Three Months in Tanzania: What Have I Learned?

So I’m back home. Felt strange at first. It’s the little things I miss, like the radio in the morning, the conversations with Ed,  the outdoor lunches, the meetings with “my” team.

Going to a different world leaves traces. Sometimes less when the exposure was minimal and sometimes more, when many touch points with the other culture were made. Having spent three months in Tanzania and reflecting on it I come up with some points where I think I’ve changed somewhat. It’s an integral part of what the Global Citizen experience at Credit Suisse is about: reflection and building awareness. Continue reading Three Months in Tanzania: What Have I Learned?

How to put the Global in “Global Citizen”?

Inspired by the tales of a Global Speaker I’ve been observing my own global mindset. While living in Tanzania for 3 months I interacted with people around the world through receiving or providing various services. On my last day in Tanzania it is time to look at the following list: Continue reading How to put the Global in “Global Citizen”?

Funeral of an Employee in Tanzania

There has been a recent accumulation of obituaries in FINCAs email flow. Apparently every death of someone who is an employee or direct relative is acknowledged so co-workers can offer their condolences.

It appears that there is a specific way of dealing with death in Tanzania. There is substantial risk of losing face for the representatives of the company, especially if it is a foreign company. Let me tell you a little story. Continue reading Funeral of an Employee in Tanzania

A Mad Dash to the Airport

It’s my last Friday in Tanzania. Storytime. I’m about to describe my worst ride in a three-wheeler or bajaj. Like in a good suspense movie it’s more about what didn’t happen. There was an air of danger throughout the entire length of my trip to the Julius Nyerere airport in Dar es Salaam. Anything could have happened.

You may ask why didn’t I take a proper driver or at least a taxi. Thing is, I needed to reach the airport on a Friday evening which is the worst day for traffic jams. My assumption was that a bajaj would be able to move where cars can’t. Continue reading A Mad Dash to the Airport

Young Entrepreneurs in Mwanza

When I heard about young entrepreneurs in Mwanza I was very interested to visit them and find out more about the connection between entrepreneurs and loans. I have often heard that if only there were more money business could be taken to the next level and would become more profitable. My own views differ but I was willing to listen.

Swisscontact had teamed up with a donor on one side and local trainers  on the other side to start a project for unemployed youths. Continue reading Young Entrepreneurs in Mwanza

A Weekend in Mwanza

Most of my work days have become kind of “normal”. They start around 8 am with greeting my colleagues, then a cup of coffee followed by work. 1 pm is lunch and 6 pm is the time to catch a bus home. But there were at least two exceptional days. One was when virtually everyone who saw me spoke Swahili to test my greeting skills. And when I failed they insisted “you just HAVE to learn this!” So I practiced.

Only a few days later several people told me about the beauty of Mwanza: “You just HAVE to go to Mwanza!” and “Look at me, I’m from Mwanza. Aren’t I beautiful?” Continue reading A Weekend in Mwanza

Hear, See and Feel the Odd Side of Tanzania

There is a significant degree of oddity in my life abroad. It’s being transmitted on all channels to me: visually, verbally, sensory. I’m doing the Tanzanian “club handshake” at least three times a day and have become pretty proficient at it. There is also the “stroke shake” I mostly get from women: a not-to-firm handshake followed by a soft and sliding release. Eating by hand doesn’t  remind me of childhood anymore. Sneezing is not commented. By either party. Took quite some time to get used to. Continue reading Hear, See and Feel the Odd Side of Tanzania

Mouthwatering Meat Meet

I’ve written about my disappointment with meats in another food post, that’s why I just had to check out the Nyama Choma Festival that took place in Dar es Salaam yesterday. It’s first and foremost a place to go to with friends to eat and drink and listen to music. The fact that some places sell wine by the bottle and beer by the four-packs is a testament to this. Well, I made some friends…

But let’s talk about the serious gourmets who are into marinating their products “until the meat just wants to slide off the bone” as one guy told me. Continue reading Mouthwatering Meat Meet

Dar es Salaam Buses – Mirror of Life

sarah_markes_bajajaiIn Dar es Salaam there are buses, minibuses, taxis, motorbikes and three-wheelers (bajaj) – all available to transport the public. But for moving large number of people there are basically just the large buses. Always painted in the colors of where they come from and where they go with the terminal stations stenciled onto the colors: “Posta”, “K/Koo”, “M/Mbusho” or “M/Rangi” (find a map with some Dar bus stands). And they have curly writing on the side: “City Bus” it says.

For a fare of TZS 400 (USD 0.20) you get to see a lot of the city.  Yet the passengers complain about the high prices. Continue reading Dar es Salaam Buses – Mirror of Life

What is a Slum in Tanzania?

With time my perception changes. I can almost feel it. It’s due to the fact I am confused. What is poor and what is rich? At their extremes these terms are clear. But what’s going on in the middle? Whenever I see a dirt poor person with threadbare clothing and no shoes walking the streets the sign “poverty” flashes up in my head. But occasional local companions label such persons as “crazy”. So it starts to look like only the mentally ill are at the very bottom of the pyramid.

Housing is a similar case of confusion. What clearly looked like slums to me at the beginning is looking less and less so. I see unpaved roads, narrow pathways and no running water but then I see power lines running through such places and I see that most houses are built from bricks. Can this qualify as slum? Continue reading What is a Slum in Tanzania?

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