Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hakuna Matata, Rafiki

My first day here in Tanzania, someone told me “hakuna matata” and I realized I knew more Swahili than I thought.  I always try to learn some basic (and helpful) phrases from wherever I happen to be, and it has been particularly easy here in Tanzania (or at least, easier than it was in South Africa, where there are 11 official languages).  If you have seen the Lion King, you already know some Swahili: simba (lion), rafiki (friend), hakuna matata (no worries).  Swahili also uses a lot of words from other languages (I have already founds words that are the same or almost the same in Zulu, Spanish, and Arabic), which makes it easier to pick up on words people are saying.  I am starting to wish I had actually studied it when I was going to Iowa instead of just joking about it.

Hakuna matata is such a wonderful phrase (please excuse the terrible Lion King reference).  I think it perfectly describes the mentality of the people in Tanzania, and it is amazing.  People really do not get worried about anything here, and they are constantly telling you “hakuna matata” and “pole pole” (slowly slowly).  It is completely different from the Western mentality of hurry through life and constantly worrying about everything.  There are certain things I think it is good to worry about (like when I first got here and had no way of getting any cash in a cash only country), but I think I have quite fallen in love and in synch (at least as much as I ever will) with the hakuna matata mentality. 

Hakuna matata; peace and love

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rude Boy

Africa loves Rhianna.  Like, insane amounts of love.  I was never the biggest Rhianna fan, but after spending a few months in Africa, she will definitely have a special place in my heart.  Every day I hear “Oh na na, what’s my name?  Oh na na, what’s my name?”  at least 178 times.  No joke.  And if we hear part of the song, everybody (or at least the volunteers) join in to have a sing a long to finish the song.  Rhianna is like a god here. 

(And since everyone here loves her so much, we are going to make a video of the kids dancing to one of her songs ((we will try to find one that is at least kind of appropriate for kids to dance to)) and then have the kids write her a letter.  Then, when I get back to the States, I am going to send it to her.  And Ellen.  I will let you know how it all turns out.) 

Rude boy is not only the name of a Rhianna song, but it is also how some of the boys here act when they want to dance with you.  Here, like in Chile, I am foreign and exotic, and boys want to dance with what is foreign and exotic.  However, there are a couple of differences between the boys here and the boys in Chile.  First, the boys in Chile would always ask if I wanted to dance.  When I would tell them I can’t dance or that I don’t dance with other people they would be very persistent, pointing out that I had just been dancing with another person and it was going rather well.  So, after I was suckered into dancing, they would actually dance with me, spinning around and moving around.  Not just grind their junk on my leg. 

Here, nobody asks you to dance, they just creep up behind you, like the rude boys they are.  Saying no thanks doesn’t work well; they will just keep dry humping your ass.  And most of the dancing is just bumping and grinding.  (I quite enjoy going out dancing with the people from Peace Matunda though.  They aren’t quite so rude and they are just a fun group to be around.)  Everybody loves dancing though, and there is dancing going on all day to accompany the daily activities.  And a night out of dancing will last all night and well into the morning (much like Chile).  It’s amazing and I love it.

I am seriously going to miss the dancing from Chile and Tanzania, and I am not sure what I am going to do when I go back to Iowa and there is nowhere to dance after 2AM and nobody wants to dance with me because I am not foreign and exotic. 

Currently listening to the song Bongo Flava.  My friends should probably prepare themselves to be terribly annoyed by this song and me dancing to it all day long when I come back.