Recent Posts

February 6, 2011

Wow, we’ve had a busy few days!  On Friday we spent 2 hours with Reverend John Magafu and colleagues discussing environmental justice issues facing rural Tanzanians in relation to the mining industry.  Tanzania produces many tons of gold each year, and is ranked 4th in Africa for the most gold production.  Additionally, Tanzania has other rare minerals and ores, some of which are found only in Tanzania — for example Tanzanite. Reverend Magafu and colleagues are not opposed to mining, but are seeking to draw attention to the disproportionately high cost rural populations are paying for increased health problems, loss…

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February 3, 2011

Wednesday the group came to our house again for unit house.  Each week we ask what the students would like on the menu. We consistently get the same answer – fresh fruit! The pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and bananas are tamu sana! (Very sweet).  We indulged in a vigorous debate about whether indigenous communities are naturally conservation-minded, discussed our views and perceptions regarding the previous day’s visit to WAMATA, and shared the developing ideas we each have for our individual final projects. Today after Swahili we were treated to a presentation by Pendo Omary, a host-sister to Lydia Yoder.  Pendo…

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February 1, 2011

In order to further explore the challenges and opportunities Tanzania faces related to education, poverty, and health care we visited WAMATA, a non-profit agency in Dar es Salaam which works to address issues related to HIV AIDS.  WAMATA is an acronym for the Swahili phrase “Walio katika mapambano na AIDS Tanzania,” which means “People in the Fight Against AIDS in Tanzania.”  It was the first HIV AIDS organization started in Tanzania and has been providing counseling, micro-finance programs, group meetings, health care advice, and HIV AIDS testing for residents of Dar. We were warmly welcomed by the WAMATA vijana dance…

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January 31, 2011

This morning we all made it to Swahili class without a hitch, this after getting home Sunday evening after a full weekend.  An impressive group.  Tom Meyers, the SST Director, arrived for a 3-day visit to Tanzania to check in on the program, meet with the Tanzania SST local coordinators, and to meet with the students.  And, to the delight of the students, with Tom arrived mail!  Thanks to all of you who sent a personal note and created the smiles seen below. This afternoon we received a presentation by Dr. Sumbai at the University of Dar es Salaam on…

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January 30, 2011

We spent the weekend in a small town about an hour north of Dar es Salaam called Bagamoyo.  Loosely translated it means “where I lay my heart down.”  There are many reasons to visit Bagamoyo, and we tried to take advantage of all of them: we enjoyed the beach, visited several interesting historical sites, and visited the Bagamoyo College of the Arts.  We left from town early Saturday morning and just returned this evening.  Here are a few more details. The beach: Bagamoyo is currently a village in which most residents make livelihoods from fishing.  Immediately in front of our…

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January 28, 2011

Yesterday afternoon Dr. Masebu, a historian from the University of Dar es Salaam, gave us a sweeping overview of the colonial period in Africa, with specific references to Tanzania.  He helped us understand the various political, social, and economic causes of colonialism, in addition to emphasizing that the African response to colonialism was varied, determined, and often proactive.  Tanzania received its independence in 1961 and other African countries, including Zimbabwe, Namibia, and S. Africa, achieved independence much more recently. This morning students arrived early at the church to take their first exam; of course a great time was had by…

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January 26, 2011

Last evening we were without electricity (an increasingly frequent challenge for residents of Dar es Salaam) and therefore we could not post to the blog. So here are two days worth of updates for the price of one! Yesterday the group attended a lecture at the University entitled “Indian Ocean Trade & Swahili Culture,” by Dr. Emmanuel Kessy of the Archaeology department.  Dr. Kessy impressed us with the long and varied history of global trade routes that have been documented, connecting Tanzania with Greece and Rome dating back to 40 A.D.   As early as the 1st century A.D., there exists…

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January 24, 2011

William Cronon suggests, “the instability of human relations with the environment can be used to explain both cultural and ecological transformations.”  Building on this theme, today we began a week and 1/2 exploration of the history of Tanzania, paying particular attention to connections between history and human/nature relationships.  We’ll explore these themes through three lectures this week at the University of Dar es Salaam given by professors in the history and archaeology department. Today we received a lecture on pre-colonial history in Tanzania by archaeologist Dr. Bertram Mapunda, who took us on a whirlwind tour beginning with human evolution more…

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January 23, 2011

Kigamboni Beach Weekend

This weekends’ pictures speak for themselves.  After a busy first week and a half, the students deserved some genuine respite and play.  We traveled by ferry to Kigamboni, a short distance across the Dar es Salaam harbor.  We slept, swam, caught up on reading, and took walks.  It was a refueling day.   Most students went to church with their host families on Sunday.  Donna, the kids, and I went to Sinza Mennonite Church for a lively service.

January 21, 2011

Swahili class today included some wonderful singing of Tanzanian songs, both gospel and secular.  in return, the students offered a hymn or two from the Mennonite hymnal.  Also as part of Swahili class, in small groups the students were asked to act out both inappropriate and appropriate cultural behaviors.   Remember to offer and receive gifts and greetings with your right hand, avoid smelling food at a host’s house (it suggests you are unsure of the food’s quality), and please remember to greet your elders with the customary shikamoo (I offer you my respect.) After class, we boarded daladalas from…

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