Posts Tagged mzungu paradise

Been spending most our lives, livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

Hey, hey, heyyyyy

He keeps a blog – he can obviously do a little writing – but did you know this dusty foot philosopher can also spit mad rhymes and throw lyrical hooks with the best of them? (since when is Coolio considered amongst the best of them?) Well kind of anyways…

I moved into our new place in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago now and so for the first time I am not living in the neighborhood we affectionately named “Mzungu Paradise” last year. Loving the new place and new neighbourhood thus far – but maybe I’ll give some updates on that another time. Upon my immediate return to Dar back in August, I was fortunate enough to be taken in by our awesome neighbours from last year while I looked for new housing and so I found myself living back in our same apartment block once again the first three weeks. Ah, how the memories came a’ floodin’ back and inspired the creative juices.

I very briefly discussed some thoughts about the neighborhood and housing we were set-up with in a past post -  and I also promised in that post to someday publish the world-wide debut of my alternate lyrics paying homage to our previous home. Well my friends, despite what CCR sings, this someday has finally come.

This production is based upon on a great tradition – begun while working at Hidden Acres and Fraser Lake Camps – and then honed while a member of the Bare Naked Frosh cover-group at Grebel – and so it is continued here. Taking the music of a popular song and changing the lyrics around for comedic/poetic(?) purposes. This is an art people. I have debated whether it was a good idea to post – but what is the internet for if not for freedom of speech/freedom to express crappy art? I certainly don’t want to cause controversy here or sound ungrateful for anything – I’m just poking some fun.

Orient your geographic-self with the neighborhoods of Dar es Salaam:

View Mzungu Paradise in a larger map

To give credit where it is due – the lyics below to Mzungu Paradise are roughly based off of Coolio’s – Gangsta’s Paradise and then really just changed into a simple rhyming pattern –  and also maybe a little of Weird Al Yankovitch’s parody – Amish Paradise. It is also probably necessary to pay homage to the original Stevie Wonder’s – Pastime Paradise. If you don’t know the tune – listen to them!

Mzungu Paradise

As I walk through these dusty streets of Dar es Salaam strange/

I take a look at my life and realize there’s been little change/

Cause life ain’t that hard for a mzungu like me/

When you live and work in the heart of Masaki/


If I had to speak more swahili that would be nice/

but it’s tough to learn when you live in Mzungu Paradise/

Only had to eat ugali na maharege once or twice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


At six in the mornin’, I can have a hot shower/

With our huge generator you know we never lose power/

You see those Tanesco rolling black-outs are just nothin’ to me/

But you know that this convenience has never come free/


Had to take a taxi home more than once or thrice/

Cause there ain’t no public transport here in Mzungu Paradise/

But  for the peninsula life you must pay the price/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


I drink my coffee every morning from a french press/

Cause this AfriCafe instant shit just doesn’t impress/

Who’s idea was the pleather couches in this Dar heat?/

Jer, I’ll trade you for the bowl chair in a heart-beat/


Sippin’ Konyagi with zee Germans once or twice/

Sittin’ at the massive table in Mzungu Paradise/

A bigger kitchen than would ever suffice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


It’s a long way back to the university this at night/

Gotta stay ’till the bajaji’s come again at first daylight/

And that’s not just a line, you know that its true/

My smooth efforts aren’t that see-through/


Rockin’ mustaches straight outta’ Miami Vice/

As we roll through the paved streeets of Mzungu Paradise/

Just call our no-pants roof party ‘epic’ if you must be concise/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


Sub-Saharan Africa ain’t so bad in this air-conditioned place/

Sometimes if you want sleep you just gotta embrace/

Living posh here amongst the Embassies and NGO’s/

Now you wish you didn’t know where your tax dollar goes/


It can be embarrassing, but can also be nice/

All these luxuries we have here in Mzungu Paradise/

Mixed feelings, but hey – it’s been a real slice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

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and this episode is called…Season 2

Hello viewers,

All apologies for the lengthy delay in the release of Season 2 of and this episode is called… I’d like to blame production delays or a union strike or something else out of my control but really it’s just been the fact that I didn’t get around to finishing this for post for the past 5 months and it has sat 75% complete in my drafts the whole time. Life got busy with visitors, work, and more travels hand this always takes longer to write up and post pictures than I think! It was tempting to just leave it be and die a peaceful death in draft mode –but just hated being this close and not publishing it so I’ve got my act together and put this bad boy up.

It seems the ratings on Season 1 were satisfactory enough for the network to pick up the shows and so Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off at the end of October 2009 and takes us through to the end of December 2009. If you don’t know what this all is referring to, I would encourage you to take a quick read of Season 1 and the explanation at the beginning of the post.

