Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Little Bit of Culture

While sitting in our Swahili social culture class, it was asked what would happen if a woman were to propose marriage to a man.  Circling her head with her hand in a gesture likened to a holy motion to God, our teacher smiled and replied, “God forbid.”
   Apparently, here in Tanzania, it is a shame if a woman needs to propose to find herself married.  Kwa sababu (because), here, it is the man who marries, and the woman who is married.  Want to know why?
Did you know that generally, here in beautiful Tanzania, it is the women who construct the homes?  In fact, it is the woman that creates, builds, and maintains the homestay while the husband is out working.  She builds, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she cares for the children, she washes, she sweeps, and can aptly be named the backbone – or foundation – of the home.  The father works and provides, while the mother handles and preserves.  For the man, our teacher explained, marriage is easy for them, hence the word to describe their married state is a short one: kuoa, or “to be married”.  For the woman, the word is longer, and a bit more structured: kuolewa
   Fun fact: boys as young as 4 years old can be the sole guard and attendee of a herd of cattle or goats (or both). 
   Just the other night there were three hyena spotted in the area.  The guards were on alert, and the townspeople were abuzz with gossip the next day.  No one likes a hyena, and they especially do not want them around their homes.  I couldn’t help but think of the three hyena from Lion King – Shenzi, Ed, and Banzai – creeping their way around Rhotia to cause trouble.
  Fun fact: Chameleons are often killed because they are believed to be bad luck, and if left alone they may climb into your head.


  1. Gee, almost like here....almost. Have you seen the hyenas? Are they creepy too?

  2. We have not seen hyenas yet, but we're told that in Serengeti they'll be our best friends, because they're everywhere.