or country. Just ask and you will be surprised about how much you can learn from asking a simple question.

So I ask, what's your story?
 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Religious Tolerance

It's Sunday morning here in Mwanza, and I think it's a good time to talk about how tolerant of different religions this city is.

On any given Sunday I can wake up to a Christian preacher on a loud speaker who sounds like he's performing an exorcism.  On any given day of the week, and throughout the day too, I can hear Muslim prayers on loudspeakers from mosques throughout the city.  Throw in a few more loudspeakers, soundsystems, and modified dalla dallas blasting dancehall, reggae, Rihanna, cellphone ads, political rhetoric, and even sales for rat poison, this city is more than tolerant of pretty much anything with noise.

On a serious note, it's nice to see, especially coming from a Western country right beside the US, how Christianity and Islam can co-exist in harmony.  Not only can they co-exist, but everyone is free to practice/believe in what they choose - however loud they choose to do it too - and no one takes issue or is offended or feels that their beliefs are "better" than their neighbours.

I think it's time that I set up my own religious temple and test the Mwanza waters.  I'll call it Christopherism.  Services begin at 1pm Thursday afternoons and all are welcome.  Mountain Dew and pork will be served following the service.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Slow Week

Outside of adopting a White baby and the odd city wide demonstration (see Shannon's blog for pics) and missing my beloved pork, it's been a slow week for me here in Mwanza.

Shannon and I have just over a week left in Mwanza and we're wrapping up what needs to be done here and preparing for our trip (14-16 hour bus ride) and stay in Arusha.

Make sure to check out her blog for weekly updates on the ins and outs of the project.  See her link as well as the one for cstraining.ca on my blog.  Jump on the Box!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Adopted a White Baby

Now that I've gotten your attention, I have a few questions that I would like some feedback on:

If a Black Tanzanian were to find a job in Hamilton, Ontario (which has the highest child poverty rate in Canada) and adopt a White baby, wouldn't people wonder how that could happen?

If Denzel Washington flew throughout Europe and decided to collect a few White babies and give them a better life in the US, named them Leroy, LaDenzel and Sh'and're (with an accent on the e), wouldn't people wonder how that could happen?

What if I decided when I got home that I was so moved by the inter-racial adoption by White people in Tanzania adopting Black babies here that I decided to adopt an orphan from Vietnam or Iraq or New Zealand and raise him/her in my Black world and as a Black child, wouldn't people wonder how that could happen?

Better yet, wouldn't the child wonder who they were?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheap Food and Pork

One thing I love about this city is the food.  Not only do I love the food that I can get from pretty much anywhere and everywhere on the street, but it's cheap.  Not just cheap, but it's the kind of cheap that makes you wonder why you would ever leave.  Let me put it in perspective:

I can go to SAUT and get a big ol' plate of rice (wali) or pelau (pretty much like what we'd have at home, minus the chicken and pig tail) with beans, spinach, nyama ng'ombe (meat of cow) for a whopping total of 1000 TSH.  Throw in a Mountain Dew for 500 TSH to wash it down, and I've got a meal for a loonie and a dime.  Beat that KFC Toonie Tuesdays (which ironically cost three dollars plus and change now for a piece of chicken and a mouthful of bad tasting fries).

You can pretty much go anywhere and get a lunch and/or dinner for 3000 TSH or less for African food.  African food and the Mwanza diet staples being wali, pelau, ugali (which is a whiter and thicker version of cou-cou), with some samaki (fish), nyama ng'ombe, or kuku (chicken).  It took me a few weeks to discover these places to eat, and I'll admit I was hungry for that time, but spend a little bit of money and your belly will be full.  A full belly means a happy Christopher.

One thing I don't like is the lack of pork.  I know Mwanza and Tanzania have large Muslim populations that don't eat pork, and that even good ol' Christian folk have been taught that the pig is a "dirty" animal.  But man, I love me some pig.  Ham, pork shoulder, bacon, pig tail, I love it.

