Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wild Things

So here are just some of the wild things seen...

Can you see the monkeys we passed by on our hike?

By these wild things....

Just your typical, friendly zoo monkey.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Window of Language

While I am not a linguist, I have learned some things about language over the years.  One thing I have learned is that each language provides a unique window into the culture of the people it is used by.  For example, in English, our desire for short answers shows our value of direct, clear communication.  In Mozambican Portuguese, the common use of “mais ou menos” (more or less) could show that they understand the truth that life is a mixture of good and bad.  

Swahili is no different in its provision of a window into the culture of its speakers.  

It was by no accident that our first few days of classes were spent learning greetings in Swahili.  Often when meeting someone, a Tanzanian will go through two or three different greeting combinations.  We have been told that the first mark of a well behaved child is how they greet others.  (There is even a unique greeting with which younger people greet those older.)  Greetings are an important part of Tanzanian language and culture.

I believe the use of greetings shows the value which Tanzanians place on relationship.  Greetings will often include inquiries into your work, your family and for us, our studies.  Greetings are the first step in recognition and respect for another person.  

It is also interesting that the response to most questions of greeting is usually “mzuri” or “I am good.”  Regardless of what the reality of life is at that moment, it would only be with the deepest of friends that you respond in a different way.  This is very much like the English response of “I am fine” to most inquiries.  

We are pleased that the boys are able to learn some Swahili as well.  Here is a video of a song they learned during our orientation…

We also sang this song in Macua at our church in Mozambique, but never knew the meaning of the words.  A quick translation of the song:

Hakuna Mungu kama wewe
Hakuna Mungu kama wewe
Hakuna Mungu kama wewe
Hakuna na hatakuwepo.
Verse: Nimetembea kote, kote Nimetafuta kote, kote Nimezunguka kote, kote Hakuna na hatakuwepo. 

English version: There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus there’s no one, there’s no one like him There’s no one, there’s no one like Jesus There’s no one, there’s no one like him. I’ve walked and walked everywhere I’ve searched and searched everywhere I’ve turned around everywhere there’s no one, there’s no one like him.

 While we have much to learn in both Tanzanian culture and language, it has been a “zuri” introduction!
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