Archive for Januar, 2015

postheadericon At the funeral

Last Thursday, a brother of my Tanzanian baba (father) has died. On Saturday was the funeral, traditionally Luo (the main tribe in Mara). I asked mama if I could help somehow – for sure I donated a big sack of rice as people usually do if they can afford it – and she told me to be on the shamba (farm) on Saturday morning because she could use any help.

On this shamba, there are two small houses, one made of bricks and one traditionally built round. There are no trees, no bushes, no water, no electricity, no shadow. I could never survive at a place like that. In the morning, about 100 women were building up fire places and started to cook. Some men digged the grave and others slaughtered cows and goats. The chicken and ducks were killed by the women. Until the ceremony started at around 3 p.m., we were cooking, serving all the guests (approx. 500 people), washed dishes and so on. That was really hard work: there was no shadow, a strong wind and open fires everywhere. So whatever we were working on, we’ve had smoke in the eyes and the sun burning down on us.

During the ceremony, there were prayers, speaches and songs, the mourners passed by at the open coffin and said there blessings, prayers and last good-byes. At the end of the day, my „uncle“ was buried and the guests left.

It was really special experience for me, being part of it. Mama let me work almost like the other women: cleaning rice, cutting vegetables, serving the guests, cleaning the dishes and also helping cooking ugali. Sure, she sent me to the shadow several times (but there was no shadow…) and made sure, that there was bottled drinking water or tea for me. But after a few hours, I was no longer „Mzungu“ for the women but Susan. And I could convince them, that I can clean rice and do other tasks women traditionally do here. I could experience, how hard the life on shambas like that must be – and my mama is so tough, she worked without any break, even her work already started on Thursday.

During the ceremony, one of my „cousins“ made pictures with my camera. So I have intimate impressions and photos, I could have never taken – close and private. I will give them to mama and baba and show you also some of them. Please understand, that I do not show you the most private of them. It is common here to take pictures of the body in the open coffin, of mourning relatives and so on. But I think, that should be kept in the family. Even the occasion was a really sad one, I enjoyed it – being part of this community and being able to support people directly. But I was soooo tired in the evening…

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postheadericon Read about…

…my experiences in Tanzania also on Maji Safi Group’s „Watering Hole“:

"Watering Hole"

„Watering Hole“

postheadericon Holidays

After spending Christmas with my „Swiss Family“ in Musoma, I have spent time in Shirati with my „Tanzanian Family“. It’s really nice to have many little siblings. We went dancing together and spent a lot of time talking and having fun together.

I also had the chance to be invited to visit a typical family farm a bit outside of Shirati (I was told it is still Shirati, even if I had the impression of being already in Masai Mara). There is no water at all, no electricity and the roads to go there are dangerous already by daylight. But it’s a beautiful and peaceful place! As I was there as a private person and invited by the owners of the farm, I was shown everything and could talk to the people living there in a friendly, open way. I could see, that this rainy season did not bring enough rain for the acres and to let grow grass for the cows. And I was told that the children there are still do not go to school regularly, because they have to help on the farms.

And it was really strange (because I am still not used to) to visit the graves of so many family members who died at young age. I was shown the album with the family pictures. In Switzerland, you find in these books pictures of celebrating Christmas, birthdays and so on. Here I was looking at pictures of graduations from school and funerals. Crying children at the coffin of their young died mother. Crying parents at the coffin of their child. And I was explained „that’s me at my mothers funeral, that’s my uncle…“. I still have to learn so much about cultural differences and how to handle it for myself.

I am glad to know now more young people with whom I can talk about topics which are really strange for me, like polygamy, the role of women in the society and why showing your knees in front of men is the worst thing you could do as a woman…