On a serious note on Black Identity across the Atlantic, I think that's the biggest difference I've noticed between Blacks in the Americas (especially the US, Canada, and the Caribbean) and Black Tanzanians with respect to culinary habits.  Black Americans love their pork and cherish it like it was God's gift (and their slave master's) to them.  I fit right in that category and would love me some wali na pig tail (rice and pig tail).

No, I'm not going to get into a lecture about how slavery and slave diets forced Black Americans to eat pork and the parts of the pig that White folks didn't want. 

Moral of the story:

Save a chicken and eat a pig.  Drink a Mountain Dew while you're at it.  Diet of champions and endorsed by Christopher Stuart Taylor (still waiting for that money, Pepsi!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sukuma Museum Photos

Yesterday we got the chance to go and see the Sukuma Museum about a half an hour outside of where we're staying in Mwanza.  The Sukuma is the largest tribe here in Mwanza region.









That is a Black Mary and Jesus.  Is Jesus really Black or was that just the White Missionaries trying to manipulate the Sukuma so that they would believe in their and the "right" God?  I'll save that one for another dissertation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lecturing at SAUT

Yesterday I was giving a great opportunity by the Vice Chancellor of Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT - pronounced Sow-Tee), the Dean of Academic Affairs, and the Head of the Sociology Department - Ludovick Myumbo, to deliver a two hour lecture on Black Identity for students and faculty.  The title of the presentation was: "Creating 'Blackness': Blacks in the Diaspora".  My main focus was to create dialogue with the students and faculty to share ideas about what it means to be Black in Tanzania, Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada.

I was particularly pleased and delighted with how well everyone was engaged in the topic and the insightful questions that made me really think about my own identity as a Black Canadian with Bajan roots.

I would like to thank everyone that came and for SAUT for arranging the lecture.  Special thanks to Mr. Myumbo and SAUT's Sociology Department.





Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Christopher Goes to a Football Match

Today we went to watch two of Tanzania's professional soccer (football) teams here in Mwanza: Toto Africa from Mwanza vs the defending champions from Dar es Salaam, Simba.

I'll admit that this was my first experience of watching live professional soccer (like I said in an earlier post, this trip is about a lot of firsts and trying things I wouldn't be interested in at home *insert camping here*). I'm not a big fan of soccer, but I'm a huge fan of sports and I respect the athleticism and fitness of soccer players.

The game was quite entertaining and I'd estimate about 10-15 thousand people filled about a third of the stadium. There were a few blown offside calls with shouts of corrupt officials (go figure), a fluke goal, water bottles pelted on the field, a clothed streaker who was also pelted with bottles, and by time we saw the police come out in full riot gear and tear gas, we knew it was time to go.

The match ended in a 2 - 2 draw.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Love Affair With Mountain Dew

This post is not about corruption, race, class, identity, or camping.  There will be no photos of any kind attached to it.  You won't learn anything important, new or relevant.  Why?  Because I love Mountain Dew.

Yes, Mountain Dew.  That green pop that I'm not even sure they still sell in Canada. 

My first experience of Mwanza was sitting in the taxi on the way from the airport and watching kids on bikes hanging off the back of a pickup truck advertising Mountain Dew.  There's a big ad push for it here through Pepsi to compete with Coke.  To put Coke and pop's dominance in perspective, it's actually cheaper to buy pop in this country than it is to buy water.  It's about 40 cents Canadian to buy a 300-350ml bottle of pop.  Go figure.

Back to my love affair with MD.

Pepsi can probably use me as the perfect example of how advertising works.  Mountain Dew has become my new hot chocolate.  If I was a drug addict, Zagaluu Shop across the street would be my pusher.  It quenches my thirst, it settles my stomach, and it calms my nerves.  Who woulda thunk that a green fizzy liquid could do all that?

To be fair, I also drink Fanta (Fanta black - grape - is my favourite) and Mirinda (Pepsi's version of Coke's Fanta).  Mirinda black is in close running for second to the first true love I have found in Tanzania - Mountain Dew.

