A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Glory Glory Man United

Yesterday I was able to sign up for 2 History classes, bringing the total of classes I am registered now up to a grand total of 2. The registration process for classes here is pretty unbelievable, classes although officially starting on Monday, the schedule for many departments came out today, or is still not out, so that makes signing up pretty convenient. The students here are awaiting their government loans which has created quite a stir. Their was a problem with the government paying loans, but it looks like a resolution has been reached. Their is still a small chance that the semester might be canceled, but because it is an election year, that is very unlikely at this point. Their some talk about a student strike/protest set for Friday. I am hopefully going to Bagamoyo for the famous arts festival on Friday and camping out up their. And I hope to start attending classes on Monday, but we shall see.

Last night myself along with 4-5 other international students went with some Kenyan friends we met last week to a great place to watch a football (soccer) match. The European Champions League is a 9 month tournament that features all of the top club teams from Europe. Here in Tanzania the English teams(notably Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea) are by far the most popular and their great interest for the English professional league. Although it is possible to watch some games at a bar on campus some of us wanted to watch Manchester United(my favorite team) and Benfica of Portugal. As it was not being featured on free tv we left campus at 8:30 (Saa mbili nusu) on a dalladalla and headed for the Ubungo bus station, neighborhood. I had not been there at night before but it is a pretty safe place I suppose. We walked about a half mile to a little place down an alley that had about 10 rows of benches and 1 roughly 27 inch tv. The game kicked off at 9:45 with about 125 watching this 1 TV with most all of them cheering loudly for Manchester.

Manchester took the lead right before half time, to the delight of the residents of this particular outdoor theatre/football watching place. Unfortunately, despite Manchester dominating play Benfica tied the game in the 60th minute. And a few fans of Arsenal and Chelsea were quite glad to see Manchester tied. As the game wore on it looked as is the Red Devils would run out of time, but with just 5 minutes to go Ruud Van Nistelrooy scored the game winner for Manchester and the sent the place in to bedlam. They held on for the victory, and it was pretty cool high fiving the other Manchester supporters. Of course we were the only 5-6 white skinned people in the place, and certainly more than a little out of place, but it was a truly great way to watch a football match. Tonight is Chelsea vs. Liverpool and I will watch that on campus or in my room with roommate Daniel (a fellow Manchester supporter).

Coming from the US and being apart of the majority race it is very easy to forget that race is an issue. I have gained a new perspective on race. It is a very unusual(for me anyways) situation to walk around campus by myself and realize that in any direction and do not see another white person. This is something I had expected, but no white person in Europe or the US could quite know how this feels without being apart of the .1% of the population that is different, atleast in appearance if not economic background from the other 99.9% of people. I believe this is a big part of the valuable experience I have already gained here. It is a new experience for me(despite my obviously head turning physique and physical beauty back home, haha) to realize that as I walk around literally 9 out of 10 people is looking at me, and certainly not always in the friendliest of ways. So I have a new appreciation for what it feels like to be an overwhelming minority, but it is a really good experience.

Most everyone is friendly here, but of course we still get the Wazungu calls and jokes, although I dont understand what is being said. I hope to keep learning new things and experiencing totally different emotions and circumstances than those I had prior to coming to Tanzania. I'm not sure it is a place for everyone to visit, but if you don't mind using a whole in the ground as a bathroom, can get used to cold showers, lots of rice and beans, and can accept that yes in fact you probabaly will contract malaria while you are here, I cant think of too many other places I would rather be. Enjoy the baseball playoffs, they are really popular here...right.

Matt