Charlie 4 – Cultural Integration

7th November 2013


Mambo Shemeji!

It’s been a busy week for Charlie 4!  The construction phase is well under way and the action research has now been completed. Our action research has been an educational process for everyone.  We have learnt so much about the community’s views on subjects such as the preparation of water, personal hygiene and environmental issues.  Turning up to a stranger’s house to be welcomed with open arms has been a fascinating experience for us.  The masundi (builders) love us too – each day they seem to find even more tiring jobs for us!  We’re all really enjoying the new Tanzanian workout program…



Juma, our local shopkeeper, has become a big part of the Charlie 4 family.  Since arriving in Nkonkilangi we think Juma’s English has improved more than our Swahili – that’s not to say we haven’t been trying!  For example Shemeji is our new favourite word.  It literally means brother-in-law and the locals love being called it.  Everyone in Nkonkilangi has a lot of patience for our broken Swahili – even just getting the numbers right when ordering a soda seems to bring a huge smile to their faces.  I can’t say we’re all fluent yet though but we know enough to have a laugh and joke with the community, especially the children at the local primary school.  We’ve lost count of the number of times each day we say ‘mambo’ and ‘poa vipi’ but that doesn’t stop it making us smile! 



In the spirit of community integration we did things Tanzanian style the other night and killed 3 chickens (to celebrate our only vegetarian team member’s birthday…), using every last bit of meat!  Without doubt it was worth the 5km walk in the midday sun to find them and bring them back to camp!  We can all thoroughly recommend fried chicken with ginger and garlic.  On the subject of food there is nothing the UK volunteers love more than a mess tin full of ugali…and there is nothing the Tanzanians love more than a plate of supernoodles!  We are all trying so hard!  We think we have found a middle ground with rice, tomatoes and onions, not forgetting of course that everyone loves some super-ghetti (spaghetti with instant soup sauce – you’ve got to love Raleigh rations!).


We think it is fair to say that if someone told us a year ago we would be in the middle of Tanzania with no electricity we would have laughed…but here we all are with no phones and not a care in the world.  Our whole team is definitely missing home but luckily we have our Charlie 4 family here. The locals think that the next step in cultural integration is our dress sense…stay tuned for some African themed attire!

Peace Shemeji!