Friday, October 14, 2011

Miscellaneous Mzungu Observations

Karibu to my second blog post. If you can't tell by the title, it will include an assortment of thoughts and pictures from my first couple weeks here. Enjoy!

The Mojer:

Mlango Mmoja (The Mojer) is the area of Mwanza where the apartment is. It’s mostly made up of our apartment building, hotels and some shops. We’re within walking distance of all the essentials and I’m slowly starting to understand how the city is laid out. 

used clothing market at Mlango Mmoja

inside the apartment

relaxing on the balcony of the apartment

There are always a bunch of taxis out-front our apartment so if you have to go far or it’s night, they’re very easy to find. Zagaluu (Zaggerbomb) is a family favourite and is a food and beverage shop located about 10 meters from our apartment.

The current Mojer residents are myself, Karly, Victoria and Missy. Mudi, Missy’s fiancé, is also here a lot. As a family, we like to do family dinners. 
hamburgers na chipsi na fruit

We’ve had one party here so far and it was for Karly’s birthday. We had some music, some games, some food and drinks and lots of people.


Almost every night of the week there is some sporting event, dinner or outing going on. For sports, I play ultimate frisbee once or twice each week, go to sunset yoga, go to the beach at Tunza for volleyball or relaxing or swimming at Tilapia. My friends have asked me to play soccer at 8am on Sunday mornings at the international school, but so far I have not had the courage to wake up at 7am on a weekend. I’ve also bought childrens’ some toys from the market which help keep us entertained.

full moon party


after sunet yoga at Tunza

pondering great thoughts

massive wall

dancing rocks

sunset at dancing rocks

This weekend is a long weekend here and we’re going on a boat cruise with a bunch of people out on Lake Victoria at sunset after and afternoon of swimming. Hakuna matata.


The options for transportation are taxi, daladala or pikipiki. A daladala is a minibus/minivan that have specified routes and are very cheap (~$0.25/ride). Pikipiki means motorcycle in Swahili and they are everywhere and are cheaper than taxis. 

pikipiki, seats up to 3
I’m surprised more cars don’t get stuck in holes on the non-paved roads. On some of them it’s not possible to drive over 10 km/h without the wheels falling off the car.


If we walk around outside, chances are people will yell “mzungu” at us. Mzungu means white person and some people are very eager to make it clear to us that we’re not African. Some people use it in a rude context followed by mocking phrases (in Swahili), mostly kids and teens, but some just use it as an identifier. With kids, it is often followed by “give me my money” which I feel is one of the few English sentences most kids here know. Kids also like to say “hello, good morning” to us at any time of the day which always makes us laugh. People yell “mchena” at Victoria, which means Chinese person, even though she is Vietnamese. 

Getting so much attention is something I've never experienced before and it takes some getting used to before feeling comfortable out in public. It doesn't bother me much anymore and I especially love when people go out of their way to make me feel welcome here. "Karibu sana Tanzania," which means "very welcome to Tanzania," is one of my favourite phrases to hear. When I was walking down the street today, Zagaluu invited me into his store to eat lunch with him and his wife. It was ugali (stiff porridge), rice, beans and fish. The food was awesome and it made me very happy to be here!

As a side note, whenever I see other white people I don’t know walking the streets, I have the urge to yell “MZUNGU!” just to see their reaction… but I haven’t gathered the confidence yet.


I have tried to learn some Swahili since I’ve got here. I know greetings and some basic phrases, but that’s about it so far. I need to invest more time into practicing and learning Swahili over the next month.

The Project

In my next post, I’ll discuss what I’m working on and my motivations for coming to Tanzania.

hardly working

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