Monday, November 30, 2009

6 am at the fish market

So I managed to secure a bodyguard to go with me to the fish market early in the morning. I wanted to take some shots and since its such a sketchy area, I was sure to get harassed and possibly loose my precious baby, my SLR. So I found a friend, local Indian guy who said he would go with me. He then had to enlist bodyguard number 2 to watch the car.

The market was packed early in the morning with men and women waiting for their boats to arrive with their catch. Fishes were being chopped up, heads in one pile, tails in another. So many people. Here are some shots from the photo trip.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sausage dog

Whenever there is a meeting here I'm told to not eat a heavy breakfast or lunch depending on the time of the meeting because.....

of these "sausages". They love it here. Does anyone else just see a hot dog missing its bun??? Definitely not the type of sausage I was expecting. I don't get it and I kind of find it gross.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

16 Days of Activism Launch

November 25th was the launch of the 16 days of Activism against Violence against Women coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (VAW). Basically, the days are dedicated to advocacy with the aim of creating actions towards eliminating VAW. It's also the fruits of my labor from the last 2 months.

so many plastic water bottles...

The launch was held in the public grounds where it was HOT! The Prime Minister was the guest of honor and speeches from development agencies and NGOs were given. The best, from what I hear since I couldn't understand a word or hear from the table I was manning in the back, came from a survivor of violence who is staying in Dar's only women's shelter. The best for me was the march into the grounds where students, activists, men and women marched into the ground after trekking through the city carrying signs to end VAW and corruption that prevents justice from being served.

I got some great photos and got 230 people to sign up to UNIFEM's Say NO-UNiTE campaign. It was hectic and a success if numbers are all one looks at. One student summed up my feelings the best "So what happens after I sign this campaign? What's the point?" What's the point indeed? I mean yes awareness is raised, people start talking (at least for the moment), the word is spread, etc...but what is the point of all this advocacy, where thousands of dollars are spent, if it doesn't result in concrete actions? I was saddened to see the grounds after the event, littered with all the information the NGOs and we were handing out and everyone was eager to get. I've noticed that so many people are attracted to the colored books, but only a handful actually read it and out of that a random few take it to heart. Often all these efforts seem pointless...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

good effort, good effort *clap clap* ha!

It's now 7:30pm and I cant say YAY! about the lit review progress. I went out for lunch and had a walk around the city with a friend instead, then I took a nap and further procrastinated with evil facebook : ) I'm still at my five pages that I had this morning and haven't cracked the other things advisor person wants. humph...OH WELL!

Mvuli and Thesis= my Sunday

The short rains, mvuli, started in Dar es Salaam in October, but disappeared after a few blissful days of rain and cooler weather and this week they came back! The lady in the drawing, her dreams are slowly coming true (if climate change doesn't interfere again).

Its a good day to work on my thesis especially after receiving an email from my academic advisor, advising me to consider postponing graduation to August. I asked for one bloody extension and I'm still ahead of the official deadlines...WTF! Grrr....her freaking out is freaking me out. She hopes I'm working on it every evening and every weekend. Yeah right...though her email is an exaggeration of the actual situation, it is a wake-up call. I need to get my act together. Though its a bit hard when now she's asking me to give her my table of contents, draft abstract, and draft conclusions on top of the literature review that she wanted a week ago. *sigh* Thing is I know what I want to write, but it's all disorganized in my head. I'll post at the end of the day, hopefully with a big YAY! because I finished the lit review or at least the list of other crazy things needed. Fingers crossed!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Daily News and Me

Check it out. I was quoted in the papers. Though the journalist didn't use my fake title and didn't mention who I work for...bad journalism, but my boss is THRILLED! At least I did something right : )

I <3 TX

Yes that's right, I'm missing Texas. You know that state with the funny Governor that wants Texans to secede the Union, the state that claims 'Everything is bigger in Texas' and of course the home of those two whacky Bush fellows. Oh and how can I forget, the state where apparently everyone is a cowboy or cowgirl. Yes its true, we ride horses instead of drive cars. Silly folks.

