4 August 2006

Learning continues

After few more days and I have not got glue where to start. So many things are taking place here. I was just taking almost one hundred photos from a demonstration against Israel’s actions in Lebanon and Palestine. Surely some of those will be online in few weeks. I have just filled my memory card for the first time so I had to come to the internet cafĂ© to save them so I can start from the beginning.

Yesterday was a nice day. I had a long walk, first to the village nearby entertaining the kids with my camera and generally just by looking different and then later on to the University campus. I have been staying so far outside of Dar es Salaam, as I mentioned in my earlier piece and as I am moving to the town centre tomorrow so I decided to spend yesterday just to get to know the not so urban side of the capital area. It is a beautiful place and everyone has been very friendly. Here it always ends with asking for a donation but most of the time it is reasonable and if for instance I have been taking pictures of the family and their yard, of course I want to show my appreciation. I must say that an exception to this rule took place the other day at the fish market where a homeless person demanded $10 for already taken picture and it was not even about him. I did not give him that, actually much less, but definitely enough to buy food which was his objective. I told him that I eat big lunch in a restaurant back home with that money. But you cannot blame the one who is asking but the one who is giving. I suppose for him it was worth the shot and surely someone will give him that money.

Yesterday walking from the village to the University of Dar es Salaam I realised how laid back the area is. Even the town centre is, although very busy, extremely safe. People are greeting me happily all the time and unlike in Cape Town there is no tenseness to mention of. I do not have to look over my shoulder more than anywhere in the world and it feels quite relaxing for a change. It is not only me either, but I feel that the local people are doing the same thing.

The definite downside of this country is the poverty. People really do not have all that much in general, which is the reason why they often ask for help and it is quite heart breaking at times. The first noticeable difference with Dar es Salaam and South Africa is that the wealthy side is not visible. In Cape Town when you are sitting in a minibus taxi packed with seventeen passengers in the traffic lights next to you is a big brand new expensive air-conditioned car with one person driving it. Here you do not see the rich people that often and there are no townships as such as shacks are more or less everywhere. This is not the most in-depth analysis of the country and its conditions, I know, but it is a view after the first few experiences.

Tanzania is a Swahili speaking country and this actually is my first time in one after taking a tattoo in the language. It only occurred to me the other day actually which is why I mention it. But here the language thing is very different to even Kenya. Here it is not only the main one but it is the most dominant language of communication. English is spoken commonly but the level of it is closer to Mozambique (which is a Portuguese speaking) than for instance Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana or many others. The country has 120 local languages and Swahili is actually a kind of umbrella language, kind of like the Tsotsi – or Township Taal in Soweto, which is understood by practically everyone regardless of their first language. I have been talking a lot with hands and felt like an idiot at times for not being able to communicate in Swahili and i have used all of my vocabulary so many times over and over again. Unfortunately it only covers the small talk. I must say though that somehow people can communicate if they so want even with very few common words.

I have been talking about the accommodation already but I do not think I mentioned that I am staying in a same guesthouse where the leading Tanzanian football team Dar es Salaam Simba sports club is having its training camp. I may be going to see their match tomorrow if everything goes smoothly.

Another short note is that I have officially had the best instant coffee ever over here. Locally produced and without any chemicals, the Afrocafe is something to take a sample home.

Last thing for now is that I was watching the TV the other night at the guesthouse and was sickened by the fact that VOA (Voice of America), the United States government propaganda broadcaster to poorer countries, was on. In USA their programming would be against constitution as far as I have understood as it is only representing the agenda of the government but unfortunately other countries that do not have the resources to produce their own programming, especially when I heard that in Tanzania less than one per cent of the households have TV, are often showing their freebies. After watching it a bit I felt that I was being hit in my head with a bible and hard. Not exactly a free media but the one to keep people down in certain areas and to promote the values of the free market Babylon as they were the only and the absolute truth.

That is the rant. Until next time.

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