With no further delay, I present the episode guide to Season 2!

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Days filled with red, green, and blue  – November 1st -9th

Finally managing to get out of Dar es Salaam and see some more of the real Tanzania, Dan heads to the south of Tanzania to get a better understanding of MEDA TZ’s programs in the field. The dirt is bright red, the trees and bright green, and the sky is beautiful blue and goes on forever.

For a trip recap and photo tour – check out this earlier full episode post!

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The colours and faces in the crowd

Mama Kikwete and Me – November 4th

The work trip to Ruvuma results in Dan being present at a regional program launch where an accidental meeting with the first lady of Tanzania occurs. The awkward mzungu moments don’t stop there though as a case of a mistaken identity throws our hero into the forefront of the event. The prospect of a speech in a new language in front of several hundred people and the first lady? Hakuna matata. “Mambo vipi Madabe? Malaria Haikubaliki! Asantini sana”

For full episode recap and photos check out this earlier post! Update: This episode has now been published in the latest version of the MEDA Marketplace magazine! p.s. Does this  make me super-menno?

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How not to act out the word “Kinderpunch” – November 9th

Dan returns from his roadtrip (I heart 14 hr bus rides) to join a group of friends gathered at a apartment for a delicious dinner, and later, a game akin to charades and Taboo. The word “punch” is one of the words given to our German friend Michael to act out but the meaning is, well…lost in translation. Roll on the floor/pee your pants/so hard it hurts – kind of laughing ensues when Michael, to our delight, goes ahead repeatedly trying to act out the German Christmas morning “kinderpunch” scene but ends up in some compromising positions.

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The case of the mystery txt msgs from Celine Dion – November 1st, 9th, 13th…

This episode begins with the aforementioned Michael giving the your Canadian heroes a hard time about how we all must love listening to our #1 export to Tanzania, the music of Celine Dion. As Dan later enters a hotel far away in Songea later that week, the music of Celine fills the reception. A random urge to record the love song lyrics in a text message and send them to Michael is executed and repeated every time he hears Celine for the next few weeks or so. What he doesn’t realize is that back in Dar poor Michael didn’t have his phone number in his phone and so he’s convinced for the next few months he’s receiving love notes from a mystery woman. Near, far, whereevvvvverrr you are…

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Tuesdays with Morrie Nancy – Tuesday evenings, November 10th, 17th, …Dec 8th

Our heroes enrol in Kiswahili lessons in an effort to force themselves to keep learning since it can often be difficult to practice and learn living in Mzungu Paradise. The teacher is a kind middle-aged woman named Nancy, but she doesn’t know what she is in for with her three new students. With each passing week the homework and sentences made up in class get more and more ridiculous as they bring in the street slang Kiswahili learned from friends and their own immature humour into the particular lessons of that week. Maybe this is why our heroes still have horrible Kiswahili after months of living in Tanzania? Maybe, but it’s made for some outrageous things said in class, great laughs with Nancy, and turned our Tuesdays in the classroom with Nancy into something to look forward to.

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contemplating island life

Island. Music. Fever.   -November 13-15th

The weekend is filled with trips to the north beach and nearby island of Bongoyo for lots of sun, football, and exploring. Sunday night holds an amazing concert with some of Africa’s biggest music stars (Angelique Kidjo, Emmanuel Jal, and Youssou N’Dour) performing in Dar. And finally, a bad fever hits our hero. The doctor rules out malaria (so the “I survived malaria in East Africa – 2009” t-shirt order must be put on hold for now) but in a rather relaxed manner tells our hero that “it sure looks like H1N1 to me”. A bit of a scare but luckily it was not and our hero recovers quickly to continue the adventures of Season 2.

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hold yourself back

“so…are you here with the moustache guys or what?” – November 12th -17th

In honour of the great prostate cancer fundraising initiative Movember – and because it is awesome to have an excuse to grow gross facial hair – Jeremy and Dan shave their beards down to moustaches for a week. Most Tanzanian friends and co-workers just think we are actually trying to look good (we did look good. damn good.) and the joke factor of young guys rocking moustaches that exists in North America seems to get a little bit lost. A night out at the Alliance Francaise cultural centre (yes, we do visit such high-brow cultural institutions) provides the episode title when a random guy tries to pick-up our friend and asks the episode title question in disbelief.

