Experiences from Tanzania: I can bargain in my limited Kiswahili
07 Oct 2015
It has been already two months on this lively and colourful country of Tanzania. Time has gone so fast, I have been learning and discovering new things. I think the first month was just about me understanding a bit of this so different life compared to what I am used to in Europe. Before coming here to Dar es Salaam (Port of Peace) the three months felt like a long period of time, but after being here, I now start to feel that time is running out and I have only seen a tiny bit of what there is to see and experience. I think the assimilation of these different senses has stolen the time, time has somewhat vanished. I would happily spend another three months here seeing and discovering more.
The traffic is crazy, it never ceases to amaze me. “Why did the chicken cross the road” rings so true in Dar, when new in town, one actually feels like a chicken, it is a mean task to cross the roads – at least it feels like one to me. Traffic is busy and at a first seems really chaotic, but in chaos there is also some order. When you have been here for awhile, you soon become part of the chaos, and you start to see the order leading to easily adapting and surprisingly quick. Though the traffic is busy (except during the omnipresent traffic jams), other things happen much slower. Sometimes it might be quite frustrating and takes lot of patience to just wait for things happen. For some people and especially me, this suits me well, but “busy as we are”, at first it was annoying to always be waiting for something or someone while you yourself were on time.
My arrival here coincided with changes in the direction management of both Vikuruti farm and Goig, so the bureautic process has taken a long time and requires some patience and creative use of time. I haven’t been able to work within Vikuruti farm as yet, but have been in contact with the occupational therapist there and things seem to be progressing well. In the meanwhile as we have been waiting for things to move on at the farm, I have been busy working at Goig on different tasks including doing a lot of creative work with the team here and working with Beatrice Shiayo the acting director. At Goig I started as a sewing teacher with a group of girls, who study dressmaking. My teacher on the subject does not speak english, so the beginning was quite challenging including learning to communicate without a common language. After couple of weeks I have improved on my swahili and I am gradually settling into my new adventures. This immersion into the language definitely accelerated my uptake of Kiswahili. Besides the teaching, I have started jewelry production at Goig, first as a student on the subject and after with planning the packaging and presentation for the Goig shop down at Slipway shopping complex. It has been interesting to be involved with the whole process from the beginning of the production to the sales and marketing. Depending on how much time I have at Goig, I just might try my skills on weaving and batik making.
I must confess I have learnt a lot within my short stay in Tanzania. Communication with a new language – Kiswahili, multicultural work with people from all over the world – right now I am living with a French and Finnish girls and working with Tanzanians, Kenyans and Germans. Staying here has also taught different skills to cope with a new environment. After these two months I am now able to manage using the local transport (daladalas, bodabodas etc.) and I am definitely better at bargaining and getting good prices at the local markets.
What I most love in Tanzania is the people here. They have a very welcoming and warm attitude towards people everywhere one goes – be it on the streets, shops, restaurants etc. It is this kindness from people to people , even from the strangers, that makes it all the worth the while. Rush, haste and individualism hasn’t yet taken over. Greetings and getting to know people takes a long time and before getting on to the subject matter, people want to know how you have been and wish you well. Here people really take care of each other and the society and family means a lot.
Something that surprises me most is this total acceptance towards diversity. I personally haven’t felt any discrimination towards me, against me, even being foreigner (if one doesn’t count the mzungu prices as a form of selective discrimination). Here you can meet people from several religions or tribes, and this does not affect the way people relate. They all are people and it doesn’t matter where you come from or belong to. I think the acceptance towards each other is something we can all learn from Tanzania and Tanzanians should hold on to.