This is just a quick one, a lot of people say I was crazy from going to Africa, by myself. Yeah well maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I’ll leave that up to the eyes of the beholder, but the point, relatively few Asian Americans make their way to east Africa, so I’ll share a few (brief) surface level insights about how I was treated in both Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
Dar es Salaam
Well first thing off the bat is of course getting stared at by everyone, you’ll get used to it and occurred in both countries. Passerby’s on the streets will shout “cheena” (which means Chinese) at you. Me personally I got used to and didn’t pay too much mind to.
Of course it also depends on the area you are in, somewhere more foreigner centric will lead to you drawing less attention while the opposite is the case for a more local place.
Besides that (and the occasional hawker) the Tanzanian people (in my experience) are generally friendly and gentle people. Courtesies are commonly used such as:
Habari How are you
Shikamoo I respect you
Well this one is a bit of a contrast compared with the people in Dar. One could say it is the difference between capitalism (Kenya) and socialism (Tanzania) leading to the different mentality of the people but that is not for me to speak on. People in Nairobi are much more direct with curt words and brash actions, heck people will just bump into you if you are in the way without apology.
As for my direct experience, racism is quite common, especially among the less privledged members of society. I won’t get to specifics but it’s more than any I encountered in any other country I’ve been in.
Verbal confrontations among locals trying to rip you off (especially on buses) also very common.
But eventually you just grow a thick skin about it and take it as a learning experience.
Kingston S. Lim
May 26, 2021
San Francisco, California
About Kingston’s Journey Series: Kingston’s Journey is a lifelong series. This is the travel journal I take with me. Whether you have questions such as how to change my life or how to travel the world, I think you’ll find value in the life lessons I’ve experienced and documented in this travel notebook. They may serve as travel inspiration for you. In Chinese, there is a saying, “讀萬卷書,不如行千里路.”
This means, instead of reading ten thousand books, why don’t you walk a thousand miles. This is my inspiration to travel every nation (or as many as possible) in my pursuit of my global MBA by learning as much as possible and recording these life lessons learned only by travel. In the end, I think the achievement of dreams, personal growth & aspirations out there through travel and adventure will lead to a more fulfilling life. Living and experiencing the “now” is how I’ll make my life a great memory in the future.