AND I also miss my pup who has a loose tooth and is going to the dentist today :*(

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A funeral

I went to my first funeral today and it was an African one. I don't know the man who passed away. He was my colleague's brother. In traditional Tanzanian fashion, money was collected from all of us yesterday to help the family with the expenses of a funeral. The burial is tomorrow in their hometown of Moshi. Today was an opportunity for people to pay their respects. We arrived in the afternoon in a UNDP mini bus. All of us at UNIFEM went to show our support to Salome. It felt like we were together, part of this work family, it was a nice feeling. Women had dress codes, to wrap a kanga around your waist, and the men had none, quite different from the all white attire in Hinduism. There were at least a 100 people if not more. I couldn't understand anything being said, but I didn't need a translator to understand the raw emotions being expressed. Women wailed at the site of the open casket and men shook from crying so hard. I could tell this man was loved tremendously. I too stood in line and paid my respects and saw, for the first time, a dead body. I gave Salome a big hug and said nothing, I had no words, I myself was on the brink of shedding tears from hearing all those women breaking down. One woman fainted and was lucky that a WHO doctor was there to attend to her. After 2 hours of praying and hearing a beautiful choir, the ceremony was over and people stood in line for food. Since we all had had lunch we said our good byes to Salome at which point she insisted on giving last minute work instructions while shes away. : ) Oh and she really wanted me to meet her nephew cause he's doing an internship in India. He had just flown in last night from Pune where a dear friend of mine is right now. It's a small world.
I can't really compare a Tanzanian funeral to say an American or Indian one because I've never been, but all in all it was a sad event even for someone like me who didn't know him. He was taken after 8 years of battling HIV. The family knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier.
May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"VAW Specialist"

So I gave another presentation at a workshop for Tanzania Media Houses on the importance of involving men in eradicating violence against women (VAW). The presentation went well and discussions were had on the role of the media, yeah yeah yeah... That was important, but what had me leaving freaked out was the fact that so many of these journalists were asking me my title. The first someone asked I just blurted out "VAW Specialist" cause I couldn't very well say intern. That was fine until I was formally interviewed by the Daily News paper and now my fake title will be in print. I came back to the office and turns out freaked out for nothing. My field advisor said I am a VAW specialist : ) Made me feel a bit more confident and qualified. hehehe
Tomorrow I'm going to my first funeral ever and its an African one. My colleague, who I went to the judges training with, lost her brother to HIV. I'll keep you posted on what its like.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I saw an Indian woman on the dala dala today...I take back my statement that Indians don't ride dala dalas. She proved me wrong!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I wish I only had to do the work I've been assigned at UNIFEM or I only had to do my thesis. I can't seem to do both. I missed my lit review deadline and I don't see any chance of getting it done until after Christmas. I'm overwhelmed : (

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The judges and my collegue : )

Judges and Magistrates

Committing to UNIFEM's and the Secretary General's Say NO- UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign

I don't think one can ever find their papers once they get filed in this mess.

A room where cases are heard.

The start of the 16 days of activism against violence against women is coming upon us from Novemeber 25 to December 10th. Since I arrived in Dar all my work has been towards planning these 16 days. We are supporting 8 organizations and the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, and Children. Two events have happened outside of the 16 days time frame, but are still contributing to the international days of activism. The first I posted about here and the second was this past week in Kigoma, a small city on the shores of Lake Tangayika. In the distance I could see the hills of the Congo or was it Burundi. : ) After travling with high court judges and getting VIP treatment at the airports, we arrived on Monday to a nice hotel right on the shores of the lake.
The view from my room.

Judges and magistrates from Dar es Salaam, Kigoma, Tabora, and Mwanza arrived to participate in a training on the international and regional laws that Tanzania is a party to. Focus was on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). There are so many treaties and laws that Tanzania has signed on to, but very few are actually upheld in the courts. So the training was specifically on violence against women and inheritance laws and how to look at cases from a gender lens. It was an interesting experience to see how judges operate. Every minute was accounted for and the only color in the room came from myself and my collegue, everyone else was wearing grey and black suits. House rules were set before anything else and all decisions were made based on consensus. Though there were some light moments here and there about desperately wanting to go to Gombe National Park. I mean there isn't much to say about the week. Everyday from 8 to 5 the judges went through case studies and did role plays, at times I felt like I was in a real court room. There was a lot of talk and committments made, but let us see what actions actually result. Oh but there is a case that one of the magistrates is trying. She told me that she's working on a case of an 11 year old girl who was forced to have sex with a dog and the perpetrator is a Dutch man who was making a porno. Sick!

Despite hearing horrendous stories like that, all and all it was a great week and I feel rejuventated. A trip out of Dar was exactly what I needed. Can't wait for the next one.

A typical house
Kids outside the David Livingstone museum.

