Making idle conversation last week, I mentioned to several people that Red Twin was coming to stay. Everyone I spoke to wanted to meet her, even people I was speaking to for the first time. Some even invited themselves over for a meal!
I wondered how to interpret this. Was it the hospitality thing? The novelty factor? A social nicety?
When I mentioned her trip to a student we know well, B, and he said the same thing, I asked him what it meant. He said that when Nyerere implemented his socialism, he told all Tanzanians that they were no longer to think of themselves in tribes. They were all relatives. Your friend’s sister is your sister also.
You know how in Australia, if you have a special visitor you might introduce them to your family or closest friends? That same idea applies in Tanzania, but with a much bigger idea of ‘family’. Apparently what I thought was idle conversation was actually making a much more significant social statement.
Students Speak contains some of the highlights from our conversations with students each week. This isn’t about getting an ‘accurate’ picture of Tanzania so much as learning how the students we meet with each week see their world.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.