My time in Morogoro has been lovely since I’ve last posted. I switched teachers this past week and have enjoyed the new rhythm. All the teachers work a little differently and, I think, it’s helpful to change the pace after a few weeks with one teacher. My teacher and I have been focusing a lot more on talking during class so I can just get practice conversing. This has been really helpful and it’s been exciting to discuss a variety of things in Swahili. One day, one of the questions in class asked why hospital workers and police officers wear uniforms. It was meant to be a simple question, asked because the vocabulary for the lesson was about clothes, including uniforms. However, we were able to have a really interesting conversation about the benefits and losses to wearing uniforms. It was something I never would have thought about, but ended up being enjoying to consider in Swahili. We’ve also been able to discuss a range of topics, like women’s rights and Tanzania’s economy, that have provided interesting cultural insight, while also helping me to build up my political vocabulary. I have been reading short stories in Swahili, which has proved intriguing, fun, and helpful. It is especially useful in grasping a better understanding of sentence construction and how verbs are used. Since the campus is a bit isolated, this has been great for getting another source of Swahili in practice.
There were two holidays last week so we had a little bit of class shortened on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Though most of the teachers have Christian backgrounds, it was really interesting to learn more about. Morogoro has a fairly large Muslim population and there are a few mosques near the campus. Often I am able to hear the call to prayer in the morning or evening on campus, but before Eid during the Night of Power a car was driving around with a speaker praying. Then on Wednesday, we were able to hear a sermon throughout much of the morning. It’s been so interesting to hear these since I’ve never heard a call to prayer before. Eid al-Fitr was especially fascinating because even though the teachers weren’t Muslim, they were so excited it was Eid. It’s such an important and joyful holiday that it extended outside of the Muslim community to friends and family.
Thursday, July 7th, was Saba Saba a national holiday in Tanzania. Saba is seven in Swahili. Saba Saba celebrates farmers in Tanzania, but is also on the day that the political party, the Tanganyika African National Union, was formed in 1954. As this was Tanzania’s party during single-party rule, some opposition parties disliked Farmer’s day being on Saba Saba and now celebrate it on Nane Nane (8/8). However, Saba Saba is still a national holiday and seems to be celebrating Farmer’s Day. It was interesting because many people seemed to be excited about the holiday, but weren’t sure of the difference between Saba Saba and Nane Nane. I think it was determined that it was now a day for businessmen and Nane Nane is for farmers. It was intriguing to hear this uncertainty, but exciting to once again have teachers enthusiastic about their country, economy, and people!