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Lushoto viewpoints

The accidental Nachtwanderung–November 18th

Three characters head off for a weekend trip to visit the Usambara mountains in the Lushoto region north of Dar. Several hours and a few different buses on Friday afternoon/night takes the gang within a 30 minute drive of their final destination by 9pm and they arrange for a pick-up as all local buses have since stopped. Fast forward to 2:30am and the gang is hiking the last few km’s into Lushoto town in the pitch black of night after a few hours of stop and go car trouble. Beautiful hikes, chameleons, amazing farm fresh food, and Lion King-esque vistas will follow…as if those stars weren’t worth it already.

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Wake up to make-up – November 25th & 26th

It’s Friday morning, about 10ish and our hero sits at his desk when a horrific thought leaps into his mind…oh crap, did I remember to wash the make-up from last night off my face? The episode flashes back to explain how he got into this particular predicament the night before (and to keep our faithful viewers/readers from starting rumours). While having drinks after watching a comedian perform at the local community theatre, a make-up case is discovered left at our table by the previous occupants. Somehow it becomes a good idea to dress up Dan with eyeliner and lipstick (we are at a theatre after all people) and he spends the rest of the night with a painted face and a top hat. Luckily for him, the morning shower took care of what he forgot before showing up for work and he narrowly escapes having to give some awkward explanations to co-workers.

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I’m on a boat?– Nov 27th

There’s something about a hazy wake-up to find you are on the roof of a random wooden boat floating out in the warm waters off the white sand beaches of Zanzibar and watching the sun rise up and slowly light the clouds bright orange and pink …something about this that just provides the perfect ending to a night/starting to a new day. Hmm, can’t quite put my finger on what it would be – let me know if you figure it out.

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It’s the pirate juice that makes you dance on the bar – Nov 28th

The Zanzibar crew hire a boat to take them down the coast to a more tourist-oriented beach party than last night’s affair in nearby Kendwa Rocks. Why go by boat? – as our new waiter friend says “why not?” Excellent point and we have no counter-argument. As Kevin Garnett would say “anything is possible!”. Zach and Jeremy befriend a bartender and invent a new drink- pirate juice in honour of Zach’s Somali pirating compatriots. One part pirate poo, one part gold, one part sea water, and one part Konyagi – hold the pirate poo. More dancing, more craziness, and even a dance party on top of the bar.

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Mock awe of the roof top views of Dar harbour  from the Kempenski hotel

A rooftop tour of Dar es Salaam – Dec 1st

Our main characters meet up with friends for a celebratory drink and choose as the location the rooftop bar above Dar es Salaam’s fanciest hotel for it’s rumoured nice view. After a pricey drink or two and a nice but not amazing view over the harbour at night – we learn of the existence of another, higher up but slightly less “legal” rooftop viewing area to tour. Crawling through a broken glass window atop a office tower yields some very beautiful night time views of Dar – well, until security shows up.

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Poor BBQ never quite recovered

Somebody forgot to tell us it was a Wednesday night – Dec 2nd

Our heroes decide that it is time for them to use their apartment to host yet another bash with our friend Elvis in town for a visit and imminent departures. Their Mzungu Paradise apartment is the venue and they invite their Dar social circle over after work for a “make your own pizza” dinner and following party. Sounds innocent enough for a Wednesday night – but not with this group. The party goes late into the night and a particularly brave group heads out on the town but the problem is…bars often don’t really have closing times in Tanzania. Dan wapi? No worries, everyone makes it to work by 8!

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A different kind of German D-Day – Dec 3rd

This is one of those sad episodes where a major character gets written out of the plot by the producers. It’s sadly a often reoccurring theme over here in this ever-shifting Dar es Salaam community and this one is the first of many departure days. It’s Steffi’s last night in Tanzania and the group gathers for a last party at zee Germans place to bid farewell. Live swahili guitar playing and singing keeps the party going late and lots of goodbyes are said. Could perhaps our cast re-unite for one of those cheesy TV reunion special episodes where you find out what happened to all the main characters when they all grow up (like those Saved By the Bell spin-offs)? Only time and lots of peer pressure for Germans to come visit Canada will tell.

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Your friendly neighbourhood action hero – Dec 12th

Dan and Jer decide to take a mini-weekend trip to nearby Bagamoyo just an hour’s dalla-dalla ride north of Dar. As they negotiate prices outside the bus, your hero notices someone walking away with a phone just like his in hand. A quick check in his backpack and yep, its not there anymore so the suspect is tailed. He realizes it soon enough (I kind of stand out) and a full out chase is on through the winding alleys on the Mwenge neighbourhood. Good triumphs over evil and the walk back through the winding alleys gets some props from the residents who watched this unusual action based episode live from the pubs, shops, and homes. Thankfully, no thieves were mob-beaten in the making of this episode.