Every morning snails were everywhere!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

another year passes

A writing of some sort, doesn't fit the structure of any poem. My mind wondered on a 'special' day for me during a gender training for Tanzania's judges and magistrates. (A post will surely follow)

five years ago today

the world turned upside down, literally

he drove the bus like a race car driver

she wishes she knew his name

the curve came

they found themselves

all of them full of dreams

facing the ground

covered in shatterd glass

silence ensued

dust fell

then the screams

cries of pain

the blood

covered in blood

the bits of flesh

mixed with rock and pebble

but all survived

40 lives changed forever

she wonders if the driver thinks today

of that fateful day 5 years ago

she sure as hell does

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dare 2 Dream

This weekend I attended my first conference in Tanzania called Dare 2 Dream. It was an inspiring 1 1/2 day conference about mentoring, not giving up, not listening to anyone who tells you "You can't do that because you're a girl", about believing in your self, health and beauty, and of course I threw in a talk about violence in the work place, just to chipper things up a bit : ) It was attended by 200 young aspiring African women and elder successful African women. The contrast between the views of the young and elder women was evident from the talks. The elder women, who are taking on the role of a mentor for the younger women, were married young and strongly dislike men. On the other hand, the younger women were looking for a way to be a feminist without hating men. In a way it was proof that social change had taken place and we had gone from one extreme to another in the past and were now finally reaching a middle ground.

I also met local designer Doreen Mashika Funny enough I had emailed Doreen last week to see if she would be at fashion week since I love what I have seen of her stuff so far (think modern African chic). She emailed me back and said she wouldn't be there but I was welcome to her shop anytime in Zanzibar. I guess the universe liked me this weekend because she happened to be at the conference in this fabulous mix kanga print dress she designed herself. I talked to her briefly, while trying not to make it obvious that I wanted to strip her of her dress and run away with it. She told me that she would send me pictures of some of the fabrics she has and she would help me design a dress for myself. Now it would cost well over a 100 bucks, so I'm still debating on whether I'll actually do it. Man, but it would be such a unique creation better than what I was able to create on my own. We'll see...

All and all it was an interesting conference that really tried my patience at times. Nothing started on time and the speakers time was not moderated so some spoke for hours and by the time it came to be my turn to speak the audience was tired and it was already 7pm (we were supposed to be done at 5pm). The slogan of the event was 'YES we can' with a clear acknowledgement that they were taking Obama's slogan. This is the third time I've heard reference to Obama's 'YES we can'. I must say that many people here are proud of him, even sporting his face on t-shirts and kangas (I promise a picture of this will come).

The take away message from the conference: We, as women, can do anything we set our minds to. Like one man said at the conference, one of the only men, "There is a reason why computers can only do one thing at a time...they were created by men and men can only do one thing at a time" hehehe This is true, women can multi tasks quite well. One topic that remained unanswered is how women can balance there multiple roles because even with our multi tasking abilities, it can get extremely overwhelming. It was a concern raised by many of the girls, but never got a clear cut answer....I wonder this all the time.

Swahili Fashion Week

SO the pictures came out pretty crappy (I stupidly didn't take the SLR), but it was a great night. I went into it with little expectations, I mean this isn't Milan, Paris or NY. Of course it started an hour late, in true African fashion and featured designers from Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa. The MC for the night was none other than a girl that sat in my office just last month wearing her United Nations Association hat. Little did I know then that she is former Ms. Tanzania, a budding actress, and EXTREMELY well known in Dar es Salaam. I felt a little cool when she came up to me to say hi. : ) The fashions were not outlandish, they were moderate and wearable. The make up was extreme with red, shiny lipstick like the shoes Dorothy wears on her way to see the wizard. Oh and there was a full on Janet Jackson moment. I felt so bad for the model, but she kept strutting as we stared at her fuly exposed breast. Classic.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Immigration Adventures

I finally got my permit...yay! NOT!!!!!! I tried to play it clean and only got a permit for 6 weeks. Now I'm playing dirty. Good God help me...

My Creations (sort of)

Imagine thinner sleeves

Angel my tailor

She's so nice and I really gave her a challenge with these designs!

I finally got my dresses made. Though, not exactly how I wanted and they had to go back for a second go since the zipper on the blue one didn't work and the sleeves on the green were too wide. I got these things fixed (the picture is before they got fixed, so imagine thinner sleeves on the green dress, sorry I'm too lazy to take the picture again) The things I couldn't fix were the saying on the bottom of the blue dress that is not in the centre and a bit big on the top and the brown border on the green slants and cuts off at the corner and the lines aren't vertical but diagonal. BUT I've come to accept that these little bits make the dresses unique. I will be wearing the green one tonight to the young designers competition at Swahili Fashion Week. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Weekend at a beach resort

I get to stay at the Kunduchi Beach Hotel and Resort this weekend (for free!!!) for a conference we're co-funding on women entrepreneurship and women's rights in the workplace. I'm sure it will be quite the extravagant fanfare with the President's wife expected. As UNIFEM representative I have to document it and write up a news brief *AND as and addition, cause I just found out, give the UNIFEM presentation and suffer through a Q&A. YIKES!*. Can't wait to blog about it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The man on the wall

I go to sleep seeing this man and wake up every morning to his you see it???

