Being a foreigner in Tanzania
I am Jean Gildas Tapsoba but you can call me G, Gil, Taps, Jean, or whatever. I have had many nicknames in these past two years, so yeah why not? I moved to Tanzania in January 2018 and since then I have become a foreigner in this wonderful country. Being a stranger in this country can be challenging. There are advantages and disadvantages. However, I will focus on the advantages. The country is very diverse and there are many things to learn: The people, their languages and their culture. The country is blessed by Mother Nature with incredible natural resources.
People misconceptions about Tanzania
In West Africa, the perception of Tanzania is unglamorous. Many people think that the country is a vast forest filled with wild animals such as lions and reptiles. I never understood why they think so but yes, it’s real. Another misconception about the country is that people think that Tanzania is an English-speaking country where the official language is English. Also, some people think Tanzania is a Muslim country, maybe because the name of the former capital city Dar es Salaam is in Arabic. Also for so long, TV channels have broadcasted several documentaries about albinos’ discrimination in Tanzania, which makes it very likely that Tanzania is a dangerous country with ancestral and inhuman practices on people suffering from albinism.
Good things to know about the country
Let’s not focus on these beliefs about the country. This can be explained by the distance between the West and the East but also by the misinformation. As mentioned before, Tanzania is a wonderful country with limitless wonders to explore. First of all, Tanzanians are mostly very welcoming and warm. More than one hundred and twenty communities are present in the country (95% Bantu). The most numerous are the Sukuma (15.5% of the population), followed by the Gogo (4.1%), the Haya (3.7%), the Tumbuka (3.1%), and the Nyamwezi (2.8%). %)… In small numbers, Indians, Europeans, Arabs (in Zanzibar). People mind their own business and don’t bother foreigners because they are used to them. It is a peaceful country, and politically stable compared to other countries in the Central and Western part of Africa.
The official language of the country is Kiswahili, for those who did not know and 45% of Tanzanians are Christian, 35% Muslim (the majority in Zanzibar), and 20% are related to animist beliefs, Hinduism, Sikhism… The Kiswahili is the most spoken language in Africa with more than 100 million speakers. Once in Tanzania, you will have to learn the language if you want to survive. It’s a very beautiful and simple language, easy to learn for English native speakers. Some popular words in the daily jargon of Tanzania are Karibu, Asante, Habari, Rafiki, etc. which respectively mean Welcome, Thank you, Hi, Friend, etc.
For those who still ignore, Tanzania has the same profile as many other African countries. You can find big and developed cities like Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, with the same modernity you may find in other big cities like Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, etc. The country has fancy places where you can have fun, numerous national parks and reserves, and many other touristic places to visit. Places to visit or things to do in Tanzania are:
- For people in love with wildlife and safari, a limitless number of natural reserves and national parks such Serengeti, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tarangire, Gombe, Mahale, and Lake Manyara national parks can be some options.
- To learn about the Maasai culture, you can visit the Messerani Snake Park, where the Maasai Cultural Museum is located. The Maasai people are an ethnic group living in the Northern part of Tanzania. However, you can also find them in the Southern part of Kenya. The Maasai people are very popular due to their residence near many game parks of the African Great Lakes and their distinguishable customs and dress.
- To learn about history, and visit fancy and luxurious places, Zanzibar Island is the perfect place. There, you could learn about the history of the slave trade, the old town (Stone Town) have a rest in peaceful places nearby beautiful beaches, etc.
- For hiking lovers, Tanzania has the highest peak in Africa (5895 m), Mount Kilimanjaro. If ever you want to touch the sky, Karibu (Welcome to) Kilimanjaro. There are also several hot springs and waterfalls in the country. Just to mention a few, there are Mount Meru Waterfalls, Marangu waterfalls, etc.
- The TGT ground: a lovely place where you can practice sport, play games, and spend time with family and friends. Many other activities such as the Arusha Christmas Fair and The Kili-Fair are hosted on the TGT ground. Every Friday afternoon people play football, rugby, and Frisbee. My friends were into Frisbee and I had to learn how to play it.
- Tanzania nightlife: It is important to talk about the night Life in Tanzania for partygoers. If you enjoy partying a lot like me, you will never get bored because Tanzanians are also known for partying hard. They know how to have fun. Lol! You will find a place that best suits you. My favorite places in Dar Es Salam were Bucket, Samaki-Samaki, and Elements. In Arusha, I loved going to the Mulberry, a very chill place where you can smoke Hookah and drink beers with friends. Empire and Via-Via were my favorite. There you can enjoy live karaoke while chatting with your friends. CoCoRiko and the Don’s were also fun. There you will listen and dance to a lot of ‘’Bongo Flava’’ (Tanzanian style of music). In Tz, you can party 24/7 if you want to.
Tanzania is a good country, with many economic, natural, and social potentials. Don’t be afraid to move from your comfort zone. Here, you can easily make new friends who will become like family. To be honest, I cannot talk about all the wonders you may find in Tanzania. Therefore, I invite you to put Tanzania on your Bucket List as a place to visit. Why not organizing a safari with your friends, or plan your honeymoon in Zanzibar? The choice is yours. Karibu (Welcome)!