I am sorry for taking so long to write this post. I had very hectic days in the office and then with Christmas preparations and the trip to Colombia I didn't have time for anything else.
Well...Tanzania was just amazing. During 10 days I learned a lot from their culture and enjoyed their way of living. The workshop was held in Dar Es Salaam and I arrived with my boss almost four days before the workshop actually started. We had time to prepare with the other facilitators and get ready with materials for the sessions. The workshop lasted for three days and after that we had almost other three days to debrief, have some meetings and do some shopping and sightseeing.
The experience itself
It was the fifth of a series of workshops we have developed around the world to test the toolkit on ethics education that we are preparing. The testing was very good because it allowed us to see how the material could be used in the East African context and it also helped us to collect inputs that will be used to improve the toolkit.
The workshop aimed at enhancing children's ethical values and nurture their spirituality. I believe we helped them to learn how to be more open towards people who are different, think differently and act in different ways . I also believe we cultivated seeds in them to act in peaceful ways and to transform the world.
We had a "Journey for Peace", where we visited different religious places. We went to a mosque, a Catholic church, a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple and a Baha'í center. The idea was to learn how to put themselves in others' shoes and to enhance their ability to see things from a different perspective, leaving behind their prejudices.
Definetely the worst things I experienced in Tanzania were the marked footprints of colonialism, reflected in some of the behaviors of people and embedded in the culture itself. Having being a German colony from 1880s to 1919 and then a British mandate from 1919 to 1961, Tanzania suffers from what I would call the syndrome of the "ugly kid", who considers himself ugly and less worthy than his friends, has a low self-esteem, looks up to others as idols and lacks self-confidence. I experienced something similar in Sri Lanka and with some communities in Colombia. I really believe Tanzanians are amazing people but need to be empowered with skills and attitudes to develop themselves.
I also got the opportunity to learn a little bit about the Massai. The Massai are an indigenous African ethnic group. In the picture below you can see how they dress and how friendly they look. I also got a Henna drawing in my hand and went to a spice trip in Zanzibar.
This was a really amazing experience and I hope I will have the chance to experience Tanzania and other African countries more frequently.
One of the things I learned from this experience was the importance of the community for the people in Tanzania. This country is based on relationships and gives little importance to individualism. Like in Sub-Saharan Africa they consider a person a person because of other persons. Isn't it beautiful? This is called ubuntu in Swahili and also in the language of southern Africa. Rev. Desmond Tutu defines ubuntu in the following way:
"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed".
Don't we all need ubuntu? Don't we all have something to learn from the African culture?