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Learning from Mama Martha

My friend Mama Martha stayed with me for a week a few weeks ago and I’ve missed her since she went home to Songea. Her daughter is a few months younger than Elliot and they had a good time together, and I just really enjoyed her company and having her around.

She has about as much English as I have Swahili so we had a good time quizzing each other on our language questions and learning from one another. Here’s some of what I learnt:

  • If you borrow a hot pot from someone to use to serve food in, you do not clean it before you return it to them. Instead, you should leave some of the leftover food in it, and return it to them like that.
  • When people call my child ‘mtundu’, which loosely translates as ‘naughty’, they are not telling me off for failing to control him, but rather expressing sympathy that he is so lively and such a lot of work.
  • How to make proper maandazi. I’d just been using baking powder, but using a combination of baking powder and yeast makes them much lighter and fluffier.
  • Which word for ‘to make’ you use to say that someone has ‘made’ a mess. For the record, it’s ‘kufanya’.

Categories: Tanzania Woman Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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