Hopefully someone reading this works for Pepsi or knows someone that works for them and can get me an endorsement deal.  And find me a good dentist here in Mwanza.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hydro Part 3

I have finally gotten to the bottom of this hydro situation (well not me, but I heard the story tonight) here in Mwanza and Tanzania and I'll confess that it has nothing to do with the candle industry, but it does have to do with generators.  Throw in some corruption, deceit, and Americans (don't they usually go hand in hand anyways?) and you've got one irritated Canadian in Tanzania.

Long story short is that the Tanzanian government signed a contract deal with an American company that they would supply X amount of generators so that no Tanzanian would be left in the dark (with the lack of rain, the water levels are low and thus not enough moving through the dams to provide power to everyone). 

Long story shorter is that the American company wasn't a real company and the Tanzanian government had already paid them billions of Tanzanian Shillings (TSH).  When the government found out they were duped and tried to break the contract, the case went to an international court.  And guess who won?  The Americans.  Gotta love the legal system, eh?

Here's the twist:

The Tanzanian government still needed the generator contract and went for another American company.  Here's the even bigger twist: it was the same fake company that robbed them before but with a different name.

I hope I have all the details right and if I do the story doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?  How would no one in a government not just google the company and see if it was real?  The answer: corruption.  Clearly someone(s) knew and was being paid off by the American company.  To make matters worse, three government officials resigned over the situation (including the Prime Minister).  Hmmm, I wonder if anyone of those three got any money?

Both the American company and the Tanzanian government are at fault and who are the biggest losers?  The Tanzanian people who are paying for a service they rarely get.

Money is a beautiful thing, ain't it?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christopher Goes Camping

Yes, I went camping.  Yes, Christopher Stuart Taylor went camping and slept outside.  Stop laughing and read the post.

Our camping trip started Saturday morning with a dalla dalla ride to the bus station for our travels to Bunda Hill, which is about a 2-3 hour bus ride east of Mwanza.

All things considering, minus the man preaching over the loudspeaker for the first hour of the trip, it was a pretty reasonable ride. Passing through the Serengeti gates, I got to see my first zebra and wildebeest. It was from afar on a moving bus, but it was still pretty cool to see.

We got to Bunda and met with the owner of the campsite and piled into the back of his pickup truck. A sidenote about this truck. The back was covered, so some of us were huddled in the back just holding on as we drove 25 minutes straight up to the summit of the rockiest "hill" (ie mountain) I've ever seen. Safe to say our behinds were a bit sore, but at least we didn't have to walk.

So when I think about camping and a campsite, I think about a fire pit, a couple tents, singing songs and using a hole in the ground as a toilet. I have to thank Sophie for setting us up, and easing me into, camping in Tanzania.

If you know me, imagine everything I would want or ask for if I was to go camping:

Warm water: check.

Round the clock electricity: check.

TV: check.

A toilet and shower: check. And all in the tent: double check.

A wood framed bed with mattress, pillow, and nice linen: check.

Lunch, dinner and breakfast provided: check.

Good people: check.

The comforts of home up and behind God's shoulder blades: priceless.

There are two things wrong with what I just listed. I don't even have round the clock electricity, nor do I have warm water where I'm living in Mwanza.  But on the top of a hill (mountain) I could have a warm shower in my tent while I was camping. I couldn't even make this stuff up.

We still played card games, went on exploring and rock climbing adventures, played charades by the camp fire, drank wine (not me - I drank beer and pop. My Mountain Dew adventures are for another post), had spaghetti and tea (with milk) for breakfast and fish heads and fish fingers for lunch and dinner, and some of us (not me, thank you very much) ran into witch doctors in the middle of the night. I'd say it was a standard camping trip.

I would have to say that the bar has been set pretty high for my next camping trip. If that is what you call "roughing it", then I wonder what rent is like on a tent on a hill (mountain) in Tanzania?








Friday, February 11, 2011

One Month In

Time flies.

We're one month in our stay in Mwanza and it's already time to start thinking seriously about our trip and work in Arusha.  We've seen a lot, done a lot, and now that I'm really starting to feel comfortable here, it'll be March and time to say baadaye and move on.  Just like that.

