Monday, March 21, 2011


A lot of my students are very sick.  East Asians would say that they have a weak qi 氣.  One of these student passed out quite a while ago, and I didn't see her for two, three weeks.  I was told that she has a heart propblem.  Could it be epilepsy?  What is epilepsy?  She came back last week, and I was glad.  But today, while I was teaching an adjacent class, I heard this large thump and a roar.  All my students dashed out to see what's happening, and I soon followed.

I got myself through the crowd of students to see her, sobbing as she sat on the floor, with her legs spread straight forward and her head down, much like one of those pouting dolls.  Though a lot of people were watching her, very few approached her.  I was confused.  I had to be careful with my actions, as she is a girl, and physical contact between opposite sexes can cause controversy.  I am also very ignorant in these emergency medical situations, so I hoped that another teacher, who was teaching in the class, to take initiative.  He hesitated, so I stepped up.  I pointed to a couple of healthier looking girls to carry her to the office, but with the given chaos, there was some delay in action.

Suddenly, I heard the words "in the name of Jesus Christ," really loud in Swahili.  KATIKA JINA LA YESU! This may sound comical, partially because of the light tone of the Tomzanian, but it sure wasn't.  I have realized that two of the more religiously inclined students were performing exorcism on this hijab wearing girl.

I was shocked.  Could she really be possessed?  I am a Christian, and I have attended very conservative churches in the past (in fact all my life), quite often listening to tales of exorcism.  Some very vivid tales indeed, and I believe them too.  I am also aware that exorcism is present in the Tanzanian Christian culture, often portrayed as a part of a story in television drama.

Upon the act, she didn't exhibit any of the reactions that I have heard or seen about exorcism.  No yelling, cursing, nor shakes.  She just cried as she did before.  But then one of the boys grabed her chin, and continued his passionate attempt of exorcism.  Her sob became a large wail, and that's the last of her I saw in the classroom.

Was it my impulse that led me to flee the uncomfortable situation?  I wanted to make larger room for her, so I tried to disperse the crowd. and by thus, leaving the scene.  She was eventually taken to the laboratory to calm down, and went home later.

It was just really confusing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Role Reversal

A key feature foreigners claim as their's is the ability to be dumbfounded by a local cultural experience, remark on its strangeness, and blog about it.  For example, about eight months ago when Daufiki was still an infant, his mom busted out her breast to feed him in my presence, to which I was at first surprised, then thought how strange (and big) it was, and almost blogged about it.

Yesterday on my way to the market, I passed by some students and a former colleague.  I thought it would be a nice gesture to share something with them, so I gave them a passion fruit each.

note its thick skin

They were at first a bit surprised, looked at each other with a smile, and after a short pause asked "how am I supposed to eat this?" 

You just peel it with your teeth or you take it home! Can't you just acknowledge it as a nice gesture!

I wonder at times how stupid we foreigners must look.