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hip-Hop night

A bit for Halloween: students from the previous day's hip-hop workshop

Saturday night I went to an AMAZING hip-hop show/dance. The show started with a history of hip-hop. Unfortunately, the sound was bad and parts were in Swahili, so I resorted to Wikipedia (I know this is not real research, but what is a girl to do when a lit review is looming in the horizon) to learn about hip-hop.

The music is used to express concerns of political, social, and personal issues. Hip hop arose during the 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City, especially in the Bronx. Block parties incorporated DJs who played popular genres of music, especially funk and soul music. DJs, realizing its positive reception, began isolating the percussion breaks of popular songs. This technique was then common in Jamaican dub music and had spread to New York City via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community. A major proponent of the technique was the "godfather" of hip hop, the Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc.
Dub music had become popular in Jamaica due to the influence of American sailors and Rhythm & Blues. Large sound systems were set up to accommodate poor Jamaicans who couldn't afford to buy records and dub developed at the sound systems. DJ Kool Herc was one of the most popular DJs in the early 70’s. Due to the fact that the New York audience did not particularly like dub or reggae, Herc quickly switched to using funk, soul and disco records. Because the percussive breaks were generally short, Herc and other DJs began extending them using an audio mixer and two records. Source: Wikipedia

Tanzanian Hip Hop (thank you Wikipedia)
Hip hop culture in Tanzania began in the early to mid 1980s chiefly as an underground movement, when promoters and artists would be forced to record and copy music in makeshift studios using rudimentary equipment. Underground rap began, not in the poorer working class areas of Dar es Salaam, but in the slightly more affluent areas of the city, where there was access to the Western world through friends, family, and travel opportunities. Oddly enough, rap first caught on amongst the youth of Tanzania's 'middle class.' These were teens with some formal education, a familiarity with English and a connection in another country who could mail the music to them. Hip hop provided the perfect outlet for Tanzanian youth to voice their anger and dissatisfaction with society. These students of hip hop played an integral part in the formation of bongo flava, "through participation within a transcultural, multilingual and multiracial global hip-hop nation, combining African-American language with Swahili and local street varieties ("Kihuni")". In the 1990s, Tanzanian hip hop shifted from an underground phenomenon to commercially accepted model, and became accessible to working class youth as well.
Bongo flava is Tanzanian hip hop, with fast rhythms and rhymes in Swahili. The name “Bongo Flava” comes from the Swahili word for brains: ubongo. Bongo is the nick name of Dar es Salaam. It means that you need brains to survive there. It has evolved over time, combining elements of American rap, R&B, hip hop, with its unique Swahili twist. As much as American culture is in Tanzania the lyrics are politicized, about HIV, poverty and corruption, or about life, relationships, money, jealously and love.
Tanzanian hip hop has been seen to voice many positive messages. Music has served as an alternative to newspapers, radio, and other forms of news about social issues and conditions. Tanzanian rappers have been seen to work with government organizations and NGOs regarding social issues among youth such as AIDS awareness and drugs.

Rappers such as Sam Stigillydaa has said, "American rappers talk about crazy things- drinking, drugs, violence against women, American blacks kill blacks. I hope African rap stays African and doesn't turn crazy." Tanzanians view the United States as an aggressive country that romanticizes both violence and crime whereas Tanzania dispel such a romanticization of violence and crime.

After the brief history lesson, we witnessed the unbelievable moves of Zahrbat I never knew a body could move with such fludity, then switch to such ridgity, then black flip all over the place and end with endlessly spinning on your head. It was a mix of breakdancing, gymnastics, and contemporary dance. All I can say is wow. Following the dances, The Best Friends, Mrisho Mpoto, Professor Jay, and Fid Q raised the energy of the crown with raps on love life, and an array of social issues. With the pumped energy, the crowd gathered to dance the night away.

Below is a video of a dance off with the students and the members of Zahrbat. Sorry its a bit rather crappy but it gives you an idea. Nevermind, it won't upload : (