Black is Beautiful

 

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“If I had a superpower, it would be to turn white.”

“Your skin is prettier than ours.”

 

 

black handsAfter hearing these quotes from extremely young girls during my first month living in Africa, I started wondering why they would idealize fair skin when theirs is just as beautiful. Billboard advertisements for clothes and jewelry here commonly feature stunning black women, and the children are constantly surrounded by hard-working, black adults who serve as consistent, positive role models. The Tanzanian flag incorporates the color black to represent the Swahili peoples’ pride in the color of their skin; yet, during my stay here, the children have displayed the (sometimes intense) desire to be white.

It wasn’t until I went to the movies to watch The Incredibles 2 that I noticed how many young black children there were at the local theater to watch a film about superheroes- white superheroes.

The Incredibles is a typical kid’s movie—a white family with super powers saving white bystanders, with a single black hero thrown in the mix for “diversity.” I started to think about how different the film would be if The Incredibles family was black, and if Frozone was just the white sidekick.

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In my head I went through my list of princesses and superheroes I wanted to be like when I was a younger. Not one was black. Tinkerbell. Superman. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty.

The hair I wanted to grow out and comb with a fork was a realistic dream because both me and The Little Mermaid have white girl hair.

So what princess is there showing black girls how beautiful their hair can be? Which one shows how pretty and practical the common shaved African head is?

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Out of Rotten Tomatoes “Top 100 Kids and Family Movies”, zero star a black character as the lead role. That statistic includes the two movies set in Africa. Black children have the option of either watching a white family heroically raise a safari animal, or watching The Lion King in which only the villains of the plot line have black fur.

Ants are black.

So why are the ants in the animated movie Antz colored white? 

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If the statistic that 85% of the human brain develops before the age of five is accurate, having adequate representation in children’s media is a huge factor in determining a child’s self-esteem.

African girls and boys deserve to know how wonderful they are, and how wonderful they will grow up to be. They deserve to know that they have just as much of a chance at saving the world or meeting Prince Charming as the white child sitting next to them in the movie theater. They deserve to know that African Beauty isn’t just a song.

 

They deserve black princesses.

Andrea O’Boyle

Medical Project at Faraja Dispensary

Art in Tanzania work in partnership with clinics and hospitals in the Dar es salaam area to provide medical projects for volunteers who are either fully qualified doctors/nurses or currently in Med School. Around 2 weeks ago, a nurse from Norway, Katja, arrived in Tanzania and has been volunteering at the Faraja Dispensary – a local clinic in Madale; less than a 10 minute walk from the AIT compound.

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Working together with the nurses in the pharmacy

The Faraja Dispensary is a private clinic that deals with minor surgical procedures and general clinical services such as HIV/AIDS prevention, growth monitoring, child health care services and many others. Malaria diagnosis and treatment was noted as the most common problem dealt with at the clinic. Last week I, along with a fellow media and journalism intern, were able to assist Katja to the clinic to see observe what happens on a typical day. She has mainly been performing injection procedures to treat diseases such as malaria and on Fridays, Katja works alongside nurses assisting with the health care of children in the mother and baby unit of the dispensary.

I got that chance to speak to one of the head doctors in the clinic to learn a little more about the dispensary and some of the issues it deals with. At night the clinic is usually at it’s busiest with doctors and nurses treating injuries resulting from road accidents. With the clinical facilities enabling only the treatment of minor injuries, patients with more serious problems are usually referred to a public hospital obtaining more technical facilities and instruments of a higher quality.  Problems faced with the transfer of patients from the Faraja Dispensary to a hospital of higher standards is the availability of transport.  Ambulances are not an option for patients coming from the Faraja Dispensary therefore public transport seem to be the only viable option. The patient, then, is responsible for covering the cost of the transport. The cost of health care on top of transport fee is one of the issues faced for many local residents. However, compared to larger scale hospitals and clinics, Faraja Dispensary is one of the cheaper health services in the Madale area. They offer many free vaccinations and the cost of medicine is somewhat affordable for the local residents.

Art in Tanzania offer numerous projects involving medical and health care. As well as working with many hospitals and clinics, volunteers are able to provided community care and health teaching & training to schools and villages in the Dar es Salaam area. They are able to help and assist staff in the clinics as many of them are understaffed; as well as gaining valuable medical experience in an environment different from the norm. One of the largest ongoing projects is the HIV/AIDS awareness seminars in which volunteers are able to raise awareness of these issues to the local community. If you would like to read more about some of the medical projects offered with Art in Tanzania, please do not hesitate to visit our website!

Asante sana,

Lily

 

Interview with an Intern: Tomoki

Art in Tanzania receives many different interns and volunteers from different parts of the world, all year round. As an intern myself, it is interesting to meet and live among such a diverse group of people, learn about their home countries and what they are doing with Art in Tanzania. So I decided to interview one intern originally from Japan; Tomoki…

Q: What is your name and where are you from?

A: My name is Tomoki Noguchi and originally I am from Japan but I go to university in New York in the US.

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Tomoki hard at work in the office

Q: How long have you been in Tanzania?

