Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Swahili Coast

I have experienced so much since the game parks 10 days ago. I have travelled to remoted places with no internet service, or very limited service, so an update on my blog is long overdue.

From Bagamoyo to the Kilwa ruins to the Sultan paradise of Zanzibar, I am awestruck by the pure beauty of this country and the overwhelming hospitality of Tanzanians. I have truly fell in love with Africa, especially the Swahili culture. Zanzibar was just amazing. The mixture of African, Indian, Persian, and Arabic cultures - all speaking Swahili - was quite a sight to see. I have always considered myself an open-minded guy, but being in a Muslim dominated area broadened my view about the Muslim community. Maybe it's Zanzibar, with such a diverse group of people speaking a common language, or the island lifestyle, or Obama being president - whatever it is, the people were incredibly tolerant and welcomed us with opened arms .

It is so difficult to express in words the feelings I have for this country. Of course I will upload pictures soon (later in the day today, so check back in a few), but how do you capture the feeling you have when close to 1,000 school children sing and dance for you as they welcome you into their school? How do I write how it made me feel when I visited the Ministry of Education and they expressed how they would like for me to come back soon to conduct teacher workshops regarding counseling and working with familes? And the time when a poor teacher from a community school who is so interested in starting a country-wide initative to get counseling in all Tanzanian schools walked nearly 5 kilometers to hear me speak to a group of teachers? It is quite overwhelming. This is Tanzania.

So, yes, I visited the ruins of Kilwa that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries - some of the oldest Mosques and Sultan palaces in East Africa. Yes, I saw Stone Town and the beautiful island of Zanzibar. But, it's the people here that has made this trip fantastic. The school I mentioned where the students sang and danced for us did that out of their own pure hearts. It's not like we worked there for a few days and they threw us a celebration. We just visited a school in a small village in Zanzibar for the afternoon and they greeted us like royalty. They spoke to us about their village and their school, opening their hearts to us and saying repeatedly that we are always welcome to visit or stay in Muyuni.

I can go on and on. I guess all I have to say at this point is visit East Africa. Take a plunge into the Motherland. With all the ills that plague this beautiful continent - AIDS, poverty, access to education, etc - it is rich in so many other ways. The greatest natural resource this country has is the people, especially the children. They are eager to learn, eager to educate themselves, and eager to move forward in a positive way that will benefit Africa and the world.

All for now,


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