What Do I Want From Tanzania (Short)

Today I type from the patio. The daily power outages force me into nature’s office. Birds whistle, sing and cry. Roosters crow. A cow I haven’t heard before bellows a hello.

The gardener sneaks out the back gate assuming I didn’t notice or uncaring that I did. The housekeeper, who joined our household three days ago, bangs a mop into furniture as she shines the grey tile floor.

My legs crossed beneath me, fit comfortably between the arms of the chair. The red, olive and gold geometric patterned cushions provide local flair.

An orange spider drops from the ceiling and lands on my hand. I swat it off and wonder what will land next. Last week a juvenile house gecko fell into my hair.

I’ve just finished my Swahili lesson for the day. I wonder how long we will live in Africa. Will Swahili have value to me this time next year?

Swahili Words:

Kuomba (to beg of/pray for)

Kutaka (to want)

“Should I use ‘naomba’ (I beg for/pray for) or ‘nataka’ (I want) when I request a bottle of water at a shop?” I had asked my teacher.

He told me to use naomba. It is polite and proper.

I queried further. I explained that a few weeks ago a man corrected me when I used naomba. He told me that naomba was begging for something for free and if I was going to buy it I should say nataka.

My college-aged teacher laughed, his sizeable white grin contrasted brightly against his dark skin. “Was he Kenyan? Kenyan’s speak very (harshly),” he said.

Naomba it is.

What is it that you want out of this life?

With that, I ask myself, “waomba nini” (What do you want)?

What is it that you want out of this life (in Tanzania)?