A: So far I have been here for 15 days and I am staying for 1 month. So I’m about half way through. It is also my first time in Africa.

Q: Where did you hear about Art in Tanzania?

A: I heard about Art in Tanzania through my university on the internship website. AIT was posted on the webpage. Also, one of my friends came here last year so he told me all about it.

Q: What is your job as an intern with Art in Tanzania?

A: I am working on sanitation projects. So currently I am analysing the efficiency of composting/dry toilets. In the future Art in Tanzania are hoping to put dry toilet systems in schools all across Tanzania and I am helping to do the research for this.

Q: Is living in Tanzania very different to living in your home country?

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Boxing Day at the beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage

A: Yeah, of course, no place is the same. The roads here are rubbish, I hate shaking. I get stomachache and headache, the government should fix that; there should be pavement. I don’t understand, that should be top priority – I was shocked.

Q: What are you enjoying most about Tanzania?

A: I enjoy making new friends from all over the world. Some of the food I enjoy but some I don’t really like. I haven’t tried much traditional food but I really like cassava. I’m used to eating things like chapatis and cassava so it’s good.

Q: What do you miss most about your home?

A: I don’t really miss America that much. I’ve been missing many things from Japan. For example sanitation and traditional Japanese food, of course. Tokyo city overall. But what i’ve been missing is the culture in more developed countries. When I went to the hospital I didn’t feel like they were professional or had the responsibility of doctors.

Q: Do you think you will come back and visit?

A: I would definitely like to come back and visit Moshi to see Kilimajaro and may be even climb it. I would also like to see a national park.

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Tomoki with one of the house dogs; JJ

 

“I’m really enjoying my time in Tanzania because of the people here, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, especially JJ!”

Asante sana,

Lily

 

 

Evening English Class: Interview with Zabron

‘TIA: This Is Africa’ 

Used to explain the laid back, relaxed, African way of living: ‘This is Africa‘ is a common phrase heard around the volunteer compound and Dar es Salaam in general. Despite working on bongo time (african timing), having TIA permanently carved into my brain, and adjusting to a less structured way of living; 5pm on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday—without fail—is the time scheduled for the evening English class. Putting spelling and grammar aside, last Mondays lesson was a little bit different. I decided to interview one of the students that regularly attends the class; Zabron. You see, I may know that Zabron can identify the subject, verb and object in a sentence, and I know that he can explain the difference between and adjective and an adverb; but I don’t know much about him. So I introduce, to you, Zabron Anthony…

  Q: What is your name and where do you live?

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 10.36.15 A: My name is Zabron Anthony. I live at Bagamoyo in Kiharaka Village and have been living in that place for 9 years.

 Q: And where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Shinyanga and from here that is about 1,000km. My parents were living in poverty so they could not afford to send me to school. I have been faced with a lot of challenges but I am really thankful for and enjoy the English classes.

  Q: What is your everyday job?

A: My job is that I am a security guard in Mbweni. This job helps me to pay school fees and I have only been working there since 2014 because of school. I plan to leave this job when I start school again. From my home to Mbweni is 2 hours because I walk but other days I use public transport. I don’t enjoy this job very much because of low wages.

  Q: Do you get a chance to practice what you learn at the English classes in your job?

A: A lot of people at my job only speak Swahili and that is a challenge I have because they don’t like to learn things that help you to advance. But at the moment I like to learn from my phone away from the English classes. I like looking at the lyrics of songs. When I have a chance I watch the BBC and when I do not have chance to watch TV I just watch my phone. If I am busy at work I listen to the radio so that I can learn the pronunciation and my aim is to learn English and speak it like you.

  Q: And how long have you been coming to the English classes?

A: I have been coming to these classes for a long time. I started with Art in Tanzania in 2014 for 4 months but left because of school. I finished school last year so this year I come to AIT as to improve my language because I like to know English.

  Q: Is your school/college English speaking?

A: There is English speaking at the college and there is also French but they favour English when they want people to join the college.

Q: And finally, what do you hope to do with English in the near future? 

A: In the Near future this English will help me to join the college next year, I am trying to learn good things that will help me in the future. I would like to visit England but I haven’t the support. If I get the support it would be good because I can meet more people who will help me learn. If it will happen even for only one month it will be really good.

 “When I learn English I have the opportunity to do a lot because it is an international language”

IMG_2841 (1) Art in Tanzania volunteers and interns are working to help support and to benefit
people within the local community. Providing English classes like these give locals a chance to improve their understanding and competence within the language; overall
giving them more opportunities. To read more about some of the education programmes offered by Art in Tanzania you can visit our website .

Asante sana,

Lily

 

 

Boxing Day at Bahari Beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage

Swapping winter coats for t-shirts & shorts, wellies for flip-flops, and roast dinners for barbecues it’s safe to say Christmas 2017 has been unlike any other for me and spending Boxing Day at the beach with children from the Glory of Africa Orphanage has definitely been a highlight!

