Karibu

5 06 2011

Karibu

Tanzanians take great pride in welcoming visitors. Karibu means welcome in Swahili. We visited a church service, surrounded by some two thousand people. A man came up and wanted us to know that we were welcome. Everyone is very curious about us everywhere we go. And when the cameras come out…forget about it. But when I appear with my sound gear (headphones, mixer rig, boom pole, fuzzy microphone cover) I get the strangest looks. As one member of our crew observed, it’s like people are thinking to themselves, “that is the craziest iPod I’ve ever seen.” Assuming they know what an iPod is. As if I didn’t stand out before, my equipment makes me feel positively alien. But one smile can change all that.

Mai, a Tanzanian television news personality, joined us for after-dinner conversation tonight. She asked us what we have really liked about Tanzania so far. Responses included the vibrancy, colors, language and spirit. For me, the first thing that came to my mind was that spirit of Karibu. Welcome. Everywhere we go, there may be someone uncomfortable with what we are doing, but the people’s curiosity usually wins out, and someone is always friendly enough to approach us and to first welcome us and to ask us about ourselves. It’s adorably charming, and humbling, and gracious.

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