TRIP TO TANZANIA: Fractions of Family Affairs

be selective with whom you share your soul to.

In 2016 I spent my Christmas in the motherland Tanzania and met the new year under the same sky. I exchanged winter for summer and confronted 2017 sat beside those closest to me… those closest to the roots of my family tree.

DAYS IN MOSHI:

The early mornings were a struggle, both a blessing and a curse. We experienced a full day but bared witness to it through the lenses of sleep deprivation.  

NOT CRANES, BUT STARS IN THE SKY

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img_2690In the distance of the mountains, past the sounds of chirping birds, moving leaves and a running river, singing is heard. The faint sound of community and unity travels through the hills and small mountains of Moshi.

I found connection in natural land that the city of London could not offer me, somehow I felt so compelled to the smells and the sounds that London’s city lights could not compare and a knowing sadness easily came to me.

Something about witnessing a town sheltered from the rain and blessed by the sun, unlike those around it seems almost holy.  

A blessing. Although I understand that this is the London-raised girl in me speaking against the dull skies of my city and not the native Tanzanian unwelcoming to the dry winds. 

THE ROOTS OF MY FAMILY TREE

Her hands shook with weakness, but her face displaced a long history of strength and bravery. It is rare to find many these days who openly wear love and an honest vulnerability, but along her laugh lines both qualities sat perfectly as a pair. Visiting a great auntie of ours triggered a change within me. In front of me sat 90 years of experience that my 19 years could not match, nor relate to but admire in a way one could only admire an elder – awe. 

fullsizerender-1History holds the ties of our family, wirings and knots which link us to one another and through this we understand life, experience that we must witness through a pair of eyes that are not our own.  

I consistently

fall

in

love

with words that are spoken from sophisticated tongues, tongues which rest heavy with the weight of life’s lessons.         
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I learnt of kindness and I was met with a gaze that shared the same familiar longing for family that I did. 

 

 

 

LEAVING A MARK

Today we planted trees along the hidden bushes of Moshi in order to leave behind a legacy and to restore the land. It can be said that we blessed each plant with the power of community, family and pure happiness. The laughter and chaos moving away from our family and toward the trees so that they may be filled with richness. *Walking, or shall I say sliding down the hills, I had realised that my footwear was not the best. 

The chaos of the situation, the thin planning and the spontaneity was enough to convince me to find my own roots amongst the trees of Moshi, it was enough to create a want and a hidden need within myself to place my own feet firmly in the ground and refuse to leave. I longed to remain and never return to London.

 

LOST IN CONNEC/TRANSLA/TION

We sat in a circle, as family affairs with Christ and religion were laid out upon the table. It was confession out of love… confession in the purest form. Words spoken and tears let out, I felt moved by the devotion in the room. I felt I wanted to be more, do more, be better and do better. An uncle of mine spoke to me shortly afterward and left me with the reminder that most families do not often unite without reason, but ours comes together not out of obligation but a want… and a need. 

We forget sometimes, the unfamiliar familiar intimacy that arrives with the presence of distant family and the shift that occurs within us, as if something of a longing has been fulfilled. Years without visitation and yet it is until we’re all sat amongst one another that gratitude sits deep within me and a longing that I had not known until that very present moment is fulfilled.

 

“It can be said that we blessed each plant with the power of community, family and pure happiness…”

Big City Dreams & Small Town Sentiments

“I did fall in there and that was love and you did catch me and that was love.” — ANNE SEXTON

“Who here has ever left the country?”

..a mere fraction of the class raised their small arms in response, confusion and pride synchronised on their small faces in conjunction to the majority who wore shame in a way that they themselves did not and could not understand.

I was 14 when the above took place. I was the minority when the above took place. I was prideful, innocent, judgemental, naive… when the above took place.

Growing up, I’ve taken for granted the opportunities presented to me, the returns to my home country during the winter season, exchanging Britain’s chilling winters for Tanzanian sandy beaches, easy weather and an inviting dialect. Or even the escapades to Spain’s busy cities and tourist attractions. It wasn’t until I was spread out on the sandy beach of Palermo, Sicily, surrounded by both natives and tourists, exchanging laughter and conversation in an unfamiliar language how lucky I was to be here, struggling to make sense of the fast-paced conversations, how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to  live out that particular experience.

It saddens me to know that there are some out there, who have not only been unable to leave their home country, but worse so that they are not in possession of a passport. We speak of the right to move freely as a human right, but it is the majority, rather than the minority who are unable to put into action this right to its fullest extent.