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The idea of a day trip to the beach stemmed from one of our dutch volunteers, Michel, who during his stay at AIT has been teaching English to the children at the orphanage. With donations from himself, Art in Tanzania and some of the other volunteers this idea was made into a reality. On December 26th at 11:30 am we arrived at the Glory of Africa to find the children packed and ready for a blue sea and white sand filled boxing day. After piling into a mini bus we were on our way to Bahari Beach, the local beach which is around a 25 minute drive from the orphanage. Within seconds of arriving the children had already found a spot to put their things and were running around and playing in the sea.

From the budget that was created for the day trip, we were able to buy lunch and drinks for the children which consisted of freshly made rice, beans, vegetables and bananas! Whether they were playing football on the sand or splashing in the sea I could see smiles for miles as they enjoyed their boxing day in the sun, sand and sea.

Without the donations from everyone involved in organising, this day would have not been possible so i’d like to say Asanta sana to Michiel and Art in Tanzania for playing a big part in this trip going ahead!

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+30 degree heat and sand on my feet is far from the norm of a typical Boxing Day in England but I wouldn’t have it any other way. With Art in Tanzania I have been able to have fantastic new experiences, become accustomed to african culture and live in proper Tanzanian style. Volunteers and interns are always coming up with ideas to help or even simply to treat members of the local community and with Art in Tanzania we can make these ideas a reality! If you’d like to be involved or learn more about Art in Tanzania and our mission please visit our website for details!

Asante sana,

Lily 

Football with the Local Children

As well as their own projects, Art in Tanzania interns and volunteers can participate in different projects and activities throughout their stay. Nette, a student from Finland who is here conducting research for her thesis, is a big fan of football; luckily enough so are the local children! Barely even a 5 minute walk from the Dar es Salaam AIT compound is a big open space that acts a pitch where she was able to have a kick-a-bout with a few of the kids, and soon enough more and more came to join in!

These types of activities are available to all interns and volunteers; whether it be an evening hobby or taking part in one of our Sports Placements. There are many different roles to play when undergoing a Sports Placement and one of the most popular choices among volunteers/interns is the Sports Coaching projects:

Sports Coaching with Art in Tanzania 

Each sports coaching placement is specifically tailored to the individual who is participating in the project. Although football is a much loved sport in Tanzania and the most popular among the sports programs, new games and sport activities are welcomed to be introduced. In the past, we have had volunteers introducing the likes of gymnastics, and capoeira – an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. Sports classes in the communities are introduced as part of the children’s curriculum as well as our new popular approach involving community sport mornings whereby local people are bought together on Saturday mornings for health training. With the native language being Swahili, the in-country staff are always happy to assist as a translator where needed; brushing up on a few phrases can never hurt!

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Although the ages of the children that get involved can vary; the high level of enthusiasm  in every child is the same! They really get involved and seem to love every minute of the activities. To read more about what we do within sport in local communities and our different projects don’t hesitate to visit our website!

Asante sana,

Lily

Visit to the National Museum of Dar-es-Salaam

As projects take place Monday-Friday, interns and volunteers have the weekends for trips and other activities; such as visiting the National Museum of Dar es Salaam!

Last Saturday, myself and two other interns took a trip to Dar city centre. Starting in Tegeta, the journey lasted about two hours due to connecting buses in Mbusho and typical weekend traffic! Once there, before heading to the Museum, we stopped at the local fish market located near the ferry port for some lunch where we were able to have some  delicious fresh fish. En route to the museum we passed some notable buildings such as the offices belonging to parliamentary members and the official office of the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa.

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Working with Art in Tanzania, the Dar es Salaam National Museum has partnered with our organisation in which creating the program: Arts and Music Against Corruption in Africa. This program sees how we can use the arts; such as music and dance, to promote anti-corruption in an interesting and creative way.

Opened to the public on the 7th December 1940, the National Museum is located along Shaban Robert Street at the junction of Sokoine Drive near the Botanical Gardens. It is one of the 5 museums in the country that form the National Museum of Tanzania. Known as the King George V Memorial on its first opening as a dedication to the head of state at the time, the museum began its expansion when Taganyika gained its independence between 1962 and 1964. With the expansion leading to five branches being made, the King George V Memorial transformed into the National Museum displaying a range of exhibits from historical and contemporary art to ethnographic collections on Tanzanian cultures.

One of the most famous exhibits in the museum is named ‘The Cradle of Human Kind’ which displays fossils found in the Olduvai Gorge, a 50km long canyon in northern
Tanzania and one of the most important paleoanthropological sites. One of the most famous artefacts in the museum is located in this exhibit. In 1959 British Archaeologist, Mary Leakey, discovered the of skull of the Paranthropus boisei, an (extinct) hominid. Some of the fossils in ‘The Cradle of Human Kind’ exhibition date back 2 million years and have formed the basis of our understanding of the human evolution!

Being able to travel to the city and other places around Dar-es-Salaam is the best way to explore the culture of Tanzania, and the National Museum taught us a lot about the countries history and its people. If you would like to learn more about the National Museum of Dar-es-Salaam or any of the other 5 museums that are part of the National Museum of Tanzania then head over to their Facebook page, give it a like and have a browse!