7 August 2006

Books and general mutual respect

Six days, of which few not feeling very good, and five hundred photos into my trip in Tanzania and I can safely conclude it to be one of the more hectic ones in my life. It is strange how after all these years, every time I make the same mistake of arriving somewhere hot and humid and start off by walking around for as many days as it takes for my body at each time to tell me to slow down. Maybe the next time I remember. To be honest it is highly unlikely.

I have been back in full effect again and today I did some book shopping. It was funny to notice that the fiction section in the bookshops was very small when practically almost every book on the shelves was somehow educational. I have never been a particularly big fiction reader, well seven years ago I was not very big reader full stop, but in comparison to the shops back home or in the UK this was quite nice change. Another thing that I was surprised about was that here people on the streets are selling books just like they sell souvenirs or newspapers. That was quite cool but I must also acknowledge that most books would be too expensive considering a local cost of living and the standard income. Maybe the school books are the exception and those seemed to be the ones mainly sold on the street.

I bought myself few books that I am about to start reading tonight. One of them is called “Africa from the nineteenth century to present – a History teachers’ handbook”. The title is rather self-explanatory and I am curious to learn how the history is taught here. All parts of the book are written by African writers and the book is published by Tanzanian Institute of Education so it should have a different angle than some of the more Euro-centric histories. It is left for my own judgment to decide what is real and what is not just like with everything. I would like to remind at this point that I do not believe in the truth as such because everything is just someone's interpretation of various facts. Just like my opinion is consisted of the things that I know and the way I put empahisis on each one of them.

Another one was a book about Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the father of the nation in Tanzania and his visions for the society and the last one is a study of the mass communication as a part of the development in Tanzania. That I will use for my university purposes as although it is about Tanzania and my study is based in South Africa but it was Nyerere and his government who facilitated the South African liberation movements (ANC and PAC) during the struggle so there may be some connections on that level and even if not, at least it is interesting and some general points about the media in African society probably will be made.

It must also be mentioned that staying in the UK, I can only dream about the people in general knowing anything, or even being bothered to pretend to be interested about, where I come from. Once a university lecturer asked me "where actually is this Finland?" (those were the actual words and I will never forget them) and on my first year I had to convince a highly educated person that Finland is a part of the EU. Here the first question is often something like “Helsinki or Tampere?”. Considering that not even many Swedish people can name two Finnish cities/towns it warms my heart. Finland and Tanzania are truly marafiki – Swahili for friends. Well at least on the government level but I must say that I do not know how many Finns could name even one city or town, or anything for that matter about Tanzania. There is no crime in that. All I am saying is I enjoy the mutual respect that I am experiencing here.

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