At first I thought 4 and a half months was enough time to get things done, but considering we're splitting our time between Mwanza and Arusha (with a few weeks of travelling) and seeing how fast this first month has gone, there is a lot of work (and play) to do in the next 3 months.

Just letting everyone know that all is well here in Mwanza.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hydro Rant Part 2

This is not so much a rant, but an update on the hydro situation.

Now the power has been out at scheduled times.  If you have power during the day, make sure you charge all your stuff because you won't have power from 6-11:30pm.  If you don't have power during the day, you'll probably have it at night.

The kicker is that over the past couple days, the power has been out during the day and at night.  You might get a little reprieve early in the morning or in the afternoon, but not much.

I have a theory that it is the candle, generator, and oil industries here in Mwanza that are messing with hydro.  All the money being spent on generators, on gas for the generators, and for candles seems like good business to me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Dancing Rocks Photos






Yes, that child is sliding down a rock face on a bucket lid.  Outside of piki pikis (motorcycles), I think that's the most dangerous thing I've seen in Tanzania. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dancing Rocks

Yesterday we went to a place called Dancing Rocks here in Mwanza.  I think the photos speak for themselves.  Enjoy.






Friday, February 4, 2011

***Response to Class and Black Identity Post***

Here is a very intriguing and insightful response from a White Australian friend here in Mwanza to my Class and Black Identity Post from January 24th, 2011.  I've got a lot respect for people who are willing to put themselves out there like this and challenge their sense of self.  Read it.  Think about it.  Comment. 

Hi Chris,

This was a really thought-provoking post. As you know, I’m super interested in issues around race relations, ethnic minorities and racism. Your point about being defined first by your class and then by your colour intrigues me. Did you mean that YOU define yourself first by class, then colour? Or that Tanzanians do?

Ok, I think I’ll focus mostly on your last main paragraph which prompted this question: Are experiences of black and white ‘racism’ comparable? Whilst there may be some overlap, I think that to be a Black Canadian in (largely) White Canada and a White Australian in Black Tanzania is quite different.

It seems to me from things you’ve said (but correct me if I’m wrong) that to be black in Canada is to get a type of ‘look’, attention or sense that you are not supposed to be there? Or that they think ‘less’ of you. Would it be right to say that many white (and shockingly sheltered, ignorant) Canadians think that Black Canadians are out of place in ‘their’ country and…possibly even inferior? Again, I’m not sure if that’s an accurate take on the state of white/black relations in London, Ontario so feel free to amend away…

But if that is the case…then I think the type of differential attention we both receive on account of our skin colour is not really ‘equivalent’ across western and African cultures. I don’t know what it’s liked to be looked down upon for my skin colour or made to feel unwelcome. I can’t say I understand what it would be like (even after living in Tz) because quite simply I’ve never experienced it. So…I guess what I AM trying to say is that I’m not going to pretend like I can empathise with you. I do however; feel saddened and dismayed that in 2011 and in an ostensibly multicultural society, you still feel as though you are treated differently because you are black. How I wish that wasn’t the case (ditto for Aboriginal Australians and ‘African Australians.’)

So I want to try and elaborate on how being white in a black country might be different. I feel as though the attention I receive is not generally flavoured by condescension or coldness (although in my first 3 weeks here I was berated by a daladala driver in front of everyone in the bus because I couldn’t understand his fast, fluent Kiswahili. I wasn’t really made to feel inferior though…more like plain dumb!)

Typically though, I think that the harassment and the ‘mzungu’ thing probably stems from Tanzanians’ fascination or curiosity with white people. I get the feeling that they don’t often see wazungu here and it’s always a bit of an event when they do – especially once you venture out of the city centre.

I think the underlying reasons for differential treatment vary even if the outcome is the same. I can only speak for myself here but I would guess you feel uncomfortable when you feel stared at/unwelcomed? I feel similarly. Even if calling someone mzungu is a direct result of un-intentional ignorance, little exposure or education (and hey, that’s the best case scenario here) it still makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. To be a white female, I think – is even worse and garners you not just racial attention but inappropriate gender-specific harassment too. Like you talked about class first and then colour, I feel as though I’m seen as a mzungu first and a (white) woman second.

