9.01.2011

Tanzania Living

Happy Thursday readers!

I am ready for Friday and this holiday weekend to be here!  Today, on September 1, I bring you Student Teaching Guest Post #2 and this month's installment of African Aspirations.

Today's writer is my dear friend, Abena.  She and I were RA's together last year and grew to be quite close.  She is such an intelligent, kind person and also has the FUNNIEST personality!  I haven't seen her in a few months (except via Skype) so I loved reading this guest post about the time she spent living in Tanzania.  I hope you'll enjoy it too--not only does Abena's hilarious personality shine through, but she also shares a lot of really neat information about Tanzania, which I'm dying to visit!

Bonjour, y'all!

I'm Abena, ad I'm guest-posting for Allie today! Please bear with me* as I take you on an East African adventure to Tanzania while simultaneously trying to be witty and informative. *I've always been confused about this expression. I've never known whether it was "bare with me" or "bear with me". I'm going to go with the animal form, solely because "bare with me" makes me feel as if i'm asking you to disrobe with me, and nudity generally makes me very uncomfortable...I mean, bears do too I guess if they are the big brown/black kind that can kill, but i'm going for the fuzzy baby panda that you want to cuddle with. I'm all about that...but anyway.

Moving on... Tanzania is a beautiful country on the East Coast of Africa. Fun fact, the name is actually a hybrid of the two states that form the country: Tanganyika (the mainland) and Zanzibar (the sweet island off the about an hour off the coast). Just to give a little bit of background, my family moved to Tanzania in 2006, due to my father's job at the World Bank. Because of his job, my family has made the rounds to different countries. We hail from the (best) West African country of Ghana, but have also lived in Kenya, and the Ivory Coast, among other places. I was in boarding school at the time but was blessed to be able to spend 3 full summers and a couple of Christmas breaks there with the family. Its an interesting place. If you compare it with Kenya (adjacent East african country that also speaks Swahili as the national language), I would say Tanzania is definitely not as urbanized (I'm fairly certain that there may be more paved roads in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, than there are in the whole of Tanzania), but it gives the place a nice chill vibe.

We lived in the capital Dar es Salaam (arabic for haven of peace), in a house maybe a seven minute walk from the non so fancy beach (the nicer beaches took maybe thirty minutes to get to, but they are also more touristy). I'm not really sure how to go about writing about how life there was, so I'll highlight the really cool stuff with some pictures.
This is one of the beach resorts. We would take frequent beach trips as a family. We never stayed at any of them (they can get pretty luxurious), just had to walk through them to get to the beach and then maybe order some food from the bar haha (we always had a system though: wake up early and pack the cooler with food, drinks, and anything else we needed. frugality runs in my blood lol). Beach and Safari tourism is probably one of if not the biggest part of the economy in Tanzania (at least thats what my family contributed the most to haha). One thing I will note though is how strange it was to go on longer trips (to Zanzibar or the Serengeti, etc) sometimes and be the only Africans, or even black people there. You would sometimes forget that you were in Africa (Of course, the continent has a lot of ethnic diversity, but still. It was still a bit shocking to me). My family enjoyed a standard middle class life while in Africa, as do many Africans, but it doesn't change the reality of the fact that a lot of other people can't afford the simple pleasures that their own country provides.  
This is the view from one of the hotels that was pretty close to our house. We popped in for breakfast one day. This was actually over Christmas break, which I believe is the summer season over there. Something that people might not realize is that people in Tanzania were affected by the 2004 Tsunami that rocked the Indian Ocean. Like I said, Dar is right on the ocean front, and it sadly resulted in some deaths from the waves and destruction.
Here is a view from the airplane of Kilimanjaro. We flew over it when heading to Arusha. We (my brother, dad, and I) always said we were going to try and climb it, but anyone who knows me knows that I'm not in shape. Unless you count "round" as a shape--then I'm in the best shape of my life.
This is paradise. Just kidding. This is Zanzibar, the island off the coast that I mentioned before. It is absolutely gorgeous there..it's kind of ridiculous. This is an enormous tourist attraction, and for good reason. Not only are the beaches beautiful, but it is also the proud birthplace of Freddie Mercury, the flamboyant frontman of the band Queen. That's probably not surprising to anyone that knows that Tanzania was a British protectorate. Also, Mercury's family hailed from British India, and it is very evident that many Indians settled on Zanzibar and Tanzania, which is something I guess you wouldn't expect unless you'd been there or have read up on your history (I sure didn't know til I went)   But there are two sides to this island....
There is also Stone Town. Stone Town is the older part of Zanzibar city (the main city in Zanzibar) that got its name from the typical material used in construction there. You'll find lots of shops, markets, bazaars, and cool attractions there (including this slave memorial above), with a mix of Arab, Persian, Indian, African, and European architecture and influence. There is also a very strong Muslim influence, as evidenced by the beautiful mosques that could be seen. So it was always very interesting going from frolicking around the beaches in skimpy swimwear (well, mine wasn't that skimpy, I think I had irrational negative body image problems back in '06 when we went lol) to having to make sure that my shorts were of a certain length when walking around Stone Town, just out of respect and modesty for those living there. It's a pretty cool juxtaposition of circomstances I'd say!
This is a picture from Prison Island, one of the other islands off the coast of Zanzibar. I'm fairly certain it started as a prison island for rebellious slaves (Zanzibar was a huge port, especially during the slave trade days). Now they keep giant turtles over there. Yup. I think it's some sort of wildlife reserve.
This is the marching band at my little brother's school. My little brother is autistic, and it was quite a struggle to find the proper schooling for him while we lived over there. In a lot of countries, people don't even know what a disorder like Autism is, and thus dont know what to do with children who are living with it, which is extremely distressing to me. We were lucky to find a public school in Dar (which means that English isn't necessarily spoken regularly) that was trying to build a wing for children with autism and other developmental disorders and mental disabilities. My mom worked diligently to both get children who needed the help to and from school (which included persuading parents that a schooling environment would be beneficial) and help them raise money to get resources that would improve the teaching resources for the teachers and students that attended the school. The Band came in this day to support the students in our wing of the school!  
 Karaoke night. A regular occurance at Uncle Johnny's house. Look at that concentration. My clenched fist shows that I'm really feeling the music, haha.

 Okay. So though it looks and sounds like I lived a super exciting life while in Tanzania, All these pictures weren't everyday life. Because I actually lived there, most days were just spent at home, hanging out with the family, and chilling. I only got the tourist experience every so often (and it was usually when people who had never been came to visit us, lol). But all in all, it was an experience that I wouldn't trade for the world, and that has really opened my eyes to a different culture and lifestyle to the ones I'm much more familiar with, being Ghanaian and American.

Thank you, Allie for letting me share with all your awesome followers and the world wide web!

Cheers,
Abena

To read other installments of African Aspirations, click here.

Also, don't forget to start reading A Long Way Gone for Sundresses and Smiles's First Book Discussion!  For more information about the book discussion, click here.

Have a great day!

4 comments:

  1. Oh, I love this post! Abena, you are hilarious! Thanks for the informative post and for letting us know all about the tourist hot spots. It looks so beautiful over there!

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  2. I loved this post! Your experiences in Tanzania are great and I loved finding out all this information about the country!

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  3. What a wonderful blog. I love learning about different countries, and those countries and towns look beautiful. I would love to visit there sometime.
    Thank you for sharing Abena!

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  4. Wow, i really don't know anything about Tanzania but now I want to visit there!

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