Work with the Legal and Human Rights Centre has been really interesting. Even simply listening to the cases teaches you a lot about the human rights situation in the country.
I’ve also had the opportunity to go to the High Courts of the country, which teaches one about the issues in the legal structure that the country faces. I have also been lucky enough to attend a conference regarding the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Having studied about the court in my masters degree it was interesting to get a more local perspective about the work the court does and the struggles and problems it faces in ensuring its success.
However, the laid back attitude of the locals has required some adjustment on my part. The hakuna matata approach to life, the ‘African time’, the friendliness (sometimes over friendliness) of some of the locals and more. It’s a different way of approaching and tackling life, very different from what I’ve experienced in other countries I’ve lived in.
Overall the experience has been wonderful and enlightening.
It has been very interesting to get to know the local way of life further over time. It has been extremely interesting to see how different beliefs co-exist peacefully. The massai have their own set of beliefs, whilst islam and christianity also have a very strong foothold in the country. Yet people do not seem to place much importance on difference in beliefs but rather focus on similarities and live in cohesion along each other.
When I went to hospital I saw an Imam go next to a non-muslim woman and pray next to her to help her with her pain. It was his way of helping, she thanked him – a simple act of kindness. It was a very interesting act to be a witness to considering the tensions that generally exist in Europe, especially the tendency to consider Islam and muslims and synonymous with ISIS. This does not exist in Tanzania, and it is not to say that the people do not know of ISIS and the claim that they are muslims. However, Tanzania people make the difference between ISIS extremism and local friendly muslims effortlessly. The awareness of the difference is not restricted to any class or age – from children walking to school to adults shopping for groceries, religious differences are treated indifferently, with none being irrationally labeled as terrorists due to a group of extremist fanatics.
There is definitely something the western world could learn from.
Rita Bonello 2016