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Reisverslag More than I wanted to know...
17 oktober 2007
More than I wanted to know...
The same feeling I had before I left to Africa, when someone close to me told me some private problems about their relationship, and I wasn't to let the partner know I know. But they are both close to me, and I just didn't want to know.
I found a nice poem about this:
Tell me no secret, friend,
My heart will not sustain
Its load, too heavily
On my mind to weigh.
Involve me not, friend
Make not of me a mute.
Like a labyrinth
The road from my heart
Winds round and round,
Yet leads to an avenue -
The boulevard of speech.
Tell me no secret, friend,
To you I'll still be true
For you I'll fight
No matter where -
But make not a mute of me.
(Francesca Yetunde Pereira)
Yet, at the same time I realize I'm sometimes 'sharing' things that not everone wants to know. Or needs to know. So I am going to try to write a little less private. Instead I shall try to write a bit more about Tanzania and the city I live in.
ABORTION. Although abortion is illegal in Tanzania, it is quite easy to get one. Most hospitals will perform one, for quite reasonable prices too. Cathy paid 60.000 Tsh. for hers. She got a discount because she knows the doctor. The normal price is 80.000 Tsh. (about $64,-). She had bad luck though, after the operation she never stopped bleeding. When she, finally, went back to hospital, they kept her for 4 nights: dislocated uterus. Someone else I know had an abortion too. She paid 75.000 Tsh. No complications there luckily.
CRIME. Is abundant at the moment. I have been targeted three times now. Pickpocketed at posta busstation, attacked and robbed in the street and someone broke into my house. All these times I was partly to blame myself: posta because of the time of day - take extra care, robbed because I was walking alone at night - you just can't, and my house... I knew my door wasn't safe. That is me, but almost everyone I know has been a target at least once this year, so it is not just me. No, there is a lot of crime for sure. The first two times I was a victim I reported it to the police. Not a very inspiring experience. A lot of policemen at the station. No computers, everything handwritten. Then they give you a piece of paper with your casenumber. Come back tomorrow. For what? To inquire! So I did after I was robbed. I asked the officer if he had any news. "No", he said "you?".
And this time they actually had a name and description, one of the guys who helped me had seen my attackers and had recognized one of them. But it seems the police don't leave the office much. In the street I see trafficpolice (the city is jammed every morning and afternoon), I reguarly see escorts to governmental cars and I've seen police on the scene each time the crowd caught a thief in the street. Apart from that not so much. I bet even the Dutch police beats the Tanzanians when it comes to crime solving (the Dutch police has one of the worst crime-solving rates in Europe).
The reason for the increase in crime lately is simple. The government decided to close and destroy many illegal small shops and cleared some areas from streetvending. The people who thus lost their livelyhood are scattered over the city and oftentimes resort to theft and robbery. The same thing happened last year. And again the government failed to offer alternatives or solutions.
HIV. Someone wrote in her web-log how she was surprised to see how much publicity there is in Tanzania about HIV and AIDS. And it is true: billboards, T-shirts, advertisements (safe sex is great sex), programs on TV and radio. There is a lot of information available. And condoms are widely available too. It is like that in most African countries I've been. In Ethiopia condoms cost 3 dollarcent a piece and are sold in many places. Even in the street by streetvendors. They walk around with a tray with things as paper tissues, bubblegum, sigarettes, matches and condoms. In Zambia I bought some in a small supermarket. First I bought a toothbrush. There were three girls behind the counter. One asked 'what colour?'. I said 'I don't know, give me the colour you like'. Then I asked for condoms. She said 'what kind?'. Before I could answer one of the other girls said to me 'she likes choclate flavour!'. A 3-pack costs 10 cents (or was it 25?). In Tanzania they are not that cheap, over a dollar for three. But the problem goes a lot deeper than information and condoms.
First of all there is alcohol. It is clear that alcohol lowers awareness and the ability to handle a condom in a safe way. Then there is infidelity. I am honestly shocked to see or hear how many people have more partners. Someone (a Tanzanian girl) said that all Tanzanian girls have three men. One with connections, one with money and one they love. And indeed there are many (oftentimes married) men who use their power and money to get a girl in bed. Inequality in the workplace and poverty make this easy. Despite all information there are still people who sleep around without using condoms too. And of course there surely is a lot of ignorance still. People do drop out of school without being able to read or write and in the countryside there are still families without television, and areas without electric power.
LANGUAGE. Before I came to Africa I expected to spend more time in Mocambique and thus planned to learn portugese. Instead I fell for Tanzania and am learning Swahili now. I spent 6 weeks in Arabic speaking countries (Egypt and Sudan) and I came away with no more than 20 words of Arabic. In Ethiopia they speak Amharic and I managed to travel it without even learning one word, I can't even say 'yes' or 'thank you' in Amharic. I was quite pleased with that achievement. Why? Well, because I believe that you will die in the way you fear most. So, apart from 'knowing' I will die in my sleep (dieing is the last experience of life, I really would resent sleeping through it!), I also 'know' that before that I will end up as the hunchbacked monk in the movie 'The name of the Rose'. Mixing up all the languages I know, not being able to make myself understood. Anyway, Swahili is the twelfth language I have ever started to learn and will hopefully be the fifth that I learn to speak well.
Although Swahili is considered to be easy to learn, I find it difficult. "It is a very logical language with few exceptions". That is true, but it also has a structure that is completely different from any other language I know. "It has groups of words with the same stem and with their meaning in the same theme". For instance: kizazi - offspring, mzazi - parent, uzazi - birth, zazi - fruitful. I admit, it does make it more easy, but it took me all this time to even to start to appreciate this. At first it just created confusion.
In Swahili they just suffix, infix and prefix everything together. For instance: 'I shall beat you' translates into one word: nitakupiga (ni - subject prefix, here 'I', ta - infix for the tense, here the future tense, ku - object infix, here 'you', piga - verbstem).
NYERERE. Julius K. October 14th this year it was 8 years ago since he died. They showed quite a bit of him on tv that day and the week before. He was a remarkable person. The first president of the independent republic of Tanganyika and after the union with Zanzibar he became president of Tanzania in 1964. He voluntarily stepped down in 1985 at the age of 63. He was a great speaker. Sharp and witty, speaking with passion but always calm. They showed some of his speeches on tv. It's amazing to see that really everyone present is actually listening to him. In one speech he talked about the free trade market. First he starts to talk about boxing. How in boxing lightweight boxers are put in the same ring with other lightweights, and heavyweights in the same ring as other heavyweights. Then he asks why Burkina Fasso is made to compete in the same ring as Germany? And says that 'free' also implies an obligation to protect the weak. He makes it simple and direct.
He has gained the title of 'Baba wa Taifa', Father of the Nation and his picture is everywhere in shops and schools. Also his face is on the 1000 Tsh note. The other notes show elephant (10.000), rhino (5000), lion (2000) and buffalo (500). A fitting but modest way to commemorate the first president of Tanzania.
Foto's bij verslag (4)
30 oktober 2007 07:30 | Door: Groningen
Hello Jeroen, Well...the name of Pereira is rather familiar to me. Who is he? Dar es Salaam..Thanks for this interesting story. Swahili seems a rather difficult language to me. Anyway..it is worth trying. It is important to know that someone will beat you..(ok that's nice. excuses for my bad pronunciation but yes beat me...) all the best, Tineke