Monday, February 22, 2010

1 month from today...
In exactly one month I shall be boarding a plane and making the long journey back to good ole' Texas. Though I shall be sad to leave certain things and people that I've come to love, I can't help but be excited, primarily at the thought of all the food I shall eat when I arrive. My list, in no particular order...
2. sushi
3. mother's home cooking
4. more of mother's home cooking
7. this new fusion place my brother goes on about.
10. and more MEXICAN
holy shits I can taste it now! (when I say mexican I really mean tex-mex, mmmmm)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Another one of my favorites from Sauti Za Busara...Thandiswa.

Thandiswa is a South African artist with what I think is a beautiful voice. Get background information here and read a review of her music here.
Check out her music here
(yes I'm linking multiple sites, but its the quickest way to share info. right now without trying to think up something to in handover mode!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mzungu Kichaa

One of the groups at Sauti that I liked and found a bit unusual was Mzungu Kichaa literally translating as "the crazy white man". Mzungu is the term given to foreigners in Tanzania, you often hear it being shouted out in a negative way. Luckily, since I look like I belong here, I don't get it. My friend's Swahili teacher said that it literally means someone who is walking around aimlessly.

Mzungu Kichaa is a Danish man that sings in perfect Swahili. His music is a blend of reggae and hip/hop and is liked by nationals and foreigners. Check out his music here His cd is on sell on i-tunes as well. Enjoy!

Here's a bit of his bio as written on his myspace page...
"Although Mzungu Kichaa originally hails from Denmark, he is one of the pioneers of East African bongo flava. His mission is to open the European market to East African music, with a foot in both Africa and the west Mzungu Kichaa is able to transcend barriers, build a bridge between cultures and reinforce the concept of music as a universal language.

In 2001, Mzungu Kichaa topped the East African charts with 'Mambo ya pwani', one of the first songs to take traditional Tanzanian music and fuse it with hip-hop...."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sauti cover up

Back from the friendliest music festival, Sauti Za Busara. It was a great experience. The music was fantastic with beautiful, sultry voices, crazy drum beats, and guitar stringing. It was packed with foreigners, expats, the local Zanzibari community, folks from the mainland, and of course my office. There was some dancing, not as much as I expected, a lot of illegal drug usage, more than what I expected, and some down right dirtiness. I was impressed and saddened by the amount of fuel this festival consumed. Zanzibar has been without power since December with no hope of it returning before March. The island has been consumed by the noise of the generators, the smell of petrol, and just down right uncomfortableness for months on end.

What shocked me most is the way many people, especially women, were dressed. When folks think of Zanzibar as a fun island getaway with lazy days on the beach. This is true, but only on the private beaches. It is not an island where you can walk around in your bikini with a skimpy cover up, not an island where you your cleavage is everywhere, your shoulders are bare, and your legs exposed. Zanzibar is 95% and therefore, to respect the community one must cover up. Nobody is telling anyone to wear a hijab, just don't expose skin that doesn't need to be exposed. The website for the music festival had warnings on what not to wear, all the guide books mention it, and its pretty much common sense to respect the community you're in. Unfortunately, that was not the case here.

I didn't take my slr because I didn't want to lug it around so, I didn't get many good shots. Here's a few to give an idea of the fest.

He was trying to teach her how to shake her shoulders.

stoned Israelis

One of the skimpiest dressed girls who also enjoyed dancing in front of everyone near the stage.

Friday, February 12, 2010

morning or motion sickness?