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hey True North strong and free, consider yourself stood on guard for.

The mission statement is..ummm…Miss Uganda? – Dec 15-18th

It’s MEDA Tanzania’s staff retreat and the Canadian trio is busy in the weeks heading up to the event with planning and logistics. In one of those, “Okay Zach, I will believe it when I see it with my own eyes…oh my, my.. its true…” kind of moments, we learn that the Miss East Africa 2009 competition is being held at our same hotel the duration of the retreat. A great retreat filled with days of powerpoints and group discussions and nights of beers with co-workers is capped with your heroes even singing a rousing version of O Canada at the staff Christmas party. I was never good at memorizing those organizational mission statements anyways.

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Up above the clouds on Mlima Kilimanjaro

It’s Kili Time – December 25th-30th

Tanzania is the land of Mt. Kilimanjaro and your hero likes adventures and high places. It’s a match that was meant to be and so the plan is hatched for a solo mission to the roof of Africa over the Christmas holidays. In one of the greater last minute decisions in history – a good friend from back home decides to move some work flights around to join the trek on less than two weeks notice. Climb mountains? Dan and Pavan start up the 5,895m of Uhuru Peak on Christmas morning and successfully summit to an almost full moon and sunrise 5 days later. Check out a full photo guide to the episode here on Flickr and photo summary here on the blog!

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What's up MTV Africaaaaaaa? Welcome to my crib.

Hello MTV Africa, welcome to my crib –- December 31st – January 3rd 2010

Out of the freezer and into the oven. Dan and Pavan make it down of their frozen mountain top perch in time to catch a flight taking them to meet up with the his sister and the rest of the group in the tropical heat of Zanzibar (Round III!) for new year celebrations. The group’s reservation at some beach bungalows are “lost” and they find themselves homeless with no free beds in the tiny village. Never fear, this is Tanzania and life seems to just work out. The group ends up making last minute random connections and renting a beach front villa for the 3 days resulting in the filming of the very first MTV Cribs – Africa episode.

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I realize that this still leaves me many, many months and episodes behind – but I am sad to say that I think this will be the last …and this episode is called post for this time here in TZ. I lost motivation awhile ago to try and keep track and write these up and so the series will have to end here with the end of 2009. I assure you, there have been a few noteworthy episodes in 2010 thus far and perhaps some will make it into some future posts – but most likely you’ll just have to hang out with me in person sometime to hear them. How unfortunate for you.

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Some ramblings on “doing good” in this crazy world we live in and then what’s next for this guy

Alright, so the topic of this post was originally meant to be the very first or second post on the entire blog back when I had legitimate hopes that this would actually include some kind of deep and philosophical posts -hence the blog name. Well, that didn’t so much happen but I have still wanted to get a chance to bore you with these incoherent thoughts and I heard somewhere that the first shall be (almost the last?) blog post so here we go!

Disclosure: I do not and don’t claim to know what I am talking about when it comes to the hugely complicated fields of international development and foreign aid. What I know and what I will proceed to ramble on about is a little bit of my experience and personal feelings at the time of writing. I hope we are all cool.

Secondary Disclosure. This post is pretty much one fluid stream of consciousness and writing – pretty much raw and possibly not making too much sense. Once again my homies, I hope we are all cool.

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In the beginning…

How did I find myself here working in the international development sector? While, I think that  interest goes back awhile to a childhood growing up in Bolivia and some belief because of this that I wanted to have this international experience of my own – but that’s a whole different story. More recently, I found myself attending an international education conference in Los Angeles in April 2009 where Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his amazing efforts at eradicating poverty through micro-finance efforts was the main presenter. I would highly encourage you to check out some of his talks or his books if you are interested. Needless to say, it was an inspiring speech – a kick in the arse if you will – to get up and out and do something a little different.  And so I looked at what my options were and decided that I could probably put my “skills” to use by getting into the business end of the international development field. After all, profit or non-profit, the need for business aptitudes and good people is all the same so applied to a posting with MEDA which was looking for someone for an 8 month assignment in Tanzania in the area of business development and communications. Yada, yada, yada and a few weeks later I had myself a serious “should I stay or should I go” decision on my hands.

Some ramblings on apparently “doing good things” over here in Africa

When I accepted the position here with MEDA Tanzania and began to tell friends and family that I would be taking off to work in Africa for the next year and received a wide range of responses but often a common theme involved a “good for you”/”you are doing something good in this world” kind of line of thinking. Every time someone would make a comment like that I felt a twinge of guilt. What if I am just doing this for purely selfish reasons? I want to travel, I want to try some new work, I want to see the world, I want to get the hell as far away as possible from a mortgage and its locked in responsibility in Toronto before its too late to just pick up and take off like this.

