Thursday, December 01, 2005


I am writting this piece away from Africa. The air transport experts shocked me when they told me that I am sitting at about 19 hours flight from my home land Tanzania. A simple meaning to this is that I am miles away from my motherland.Its a scary feeling and I should insist its hard and almost a nightmare learning to cope with it.

I have been in North America for a while now but I am yet to get fully used to it.Shame on me?!! Its a good exposure and experience both positively and negatively. Whether we choose to agree or not, North America is different from Africa. I have spent lots of time trying to compile the similarities and I can assure you that its a hell of experience doing just that. I am not saying one place is better than the other but I am saying these two places are DIFFERENT from each other. And I am not talking about landscapes here because in that area I can mention some similarities like trees,lakes,ocean,hills etc. Its all about social life and beliefs.

I miss Tanzania and Africa in general. I know some friends thinks I am just trying to act crazy. To them Africa is not a place they wanna miss. They say they have had enough. I love the continent and of course I miss all my friends and relatives. Who wouldn't miss the continent with all these? Click here You must be strange not to miss what is everyone's dream to feel and experience.

Today on my way back from work many thoughts about Africa came in my mind. It was about the differences I am talking about.I specifically focused my thoughts on social affairs. In the elevators ( I live in a condominium) no body greets another, no body even smiles at one another. We were five of us in the elevator. Two of us going to the same floor.Imagine these are supposedly my "right hand neighbours" That made me remember those days when in the early morning hours I could go to the bus stop greeting and smiling to everyone on my way to the bus stop. They also smiled and greeted me back. Its not like they want anything from you NO..its just for love.Everyone is your friend or at least one respects the fact that you are all human beings. Getting a free smile here is a rare occassion. If you are lucky you can get it from the receptionist or when paying for your groceries. But this comes out of their job description orders anyway! In my neighborhood I don't remember anyone that I didn't know by name. It was a street of about 30 houses with each house with at least three family members. At work a young man came complaining that he has been expelled from school for a simple fight with a school mate. He goes on explaining to me how teachers called cops who came in four of them with the siren in full flash. I almost bursted into laughters before feeling the tears in my eyes. Can't teachers handle such a simple case? I remember how much we used to fight in school, if we were here in Canada bet all of us would be inmates for life. But instead our teachers (who had almost parental powers on us) would finish the whole saga. Even the school principal wouldn't know about such incidences. I bet they had better things to concentrate on.I know some calls that abuse and giving teachers too much powers.However,let me tell you something..I am proud of the teachers who used to handle such fights because I see how much time and money is wasted here trying to bend a fish before it dries up(an african say)

I remember how embarrased one woman was when she came for an interview just to find me sitting on the board ready to shoot some nasty questions. She happened to be from the same building I am living and as the matter of fact she had always given me a "cold shoulder" kind of looks.I am not sure if she is a racist or not. I could imagine how such a thing can rarely happen in Tanzania.Hey..let me stop I am told our society is also changing out there.Everyone wants to feel "americanized".Ooops I guess those people do not know what the society here is missing.You can tell how lonely people are in this part of the world by the way everybody is busy with either cell phones, disc man, a novel or newspaper. No body to talk to.You better be busy with the latest tech gears.How do these people initiate relationships?? How do one start and not find a court summon the next day for sexual harrassment? Gosh they have legal terminologies here and trust me you can't escape if they want you in pink suits.Anyway I will keep you posted about these similiraties and differences.But the most important thing is to respect each others way of life.Africa can be economically behind(africa is never poor) but can its social wealthy be compared to any other one on earth? Peace,understanding and tolerance can start there.


Amelopsis said...

I like where you're going with this, I look forward to reading more (and pictures are always nice to see!)

mandora said...

Welcome to Canada!

Not all of us Canadians ignore our neighbours! I've made friends with everyone in my apartment complex (although at first I did get some strange looks - imagine, I was speaking to them in the elevator!) Too bad I don't have more neighbours like you...we could organize a rousing game of checkers. :)

But, I agree with you, on a whole there isn't enough emphasis on community. What else is there to care about, if not other people?

And, of course you should miss Africa, it's your homeland. Those people who tell you that you shouldn't miss it are talking non-sense. Of course North America and Africa are different - culturally, socially, environmentally, temperature-ally..... be proud of who you are and where you're from! If we were all the same, I wouldn't get up in the boring and grey would the world be?

I look forward to reading more posts. As a Canadian who just doesn't feel 'North American' I appreciate the points you're making.

Anonymous said...

jeff, i am very excited to read your blogs. I am especially interested about your topic on canadian multiculturalism. I believe canadians promote multiculturalism but they do not embrace or try to understand cultural practices. Ironically, I was thinking to myself over the weekend that black people or any other ethnicity are subjected to harder struggles when they give their children cultural names. I was thinking the same thing about the slaves having to change their names and live with american names. it's the same thing today, we are not accepted if we give our children names that are not "recognized" in north america; especially when submitting resumes. someone with an indian, muslim or even african name will have a harder time getting a job rather than "john, susie"etc. You raise some really interesting points...all the best to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

alexis from work wrote the previous comment! see you at work.

Jeff Msangi said...

Thanks Alexis,
I agree with you,the lifetime challenge could start as low as with just a name.Very sad1

mandora said...

I do think that's an interesting point. If someone of African or East European or Asian heritage immigrates here and names their child a traditional name from their culture, they get criticized. Meanwhile, 'North American' names are traditional western European names... no one is making fun of people for being named 'john' because it's 'ethnic'....