Whilst I can’t understand what it’s like to experience the type of racism specific to Black Canadians I think I can safely assume that you are not called ‘black person’ 27 times a day by just about any stranger you come into contact with (and sometimes by people you have met before too). Maybe I’m taking it a little personally, but there is something deeply offensive about calling, identifying and addressing someone solely by their skin colour. (I should probably point out, that I don’t mind when kids under the age of 5 or 6 do it cause I figure they know no better.) To call someone ‘black person’ is the closest thing I can compare ‘mzungu’ with. Also, the word mzungu was derived from the Kiswahili word ‘mzunguko’ which means to wander around and around aimlessly. I’m not sure about others – but I don’t like the confused, connotation that word brings, (granted I’m sure the first Europeans here probably seemed a little disoriented!)

Just as I don’t know what it’s like to have my skin colour thought of as ‘lesser’ you may likewise not be able to relate to incessant and frequent ‘mzungu’ calling. But what I’m saying is I don’t think we can ‘equate’ our experiences of racism when what constitutes that exact experience in either country varies. You were not necessarily arguing this –I just wanted to flesh out this point in more detail :)As for the long, drawn out stares I get (the kind where people’s eyes follow you until you are out of sight) – maybe that’s a point of commonality. It grates on me just about as much as the mzungu-ing.

---

My second reflection is this: I didn’t choose to be born white, just as you didn’t choose to be born black. We are what we are and we had no control over what family, continent or culture we were born into. Truth be told, if I were given a choice to be anyone, anywhere – I probably would have chosen to be Black and living in Europe or North America (but maybe not London, Ontario..somewhere a little 'blacker' or at the very least...mutli-cultural :). I’m not proud of being white because I don’t like what ‘we’ have done for much of human history.

I know I wasn’t there & had no part in the European invasion of Australia – but because of my skin colour (that uncontrollable, ever-visible, factor) Aboriginal Australians will always associate me with a brutal colonial past and an apathetic present. When Kinanga and I walk down the street and meet an Aboriginal person, they will always – without fail – greet him and ignore me. I don’t blame them – but their perception of me is something I feel powerless to change.

I hate the fact that on just about every continent, white people eroded and annihilated indigenous cultures. I’m appalled when I hear about the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade or that slavery in southern America was an acceptable part of a ‘progressive, modern’ society for so long. I am grieved that just about every black culture on the planet has been adversely impacted by white rule. I’m ashamed when I hear of white people of all ages and socio-economic levels, who still think less of black people and in a million not-so-subtle ways, convey this sense of inferiority or condescension.

I’m horrified when I think about what evils such a belief unleashed on Europe in 1945 or on black South Africans for the greater part of the 20th century. I’m afraid when I hear about the activities of neo-nazi’s in post-modern Germany or that the KKK is alive and well in the States. I don’t want to be a part of an ethnic group that thinks they have unique claim to the best standard of living in the world and that everyone else can just go and jump; or that to be white… is to be morally superior or more deserving of life, health and happiness.

So no, I’m not proud to be white. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I have received because I was born into privilege - but by the same token, I feel sadness and shame that others – on account of their skin colour & place of birth – may not be so lucky. Co-incidentally that’s part of why we’re here :) But I’ll leave that post for another time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dereva na Mwalimu Pics

My best Mr. Taylor (senior) impression

If it wasn't for the jeans, you'd think I was a student

Dereva

I also have to say thanks to Shannon for taking this pictures.  Asante sana, Shannon.

Christopher the Mwalimu (Teacher)

Teaching at Mtoni Secondary School

Being at Mtoni was great.  I mean a brief visit and introduction turned into a two and half hour discussion/lesson, but I learned a lot from the students and I hope they learned just a little bit from me.

The plan was for Shannon and I to go to Mtoni and introduce ourselves and what we're doing here in Mwanza.  Mtoni (Mwanza) and Clarke Road (London) are sister schools and have had a partnership for a few years.

