Saturday, January 30, 2010

Habari za leo?

Our town of Mtwara is well off the popular tourist paths. There's a bit of ocean snorkeling but that's about it. So there are few foreigners around.

Since Diane and I are on foot all the time and we regularly ride the daladalas (minivan buses) we get stared at a lot by young and old alike. It's not hostility. I think it's the sheer novelty of two-legged creatures who do not look at all like black Africans. I imagine that Tanzanians are gazing at me and trying to decide whether I am actually human or not. 8-D

But by extending a few customary greetings in Swahili, the common language, almost invariably we get back welcoming smiles and courteous replies. We tap into the fact that Tanzanians are, by reflex, polite and friendly. I am perceived as a human being, no longer completely beyond the pale.

It's an amazing transformation that illustrates the importance of good manners and how far a bit of language skill goes. -Earl

1 comment:

  1. I remember exactly the same reaction when I was in TZ. I was met everywhere with curiosity, especially for my curly blonde hair, but as soon as you extend a "Habari?" or a "Mambo?" and can return with a quick "Mzuri, poa", then it's all smiles and welcome. I loved my time there - and I'm so enjoying reliving it through you both!