The Race Series (Sort Of): Where’s that?

Yesterday, I was talking with my Southern African family about a trip I’m taking to Tanzania. I’ve never been to Tanzania. But a friend wanted to celebrate her birthday there, so we’re going. By the time this article is published, we’d have gone and come back to Southern Africa.

My family was asking: where is Tanzania? What is it known for? Does it have beaches?

All the questions made me remember how it is assumed that an African knows about the whole of Africa, regardless of where exactly they’re from. It also reminded me of how I used to think that Europeans know about the whole of Europe, regardless of exactly where they’re from. I thought they’re always in and out of each other’s countries. I thought: why wouldn’t they be? Their countries seem so pretty and organised and the standard of living is high. They can easily save up and visit once a year. Or easily move to the next European country and stay there for some years. So I grew up thinking Europe was this melting pot where everyone knows of everyone else’s culture and knows at least 3 languages. I was later there, briefly, and was told by an European that’s not the case. Everyone keeps to their own country, language(s) and culture unless they are forced to go elsewhere or unless they belong to the younger generations which are more keen to travel.

We are all like this, I suppose. It’s definitely the case where I’m from. We travel a lot but not necessarily to other African countries. We seek career opportunities in the Western world and tend to move there. Or go to exotic places like Bali or Dubai on holiday for those who want to flex and can afford it. (I haven’t had the good fortune to go there yet, but if I had the money I would go to Vietnam.) But we don’t seem to know much about other African countries, especially those in East, West or North Africa. I suppose this is natural because everyone all over the world sticks to their own religion, family values and social norms, don’t they? Whatever we are raised with, that is truth to us. But I tend to find myself wondering: how different is it over there in East, West and North Africa? I finally have a chance to go somewhere so that’s exciting. I’d like to create more opportunities to go to those places and see for myself what it’s like.

Even though the entire family always knew there was a place called Tanzania, most of us hadn’t looked it up in detail and we didn’t know anyone who’s ever gone there. I’ve been instructed by my mother to come back with some Kente fabric because hers has grown old and is falling apart. My personal mission is to explore the food and the beach. (We come from a landlocked country -which is why everyone in the family is so keen on beaches.) I also wanted to make some friends there who I can continue talking with after the trip. I’m curious about the culture there and how everyday life is. It’s easier finding out if you know someone who lives there, versus relying solely on a 5-day trip.

I just thought I’d share a few realities of a somewhat sheltered, Southern African person. If you enjoy reading about those kinds of insights, let me know and I’ll write more about life in all parts of Africa as I find out more about places outside the south.

Random Thoughts: Pretending I Knew A Famous, Dead Stranger

I once watched a movie which depicted the life of a painter… The painter, described by the Internet as ‘morally skittish’, left his family behind for a carefree, Tahitian existence. If I remember correctly, the painter had a friend who … Continue reading