Yesterday after work I went to the friendly neighborhood pharmacy to get motion sickness meds. There are 2 near my house. The one I've gone to in the past was full of people and the other was empty. So I regrettably went to the empty one. I told the lady I needed motion sickness medicine. She looked a bit confused so I said I'm going to be on a boat and I swayed back and forth to imitate some sort of rocking boat. She spouted out some long mumbo jumbo name and I said sure that one. I paid the equivalent of a buck and walked out. I took it this morning 7hrs before though, not 12 hrs before like she said .
This morning I had a meeting. Hour one I was fine, hour two started feeling iffy, hour three I damn near just put my head down on the table for a nap.
I came back to my office and googled the name of the med. Its for pregnant women to combat morning sickness! Grant it the symptoms are the same, but this shit is high dose. Maybe she thought I said morning not motion sickness. Or maybe my weight gain makes me look pregnant! After some more research I've learned this same medicine was being prescribed in the 80s and resulted in babies being born with short arms and legs. Ahhhh my poor non-existent baby! hahaha They say the meds have improved and its still being prescribed though many mothers-to-be would rather just live with their heads in the toilet, SHOCKER! hahaha
I'm sure the drowsiness will pass. But now what about the numbing of my hands...humph!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sauti Za Busara

I'm going to this festival this weekend!!!!!!!

For the last 7 years Zanzibar has hosted the Sauti Za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) Music Festival within the walls of the old fort in Stonetown. Its been coined the "friendliest festival on planet earth". There will be taarab drums, hiphop, poetry and so much more from Zanzibar, Mainland Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, The Gambia, Uganda, DRC, South Africa, and some Euro-African groups. And to my delight selling of jewelry, clothes, shoes, and other handmade, beautiful wearable art!

I'm so excited! Leaving Friday by ferry to Zanzibar. All I need is that sea sickness medicine... Last time I was on a ferry I spent the entire ride with my head in the toilet. : )

Monday, February 8, 2010


Last week I went on my first UN mission as the gender expert for a joint program on wealth creation and economic empowerment. I was basically the annoying one who always asks, "What about the women?" "Can we hear a woman talk?" "Where are the women!?!?!" and then some. It was a very rural, very beautiful region on the border of Mozambique. We had our convoy of white Land Cruisers speeding past curious communities at 130km on unpaved roads with our high frequency radio antennas flying in the air. I learned a lot and I'm questioning the existence of development even more. My two biggest observations...

1- The UN has its role in the world and implementing projects is not one of them. A development practitioner cannot implement agriculture programs while sitting in his or her air conditioned office in the mega city of Dar es Salaam. If I had a project fail stamp, it would have been plastered all over everything. Cassava processing plants in an area where cassava doesn't grow, cashew processing plants that exploit women's labor and permanently damages their hands, importing chickens from Europe because they are supposed to be superior to local breeds (ummm sounds like colonialism chicken style), giving power tillers to farmers who don't have a license to drive them nor can they afford the petrol, building a sesame processing plant only to have it put to a stop because the location is not good, youth platforms that are pointless, tons of workshops and capacity building for the government only to have them transferred immediately after, etc. etc. etc. The UN is good at policy and working with national governments. They should stick to that instead of wasting millions of dollars on projects that don't work. The good thing is everyone on our mission agrees and told me that the UN is slowly moving in this direction. My only request is let's stop strolling over there and start running.

2- Tanzania is aid dependent. Not everyone, but at least the parts of Mtwara region I saw. I couldn't help but compare my experiences of visiting communities in India and visiting communities here. I will say in India I was with an NGO and here with the UN which definitely influences the community's reaction, BUT I've never encountered communities that stare blankly at you when you arrive and always always say "We need more money." There is little intiative to take ownership and to contribute to projects. The women I met usually walked around with haughty attitudes and the children looked absolutely miserable. They didn't find imaginative things to play with, they weren't running up to us, there was very little curiosity displayed. My theory is they are jaded by seeing development workers and would rather get straight to the point and ask for more money. There should be a time limit to giving development assistance, but who sets that limit and how is it enforced? Development workers should work harder to development community driven, managed, and owned projects. I think that's the best way to prevent dependence, but that would put development workers out of work (which I still hold is the goal, but obviously we all watch our back first, but in this case at the expense of others). I have so many more thoughts about this...will try to continue to process and share.

Though many mistakes have been made, I'm sure everyone will find a way to make the few positives seem like amazing feats, while the mistakes are a work in progress. After all nobody wants to lose their job. Why do we do this thing called development? It's full of greedy pigs. Just finished reading Lords of Poverty...also contributing to such depressing development thoughts. Perhaps I should just go and take photos and forget all this. Speaking of photos...captures from the trip