Tanzania and America
by Ben Swanson
In many ways Tanzania and America are opposites.
In Tanzania the people talk loudly, laugh loudly and yell louder still. Nightclub music resonates through the villages as the separation of commercial and residential areas seems nonexistent. Dogs, chickens, goats and cows surround every place with noises and no one seems upset.
In America people say less, laugh less, cry less and yell almost never. Every human interaction is quieter. Living quarters are miles from the noise of commerce and partying. One yappy dog upsets a neighborhood.
People say, “In Africa, you are never alone,” and they speak the truth. Alone time is rare in Tanzania. Even in a crowd, America can be lonely.
In America everything gets valued based on the Almighty Dollar. Goods, services and relationships get quantified. Time is money. Action is more important than talk.
In Tanzania relationships are number one. Time is cheap and spent easily. People are held up as eternally valuable. Talk is equally important or even more important than action.
America contains a maze of endless possibilities and options. Tanzania contains an expanse of open-ended possibilities. Both the maze and the lack of well-worn paths overwhelm.
I love both of these cultures and countries. I long for a happy medium, but I’ve never encountered one. For now, I will simply go from one to the other and enjoy them both.