This past weekend my fellow interns and I decided to explore the former capital of German East Africa, Bagamoyo. A small coastal town, Bagamoyo has so much to offer in terms of art and culture. It was such a nice change of pace and scenery compared to Dar es Salaam. We decided to stay at the Funky Squid, which was run by a lovely family; the husband was from originally Montréal, the wife was originally from Burundi and, their young daughter already spoke Kirundi, Swahili, French and English. On our first day in Bagamoyo we explored the downtown area and saw many fishermen hard at work. It was such an amazing experience to see an entire supply chain in one area. Looking out towards the ocean you could see the boats and nets; by the shore fishermen were loading up their carts to bring the fish to the market, and on the shore many people were scaling, gutting, and selling fish. There were also vendors nearby selling dried fish, fried fish, and fresh produce. Overall, it was such an amazing experience to just observe all these people going about their daily routines, which are so different from our lives in Canada.

On the second day we rented bikes and toured more of the town. The heat was nearly unbearable and all of us wished we were wearing shorts, tank tops, or no shirts at all. However, being in Bagamoyo we were more aware of our clothes and knew it would be inappropriate to be shirtless or show more skin. The book Into Africa: A Guide to Sub-Saharan Culture and Diversity has helped us so much in navigating through some of the cultural practices here in Tanzania and how we should interact with people. During our bike ride out to the Kaole Ruins we had a local randomly join us. He was very kind and when one of us fell ill from the heat he bought a water bottle to help and refused to be reimbursed for it. As we continued riding around the town there were many ruins, which told a story about Bagamoyo’s past colonization. The Kaole Ruins were once apart of a mosque built back in the 13th century and the German Boma was built-in 1897 as Germany’s colonial administrative office. We later learned from fellow QEScholars, Kirsten and Kate that the Boma was going to be renovated and used by The African Institute of Maths Sciences. The Boma is not the only old colonial building that will be renovated as many other ruins have been remade into small businesses. Bagamoyo is continuously growing as more people are starting to invest in the area. This becomes more apparent when one looks at Baobab Secondary School that has started teaching Chinese language, calligraphy, and kungfu. Chinese foreign direct investment continues to be a recurring discussion in our group as we find more news reports talking about the billions of dollars that China is spending in Africa. What is interesting though was earlier I found a newspaper article that had a quote from Tanzania’s Vice-President stating that, and “We cannot accept funds on condition of, say, endorsing same-sex marriages; this cannot be tolerated. We shall run our country using our own money and resources,” (Kisembo, P., 2016, October 17). Perhaps the appeal for China’s foreign direct investment is in part to the fact there are few strings attached compared to other Western nations.

Later that day we went to Phuket Pub, which showcased traditional dancing, some bongo flava music, and the odd Justin Bieber song. We appreciated the whole experience, since we are frequently in a bars full of expats and not locals. Thanks to Kate and Kirsten we were able to make new connections with their friends and local artists who create amazing Tingatinga paintings and offer safari tours. It was also great to speak with Kirsten and Kate to compare our experiences in Tanzania so far. What we learned is that living in Dar is more expensive, Bagamoyo’s Tanzanian culture is more prevalent, but regardless of location Tanzanian people are kind and caring. Our last day was spent buying souvenirs for friends and family back home and talking more to Kate and Kirsten. Bagamoyo we won’t forget you!

For more information:
Chinese to be taught at a Bagamoyo school

Tanzania won’t accept conditional aid
Tanzania: World Bank’s China Warning Dismissed

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