The first class we visited was a Form 4 (the highest Form for 14 and 15 year olds) science class with about 60 students.  Not only were there 60 students, but they only had desks for about 25-30.  Two to a desk was the norm, three was not unusual, and some students even had to use their textbooks or laps as makeshift writing spaces.

Albert, the assistant Headmaster, told us that there are about 1000 students and only 14 teachers.  Understaffed, but the teachers are dedicated and work hard at what they do.

After the usual introduction and telling the students that I'm from Canada, in every class I was in, I got the same question: "how are you from Canada?"  One student couldn't grasp the concept that I wasn't Tanzanian and that because I was Black, my roots and ancestry had to be from Tanzania.  Instead of giving a long winded explanation, I decided to ask for some chalk and give a brief history lesson on the Slave Trade, colonialism, and immigration to Canada.  Basically giving the background of how Black people - not just me and my family - came to live in the Americas.

Not many people know where Barbados is (funny because I saw a man in the gym today wearing a Barbados shirt), and since Rihanna and Drake's "What's My Name" is so popular here, I used both of them to situate and highlight my Canadian and Barbadian roots.  Go figure that one  of the most popular songs out here in Mwanza is from a Bajan and Torontonian.

Good news is is that I've been invited back to do a series of formal lessons to each class at Mtoni.  I'll be gearing my discussions (because I'm learning just as much from them as they are from me) to the age level and level of english competency.  English is first taught in Form 1, while Form 4s have a much better, and often fluent, grasp of the language.  More visual aids for the younger students, and much more in depth conversation and analysis for the older pupils.

One big thing I learned about our Canadian society is how small minded we are.  We assume that everyone knows about Canada/North America.  Our way of life, our culture, our history.  Things like "there are Black people in Canada? And how did they get there?" seem like such stupid and asinine questions.  But say we flipped the script and I was to ask a Canadian where Tanzania was or what language they speak, I think we'd both realize we have a lot to learn from each other.

Maybe I should become a teacher like my sister, my mother, and my father.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Photos

Margaret (our housekeeper) and her mother in Igoma

Tunza Beach, Mwanza at Sunset

Students on break from Mtoni Secondary School

Stanley and I warming up for 2-Ball-Football (I'm in the red shirt)

View from our balcony of the Mlango Moja used clothes market (ever wondered where your old Jordans ended up?)

Another Photo (Finally)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Christopher the Dereva (Driver)

Today was my first day driving in Mwanza, Tanzania.  I say first day because I have a feeling that I'll have another chance to drive before I leave for good.

Here's a little bit of background on the driving situation here in Mwanza:

- There is one stop light in the whole city.

- There are four (I think) roundabouts.

- Cars are right hand drive and are driven on the right side of the road (like in the UK).

 - And last but not least: there are no rules of the road.  Just don't hit anyone or anything, which is easier said than done.  (I exaggerate that last bit, but it seems like you can pretty much do whatever you want on the road.  Mind you, I have seen police pull drivers over.)

After our trip and meeting about the land with the Mamas (which I will write in detail in my next post), Stanley offered to let me drive his car.  Me being me, I didn't want to turn down this opportunity (that's pretty much my modus operandi for this trip).

He asked if I could drive, and I said yes.  It was a white Suzuki, which reminded me of the Suzuki Celerio I was driving in the summer in Barbados but a lot bigger.  I got in the driver's seat and went about my way.

The market road in Mabatini is interesting.  It's a dirt road with craters, not potholes, craters (pretty much the same of most unpaved roads here in Mwanza.)  And there are people, piki pikis (motorcycles), and cars going in all directions.  The key is to not fall in the open sewers or hit someone.

I managed to make a right turn (left turn in Canada) to get on the main road, drove about a km or so, made another right and then we were back at the apartment.  Nothing special.

Shannon was pleasantly surprised at how well I drove, but after jam busting (sp?) and driving through cane fields in the pitch black of night in Barbados or without ABS and traction control on ice and snow in London, I'm a pretty confident driver.  Plus, I love driving.  Here in Mwanza you just need to be hyper aware of what's around you, or what's going to jump in front of you, at all times. 

No texting and driving in this city.