My Love for #Tanzania
I had always longed to visit Tanzania for as long as I remember. While in primary school, we had a number of students from Tanzania in the boarding section and they used to go back home only once a year, for the Christmas holiday. Their parents rarely showed up on visitation day but somehow, they never ran out of grub – granted by the end of third term the hard corn tasted like small stones with a faint scent of Protex or Lifebuoy soap, it sure made Saturday morning porridge interesting after it got a good soak in the porridge, making the porridge taste salty and well, hygienic. Oh the good times…
I also found their Swahili very different from the Kenyan students’. It was more… Exotic. I was quite fascinated, I wanted to see where they came from.
Last year, I made it a point to visit Tanzania. I pored over the information I found on the internet and books about Tanzania for weeks before I left. I planned to go to Arusha, Moshi and Dar es Salaam. The Thorn Tree Forum on Lonely Planet became my favorite place to read about other travelers’ adventures from “The Soul of Africa”, Tanzania’s slogan.
For my maiden visit to Tanzania, I didn’t have the means to plan a safari after all Tanzania is home to the Big Five and the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro rising above the Serengeti. I just wanted to live with a Tanzanian family; learn their ways, eat their food…
Thank God for AirBnB – a hospitality exchange service for people to list, find, and rent lodging. This is one of the many ways to travel like a local. And that is how I found my host Godwin who lives with his parents in a beautiful home in a village located near Tengeru in Arusha,Tanzania.
We corresponded through AirBnB for about a week, getting to know Godwin and his family felt like I was chatting with my favorite long lost relative and I could not wait to get to Arusha.
I had been in Nairobi, Kenya for a few days after my adventure in Naivasha. I was ready for something new, something unknown. Boarding the Riverside shuttle for Arusha, everyone was communicating in Swahili!
Early last year, Tanzania became the first country in the sub-Saharan Africa to use an African language – Swahili – as the medium of instruction from primary school to university level thereby ditching English. While before that, students in primary were taught in Swahili with English as part of the curriculum and at secondary school level and all the way up to university, the learning process was reversed – with English becoming the medium of instruction which left the students confused and not quite fluent in either language. Hence the abolishment of English.
I understand very little Swahili; actually, I understand a bit of Kenyan Swahili than Tanzanian Swahili. I plan on taking a few classes so I can express myself in Swahili in the near future.
Every time I was addressed to in Swahili my brain would go into overdrive, pick one word from the entire sentence, just assume the question and reply in English. One elderly gentleman was concerned, he asked me in English; “Are you so ashamed of your roots that you won’t reply in Swahili?”
“I’m so sorry. I’m Ugandan.” I apologized profusely. Everyone in the bus laughed.
“That explains it,” he said. He went to tell everyone…
“Swahili was born at the Tanzanian coast, bred inland Tanzania, it got sick in Kenya and it died before it crossed into Uganda.”