Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Culture of Tanzania

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Yesterday, April 30th, at 7pm there was an event on the first floor of Compton Science Center hosted by Frostburg State's very own Steria Ndaga. Steria is a native of Tanzania and she came to America for a better education although she had already studied at one of Tanzania's own universities. She was introduced by Mr. Thomas Serfass before her presentation commenced. He spoke of the “challenges” she must of went through to get to where she is today.

She titled her presentation "Intergrating Pastoralists Livelihoods and Conservation Planning: How do Maasai Perceive Land and Use Changes in the Loliondo Region Tanzania" and after a thorough background on Tanzania's culture, she explained the modern problems suffered by the Maasai people. This public presentation of Mrs.Ndaga's data was done to partially fulfill a requirement for her Masters of Interdisciplinary Education with a focus on Wildlife Biology. Her accent was very thick when being heard by someone not use to it, after a bit it became more fluent and after making her audience laugh a few times she relaxed a bit more. One of the most memorable moments was when she had problems pronouncing the word “stroller” and said that people from Tanzania refrain from stroller use by wearing their babies in a type of sling on their backs. Mr.Serfass brought to light the fact that before coming to the United States she knew approximately 4 languages!

The intro consisted of a wide variety of “fun facts” ranging from such things as articles of clothing, Tanzania being home to the Serengeti plain, the local fauna, the size of the country and Mt. Kilamanjaro being the tallest mountain in Africa. Swahili is the official language for the country while English is considered to be the language of “business”. The cities mentioned by her powerpoint as attractive tourist destinations were Dodoma, Arusha, and Dar-es-Salaam. Tanzania is also home to one of the planet's greatest hoofed migrations.

Tanzania is home to over 120 ethic tribes(the Massai being one of them) and these tribes utilize a variety of methods for survival. While hunter-gatherers are still popular in Africa the style used by the Massai is pastoralism which is a sustenance pattern of life in which people make their living by keeping herds of livestock. The Massai live in bomas, huge sets of land enclosed by fencing; not unlike how the native americans used palisade fencing to protect themselves. The men make the mud-huts and the women make the fences. The traditional diet of the Massai consists of the blood, milk and meat from their animals with the occasional grains thrown in. They'll bleed an animal then let it recover using the animal to replenish its supply.

What Mrs.Ndaga intends to do with her research is form a basis for discussion among the Tanzanian government, stockholders watching the land, tourism, wildlife control and the Maasai people themselves.

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