The view from the balcony of 35 High Park...A hundred thousand mortgages twinkle in the Toronto night

I mean, I assure you there was much more to the decision – I have always been interested in international development and wanted to gain some experience in the field, I was a member and involved with MEDA for several years prior and always admired their work, and I did also have a legitimate desire to put some of my efforts towards some kind of a greater purpose than the pleasing Board of Directors and shareholders. (Not that there is anything wrong with working for private sector – I know countless people who give much more to greater causes through other efforts than most people working in non-profit sector). But despite these more legitimate reasons – I definitely felt quite uncomfortable with this line of thinking. Maybe it adds a bit more pressure on you or maybe I just don’t like these kind of conversations but the uneasiness certainly existed.

And what have you learned?

As I mentioned earlier, this post was supposed to be at the beginning of my time here and talk a bit about some of my thoughts and concerns around this topic before I started. But now I have been here working away and my contract is coming to an end  - so what have you learned Dan?

Well, for one thing I haven’t exactly had to make a lot of sacrifices in my life living in Africa. It wasn’t what we expected at all, but life in Dar es Salaam is not always so different than back home for us so the level of personal sacrifice is definitely not that high.  I mean, if you’ve seen some of the photos from my many travels around this beautiful country – you know that it hasn’t always been so rough. We also happened to end up living near our work offices in what we would end up naming ‘Mzungu Paradise’ – not exactly an accurate sample of the average Tanzanian standard of living. (p.s. Stay tuned for the exclusive publication here on the Another dusty foot philosopher blog of the lyrics of the soon to be hit single “Mzungu Paradise” based off of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise (which itself was a re-working of a Stevie Wonder song- (i just learned that now. (If you haven’t noticed yet, I love tangents)))). I do very much have mixed feelings about this side of the experience and how we have often really not had to make those sacrifices and experience a bit more of the real life over here but that’s really a whole new topic for discussion and debate so I’ll just leave it at that and move on.

Life is a sometimes literally a beach...weekend trip to Mafia Island, Tanzania

The day-to-day and the bigger picture

Another thing that I suppose has surprised me a bit but working in development isn’t really all that different than my work before in a lot of ways. It’s very much like every other business I have worked in and that’s likely because international development is very much a business. There’s no shortage of work, of late nights in the office, of stress, and of waking up in the morning and not wanting to leave your bed for work. It’s bloody competitive to win new tenders and you have targets being set and projects to execute or your organization will fail – just like in the private sector. I regularly go days without my mind even thinking of the “greater goal” of these projects, of how it will help Tanzania meet the Millennium Development Goals, or of the beneficiaries who will sleep protected under these mosquito nets. Probably a bit too often, it seems to all just be purely numbers.

One day, the “bigger picture” did indeed hit home during a particular taskforce meeting last year. It was a bit of a tense meeting as all of the malaria partner organizations met and dealt with one issue or another which was popping up and effectively laying waste to well made plans. As things became more heated one of the head people just stopped the discussion and reminded all of those in attendance that…yes, we will have our challenges such as this but what we cannot do is lose sight of the bigger picture. What we are all a part of here in the malaria sector in Tanzania is something unique. The world is watching what we are doing here in Tanzania and it is by and large a massive success story that will be used as a blueprint in many other countries to fight this endemic.

It was one of those moments that helps put it all in perspective and yeah, it does feel good to know that whatever tiny, tiny part that I have managed to play while over here has contributed to some small part of that success story in the making.

One friend told me before leaving (jokingly..but true enough) - you are just what Africa needs, another white guy going over to help. This picture is for you Mark.

And where do we go from here?

So what’s next? Well, that is something that I need figure out. I’ve been looking seriously at both options – staying abroad and working in the international development field  and also returning home and likely heading back to some unknown private sector job. Some of us over here have been doing lots of reading and talking about the development sector itself and whats done wrong and what is going right. If it’s part of the problem as some people seem to be arguing -than that is something more to consider, especially joining the ranks of the many expatriates working here in Dar and being paid with the aid money. But that’s a whole different discussion once again so I’ll just leave that be. I do honestly think I would be at peace with either path – sometimes you can’t always try to answer or tackle these bigger questions and need to figure out whats best for yourself too.

Okay, so this has been a decently long ramble now and perhaps I should wrap-up but I hope it’s been interesting to you. I know just writing some of this out has been somehow useful to me as well. So, are we all cool?

Thanks for listening,

Dan

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