Thursday, January 08, 2009

First Stop - Tanzania

First stop on this five-week journey is in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Located in on the east side of the continent, Tanzania is the birthplace of Swahili. I haven’t used Swahili for a year but by the time I finish teaching here and in Kenya I should have much of it back, at least enough to communicate well. Tanzania Swahili is what they call “safi,” or clean. Having worked in the bush of Kenya for 14 years, my usage of this trade language is classified as “upcountry” Swahili, not always grammatically precise. As I teach in Tanzania I will depend on an interpreter and will no doubt throw in Swahili words and phrases throughout.

One my goals for this trip is to put into practice many of the things I teach my students. As a quasi-anthropologist, I want to try to learn as much about the underlying reasons why people do what they do and use that knowledge to help them communicate the message of Christ more effectively. Tanzania has a history of political collectivism, patterned after Chinese socialism. They are also a unique sub-Saharan country as they have a significant Muslim population. Using the patterns of their worldview, what are the key issues within their social environment that can be used as a bridge for the Gospel? As I remind my students, it’s not enough to know the answer, we must be aware of the questions in each social context. My goal is to discover the questions and figure out how to connect the dots.