Driving towards Palermo International, sat in the back seat of a cab, it hit me as I peered out of the window… how strange it is to think that there areimg_1901 people who live in the sunny city all year around – make friends, study, create memories, fall in love… grow old. All of this ‘living’, moving, seeing happens with the shores of Modello’s coast and Palermo’s mountain line in sight.

 Travelling, I believe, opens up our eyes to the unfamiliarity of familiar exchanges of those who share different cultural practices to our own. It teaches self-growth, shakes up an understanding within ourselves, of how small our own world’s are, how our own insignificant cultural norms appear almost a spectacle to those unfamiliar with them. I think it builds an appreciation in ourselves for own lives, but also creates a longing for further experience, to explore the world further in ways we do not even know of yet, to create memories in small towns and big cities.

I think travel teaches us to dream bigger, better, teaches us to expect more of ourselves and of the world. 

Epiphanies & Quarter Life Crises

YOUR BECOMING DOESN’T RELY ON THE SUPERFICIAL THINGS. " -Juansen Dizon

Something that my father has always expressed openly is the importance of self-commitment, of self-expression and holding close the most genuine parts of our soul. I was raised to keep a steady expression, even if my voice quavered, I was taught that my small legs at the age of 7 could take me to wherever it was that I felt drawn to… whatever it was that felt right to me. It does not matter what carriage or plane or boat we take, nor how bumpy our ride is, but that our mind and soul is steady in knowing that the direction feels right.

I have always struggled with resonating with one particular identity and wearing it permanently, the thought of permanency frightens me, and I change my goals and visions more frequently than I browse online clothing sites. I play with personalities and identities in order to suit my latest discovery to add to my collection of self-identity, maybe I’m just sentimental for a childhood that was taken too quickly… you know like how we used to play those games where you would switch up a character’s top, shirt, dress, shoes, hat etc. in order to mismatch?

Maybe, doctor Freud would say that I internalised a too soon stolen game of identity matching, or ‘Guess who?’. Or maybe, I’m just 19 years old and overwhelmed with the possibility of being anything I put my mind to… maybe, I just want to be everything because I can be everything.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that it is less of the reason, or more of the journey that is important, the process of drawing together your shirt… your shoes… your dress is no different to the process of laying out your career, your degree, your friends, your belief.

The discovery is in the journey, and what a long and tiresome one it shall be, but what a small price to pay for a sense of self.

Crazy Idea: “Chocolate” Isn’t A Compliment!

“I can’t even look at myself naked while I change out of body into the poem.” — ANA BOŽIČEVIĆ

The issue with fetishisation and exotic terminology is that it creates a sense of negative uniqueness and hyper-sexualisation on the basis of race, in doing so it also implies that whiteness and white-features as the default, stemming from colonial ideas of “the other” and intrinsic racial differences. This emphasises differences and contributes to the global hierarchical placement of individuals and groups of peoples on the basis of race, also stemming from racist colonial ideas.

The attraction of race or in extreme racial preference also works to blur the lines of internal cultural and ethnic differences and instead clusters a race or ethnicity together, more so it indirectly impacts those that are not placed within this ‘exotic’ category, by washing out those within a culture who do not hold these stereotypical features of exoticness.

Beyond this it also does another thing – dehumanises and objectifies individuals on the basis of race and racial features, as a black woman it is not a compliment to be referred to as “chocolate” or any other food which shares a similar tone to my skin, the over-sexualisation and comparison made on the basis of my skin also reduces me to the colour of my skin tone and reflects racist undertones through placing emphasis of my own attraction on merely the colour of my skin.

In other cultures, and ethnicities, the same issue appears although in different forms, for example the fetishisation of women of East Asian descent, particularly Chinese women and the image and characteristic of passiveness placed upon them. Fetishisation is usually followed by infantilisation of these woman and is a dominant feature of what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Asian fetish’. I’d like to think that it is obvious why this itself is problematic (hint: sexualisation of child-like features… anyone?) and so moving onto the implications of this, it too abolishes individuality and forces an entire ethnicity into one box. This can also act as an oppressive tool in the same way that patriarchal ideas and stereotypes act as an oppressive tool toward women in primarily western societies.

It’s important to note that in writing this, my point is not to state that it is wrong to find attraction beyond one’s own race, but rather it is wrong to find attraction in another race because the attractive individual is of a particular race that one deems attractive.