Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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15/9/12: language and money

Now a full week here and starting to feel that I know where things are.  Achievements this week include being ruled fit to work here which is a bit of a relief, really!  Interesting to encounter private medicine, question number one, how is 'this' to be paid for, question 2, what is 'this'?  And coming to terms with the idea that ATM machines don't usually correspond to the large street signs announcing them, which takes a bit of getting used to.

Language is a fascinating issue here.  The overwhelming majority of people speak at least one tribal language, with Swahili then being the language in primary schools.  This switches to English in secondary schools and further in education - my work, therefore, is entirely in English.  One might imagine that there's little need to engage with Swahili, but it rapidly becomes apparent walking around and engaging with people that this is simply not the case.  So the drive to learn Swahili is on in earnest!  Prioritising little and often with many people willing to help.  So when Fabian the ICT technician came to my office to sort out a minor problem, I was ready with, "Asante kwa kuja" - thank you for coming.  To which he replied, "Asante kwa kushukuru" - thank you for your appreciation, which I duly wrote down in my notebook and have now learnt.  Looking forward to being able to go into shops etc. and work entirely in English, but perhaps not just yet.

Money also takes a bit of getting used to.  There are 2500 Tanzanian shillings to a pound, so constantly having to lop off noughts to get a comparison.  Have to be careful, as I discovered in Jamaica with a mere 130 dollars to a pound - very easy to be out by a factor of 10!  Although actually I tend to find it the opposite way.  So when I bought a mango, a papaya and some bananas and paid TZS4000 I found myself outraged at the price - until I reflected that this is £1.60 and considerably less than one would have paid in the UK, with the quality of fruit generally much better corresponding to the fact that it hasn't had to travel.  I'll get to coconuts on the street some other time!  My colleague Darcy has a theory, which I strongly suspect to be right, that there are different prices for white people.  Could haggle, of course, but don't really have the heart to do so unless the prices being charged are outrageous - in which case I'd be inclined simply to walk away.

Went for a walk today in the peninsula as it's called, the rich end of town where many of the embassies are - despite the fact that Dar Es Salaam hasn't been the capital for something like 15 years!  Was rather taken by the United Arab Emirate embassy:



not sure this picture reflects just how grand it is!









And coming here fully expecting to see coconut palms:














but I have been surprised to see thatched roofs:














Thank you for reading, I'll be back soon!

2 Comments to 15/9/12: language and money:

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PAULINE on 23 November 2012 05:15
Lovely sharing which contains a lot of info about the language and money. I am so pleased and want to thank for informing this valuable issue in this website. I just want to say that it will be more handy to us all. Thanks...
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Geoff on 23 November 2012 10:11
Thank you Pauline - 'asante kwa kushukuru' - thank you for your appreciation. Delighted that you're enjoying my blog and finding my discoveries useful. Do come back, or contact me privately if there's anything else you'd like to ask.

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