Experiencing Tanzania for half a year

We had many community meetings Yesterday, I returned from Tanzania back to Austria. After six months of volunteering for the Kilimanjaro Hope Organization (KIHO), I am able to look back to a fantastic time in this East African country! It was a time full of learning and creating new bonds across cultures and boundaries. I have practically learned how to approach and work with local communities and realized the need to work with group initiatives. Also, I had the opportunity to meet and live together with various community initiatives from the rural areas. In this blog post, I want to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you during these six months in Tanzania.

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The rising divide between Christians and Muslims in Tanzania

In early May, “an act of terrorism” disrupted the consecration of a church in Arusha. A bomb blast outside this Roman-Catholic church killed two and injured 30 people. Until today, it is not yet clear who carried out the attacks, although six people have been taken into custody, among them two Christians from Tanzania and four individuals from Saudi Arabia. During the past years, Tanzania has been passing through increased religious bigotry, although the country experienced for decades a high degree of toleration between the two main faith communities in this East African country.

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One currency for East Africa

Believe it or not: already in August the East African Community (EAC) wants to conclude a monetary union that should be signed by November 2013. The five head of states decided in Arusha, Tanzania, just one week ago that they want to achieve a further step in regional integration, hoping that a High Level Task Force consisting of senior experts will finish all negotiations in some months and resolve the outstanding issues. According to Rwanda’s “The New Times,” Rwanda’s Minister for EAC Affairs Monique Mukaruliza said that the issue of a single currency was in its final stages of conclusion.

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Tanzania celebrated a unity that is under threat

On Friday, Tanzania celebrated its 49th birthday. I spent the day in Tanga, the third biggest city in Tanzania, a humid city at the coast of the Indian ocean. Tanga was known as one of the industrial centers of the country, but experienced a break-down from which it never recovered. I was not able to discover any enthusiasm, any special event nor any parade dedicated to the anniversary. Yes, some people were gathering around TVs to watch the big parade in Dar es Salaam, headed by President Jakaya Kikwete. However, such gatherings would also take place when a popular show would run on TV and for sure many more people would be around when an English Premier league match would have been shown.

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