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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

About Tanzania

Dear friends,

Some comments on Tanzania for the inquisitive, and in response to questions that people asked me, before I left:

Dar es Salaam is considered the economic and commercial capital of Tanzania; it is also the largest city in the country, with over 2.5 million people. Dodoma is the political capital, something like the difference between the reputations of New York City and Washington, D.C. There are about 46 million people in Tanzania, and in some ways it is a mix of 1st and 3rd world, reminding me of Belize City, Lima, Kampala, Nairobi, and other places we have visited on mission trips.

Dar es Salaam is on the coast, in the South East of the country. Kasulu is in the North West of the Country. The country is 3 times the size of New Mexico. It is home to Mount Kilimanjaro, near the border with Kenya, on the North East side.

Mr. Stanley met Dr. Livingstone, a few hours by car from where I will be staying in Kasulu, nearer the center of the continent, opposite the Congo on Lake Tanganyika, the second largest fresh water lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest.

Tanzania is pronounced: TAN-zah-NEE-ah, not Tan-ZANE-ee-ah. Ask anyone here, and you get a laugh if they think you are serious about calling it anything but TAN-zah-NEE-ah. Been there, done that.

Swahili is the national language. There are perhaps 200 tribal languages, sometimes 5 or 6 tribal languages in a region of the country. Swahili unites the country, linguistically. It even unites families if the husband comes from one tribe, and the wife from another tribe in the same region because the tribes speak different languages, but the people in both tribes learn Swahili.

English has been the dominant language in higher educational circles, but there are aspirations to make Swahili dominant there. The problem with that policy is that English is the dominant commercial and financial language in the world. That dilemma is not likely to be solved to everyone's satisfaction, any time soon. My seminary classes are intended be taught in English.

Tanzania is in East Africa, along with Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda. Tanzania is just south of the Equator.

Anglican clergy are highly respected. I have found this out, first hand, and many people have said "God bless you" to me when they have found out that I am clergy.

There is a strong Islamic sentiment in the country: over 50% of the population on the mainland being Moslem, and about 99% on the Island of Zanzibar. It does not surprise me, then, that I find Arabic as an alternate language to English from time to time in a few places, instead of English and Swahili.

The Tanzanian shilling is the local currency. The US dollar is a second currency to use. Some prefer to be paid in dollars instead of the shilling.

Malaria is a big health issue. I plan to be sleeping under mosquito nets for protection.

It is rainy season.

Between 1885 and through World War I, what is now Tanzania was part of German East Africa, and then it was administered by the British. It gained independence in 1961. Actually, the process was more complicated than that, but this is a broad stroke introduction.

The novel "The African Queen" was about the widow of an Anglican missionary, and the setting was in the South West of Tanzania when it was part of German East Africa.

God bless you,

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