Some notes on Kenya and Tanzania
neil posted in Travel, Neil, Tanzania on March 31st, 2007
I’m back from East Africa now and writing up my travel diaries to post here. These are some notes that would be useful to understand my diary and experience.
Mzungu: Got white skin? Go to the Swahili countries and you are a mzungu. What this means is ultimately dependent on who you are talking to. It can mean anything from “I am a giant stack of money, charge what you like” to “I’m a bit different, teach me a handshake and some Swahili”. The direct translation has multiple meanings from “one who wanders” to “Tiresome”. There is no hiding your Mzunguishness, deal with it.
Africa time: Short hand for the special time zone that allows a minute to become five and half an hour to become three. Another constant of our trip. We had to remind people that when we set a time we did’nt mean Africa time. There is also Africa distance where around the corner is 5km of hiking. You get used to it, most services do seem to run on Africa time. This includes ferries and service at restaurants.
Swahili countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
Us: On this trip, us and we refers to Sarah, George, Kathryn and myself. Sarah and Kathryn are two medics just finished 3 months in a Kenyan hospital. George is a software engineer of the larger variety.
Hakuna Matata: Means “No problems” Go to the Swahili countries without hearing it, I bet you can’t. The front of the bus is on fire, your plane has left without you, you’ve just asked to see a tiger in Africa, expect to hear “Hakuna matata”. The tone of voice determines whether this means “RUN!!!!” or “everything is fine”
Fly catchers & touts: The people who believe Mzungu are a giant stack of easily available money. Just say a polite and firm no, several times. They will follow you, they will touch you, this is normal. Don’t change money or book a safari through them, thats incredibly stupid. Switch on when they are around and don’t get agressive. Don’t let them ruin your impression of a friendly and generous people.
Swahili: Technically this should be Kiswahili (the language of the Swahili people) but for an international audience, Swahili in reference to a language makes more sense.
The DVI out of my graphics card is broken at the moment, meaning all colours are “special”. I will colour correct my pictures once this is fixed. Enjoy the blogs.
Photos are up here and will be contextualized as I write.