Shikamoo Mama, Shikamoo Baba

I love Tanzania. The moment I walk off the plane I remember how much I love the crisp, dusty air that smells slightly sweet, with whiffs of diesel and sweat. I love the dirt roads, the food, the language, the noises that I’m still trying to identify (crying baby or animal), but mostly the culture and the people. 

When I’m in Moshi feel like part of the community, even though I’m a muzungu, wherever I go. Tanzania is unique in the sense of tribe unification. There is no tribal conflict and people coexist peacefully together. There is also a strong culture of respect and it’s a beautiful thing. Children respect elders and elders respect children in return. It’s refreshing.

Wherever you go, you are greeted by whomever you pass, and you exchange some greeting in Kiswahili. When you pass elders you say shikamoo out of respect (I had to shikamoo everyone because I look like I’m 12). If your not an elder your called dada (sister) or kaka (brother), or if your a white person your muzungu or mwalimu (teacher). 

I cherish my walks to town when I inevitably met a new friend that would walk down the street with me, them trying to talk to me in English, and I in Kiswahili. The children that would run after me and with me on my dirt road runs saying muzungu and trying to get high-fives. I kind of felt like a celebrity running through town! 

It’s so important to have a sense of community. Whatever material things you may or may not have, this bond of community can carry groups of people through anything. Maybe this is why I feel so comfortable in Tanzania, despite the language barrier and the thousands of miles away from home. I’m part of the community, I deeply respect the culture, and I love it. 

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