May 31, 2013 in Africa, Culture, Front, Justice, Mark, Tanzania
On the train from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam this week it was fun to bump in to some of the backpackers for whom the TAZARA train seems to be an essential part of their African adventures. I was interested to hear their perspectives of Tanzania, as well as Zambia, Malawi and South Africa that they had travelled through.
However, it seemed that the travelers all came trying sub-consciously to answer the question: What is wrong with Africa? Whether it was in complaining about the train being a couple of hours late (not really a big deal when it travels thousands of miles, and there is no strict schedule anyway), or frustration at not understanding how the process works to buy tickets (yes there is an orderly queue even if you don’t see it, and no you can’t just push everyone until you get to the front), or thinking that workers digging a road are lazy because the majority are standing around (if you do manual work from dawn until dusk every day near the equator, you’d better pace yourself in the middle of the day or you’re not going to survive…), there seemed to always be the unspoken assumption that Tanzania is broken. The worst thing is that I can see all their same attitudes in myself when I first visited Kenya twelve years ago. Read the rest of this entry →
May 27, 2013 in Africa, Front, Life, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe
The last few months have been a busy time for us, hence the lack of blog posts! In March we flew to our head office in Dar es Salaam, where I was part of a committee discussing how our Uganda-Tanzania Branch is governed. While that doesn’t sound very exciting, the meetings were actually very interesting and we made some good progress towards thinking through how staff from various countries and cultures can all give input in to policy, and how this might work in practice.
In Dar es Salaam we were also asked by our branch leadership to consider moving in to new assignments next year, and to bring forward our planned time in the UK and the US so that we would be back in Tanzania to start our new jobs in early-2014. So on arriving back in Mpanda we concentrated on handing our work over to our colleagues, particularly Isaack who will be taking on much of the day to day running of the office that I have been responsible for.
Read the rest of this entry →
February 28, 2013 in Africa, Culture, Front, Language, Life, Mark, Mission, Tanzania
Language learning can be hard work, especially for us Brits who hardly uttered a single word from any language other than English until age 11, (and even then only for 3 hours a week in the school classroom.) I remember looking forward to beginning to learn German as I started secondary school, and thinking that all I had to do was to memorise the German word for each English word and I’d be fluent – simple, right?! I’m glad to say my understanding of linguistics has progressed a little in the last 20 years…
Now, living in western Tanzania I find myself speaking Swahili for much of the day, alongside English, with a few greetings in some of the local languages around here thrown in. As foreigners living in Tanzania it can be tempting to see language learning as a necessary step before we can get on with our real work, a period of time we need to set aside to get up to speed with the language so we can start what we really came here to do.
But I think language learning is so much more than that. Learning the language (and culture) of another person is essentially learning to understand the world from their point of view, and as such is a never-ending journey. Read the rest of this entry →
February 16, 2013 in Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Mark, Mission, Swahili, Tanzania, Wycliffe
Our team leader, Richard, and I were driving around Sumbawanga town this afternoon, trying to meet up with regional bishops and church leaders to update them on the progress of writing down the Bende and Pimbwe languages in preparation for Bible translation to start. Arriving at the house of the FPCT (Free Pentecostal Church in Tanzania) Pastor, we were told that he was at a meeting of Sumbawanga church leaders at the EAGT (Evangelical Assemblies of God in Tanzania) church.
Sure enough, when we arrived at the large EAGT church we found not just this pastor, but about 20 leaders from churches across the town. We were grateful for the opportunity to update these pastors on the work that our team has been conducting with the Bende and Pimbwe communities over the past few months, and our hope of seeing Bible translation started soon.
After giving this update, Richard asked the pastors if they had any questions. Read the rest of this entry →
February 6, 2013 in Justice, Mark, Mission
The following video, made by Everyone Matters, is entitled “First World Problems read by Third World People”. Personally I don’t like the terms First and Third World, but I think the video does a good job of juxtaposing the very different realities of day to day life in different parts of our world. Read the rest of this entry →