Friday, November 9, 2012

Tanzanian village dress and food

I love the clothes here.  I always thought that if I started dressing like the locals that I would look strange, or it wouldn't fit me.  I'm not used to so many colors!  I'd like to continue dressing this way back home but I think it would only work in the summer months.  I wear a piece of fabric draped over  a t-shirt, plus Aladdin pants.  It's easier to ride on the motorcycle with pants, so I wear these but they are loose so I'm not offending anyone.  Not that I think they would be seriously offended, just this way I blend in more.  

In this picture I just had my hair braided by a nice woman at another guest house here, in the style that many Tanzanian women wear.  It was nice for a day but didn't last the next day.  African hair stays in braids better. The above is not exactly how women dress here, but similar. Most village women I see wear a kanga, which is a skirt made simply from a piece of colorful fabric tied around the waist.  Many of them have quotes in Swahili.  I bought two kangas and one says "God loves those who are patient"and the other one says "Congratulations" and "God bless you".  I chose them for the pattern and didn't know what they said, but I don't mind.  At least it's not like the weird English they have on t-shirts and other things in Asia.    

Here is an example of how some women dress.  They are not necessarily Muslim to wear it this way, it also protects from the sun.  Sometimes I wear mine over my hair, but not usually.  I don't go around like this because I think I'm expected to dress Western or at least differently, so this is just an example. More often than not women will wear two different kangas, sometimes the same.  At the shops they come in two identical pieces.

The men on the other hand dress very western, unless they are Muslim and they wear a cylindrical cap I don't know the name of, and loose pants.  Sometimes in more heavily Muslim places like Zanzibar island they wear a white dress that probably has a name I never tried to find out.  Children are either in a school uniform or in clothes that look like well-played in second-hand clothes.  

Here I am in one of the villages I've been doing interviews.  I usually have lunch in the villages if I'm there for interviews, and sometimes they have treats like jackfruit, which I am about to eat in the picture.                                


That was my first time trying it, and I like it a lot, but right now it's not the season so it;s hard to get a good one.  I don't want to buy a whole one very much either, because they are often bigger than a watermelon.  It was nice to taste.

Here is a full meal that I had in another village.  I asked to try their "cocoyams" which are purplish and a bit chewy, but I liked them.  Some local greens I don't know the name of, plus a banana, and a mug of hot milk, makes a complete lunch.  I think milk is a relatively recent introduction to the area, and more people have cows now as a part of diversifying livelihoods and improving nutrition, or so I've read.  For many people here I think cows have helped them be more independent farmers and not have to work for others as much.


Another big part of livelihoods here is spice farming, which I think I mentioned before.  Cardamom was the biggest earner for awhile, but now I think black pepper is the expensive one.  Here it is on the vine:

The black pepper vine is grown along with a tree called Cydrella odorata, which as the name implies has a strong odor, and I hate it.  But I think it only smells when it is flowering.  But it will hit me when I don't expect it, and I usually don't see the tree it's coming from so I just grumble angrily to myself.  Anyway, growing the two together seems like a good system because Cydrella is a legume, and so fixes nitrogen in the soil as it supports the black pepper vine.  I ate some fresh pepper from the village but it isn't often consumed by the people here, just sold.

I will do another entry about my guided tour of one of Amani's trails, since it won't let me put more than 5 pictures in one blog entry.  


  1. Great photos, Kels. It's a nice insight into a part of the world vastly different from what I'm used to.

    Nancy left a long comment about the clothing, but it got lost in the whole captcha sequence.

  2. I like the outfits. They look very African to me. Very colorful.

    It's nice to get a flavor of how daily life looks there. Good photos.

  3. Sad! That's why I usually copy what I write before doing that captcha thing--I never do it right the first time.

    I'm still reeling that I'm even in Africa, but I'm glad to have this humbling experience.