Discovering Tanzania and RLabs Iringa

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During September we had a team from Cape Town who visited our family in RLabs Iringa and we’ll be highlighting the trip over the next 3 weeks. Our first guest article is written by the incredible Nicole Sands who gives us a good overview of Tanzania, her personal experience and some insights into our precious RLabs Iringa team.

Brent Williams, one of the RLabs team members, says, “In any situation, you have to make the most out of an experience otherwise you won’t enjoy yourself.” Letting go of my assumptions and being open to this new experience is what matters most to me.

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I think, maybe, my moments would have been less fleeted, exhilarating and fun if I had not listened to Brent. I left Tanzania with many things, most of all a renewed energy and joy. Rabia and Nathaniel teased me, about not wanting to come home. To be honest I did, but the week in Tanzania was a dream. These were my discoveries in my time spent there.

Swahili one of the most spoken languages in Africa
There are over 120 languages in Tanzania. To maintain national unity the government made the official national language Kiswahili (Swahili) which is now one of the most spoken languages in Africa. It sounds very rhythmic, my favourite phrase spoken was ‘Karibu Sana,’ which means ‘you’re welcome.’ We heard it often, at the airport and when walking through the town. The Tanzanians were so open, friendly and accommodating towards us. They were very patient when I asked them to repeat, translate or explain things.

The cost of data and using the internet in Tanzania
Coming from Cape Town, it’s rural and people live in tough situations. For instance, water is a scarce commodity, yet people find solutions and deal with challenges head on. Most Tanzanians are farmers, builders, tradesmen, labourers and entrepreneurs. Their knowledge about agriculture and the eco-sustainability measures are extensive since they rely on it for sustenance.

One practical example, where technology was used in an effective way, was by one of our directors of RLabs Iringa, Yusuf Sessanga, who now has a thriving chicken business of 800 chickens. He uses the internet to help him manage his business, when his chickens fell ill he was able treat them by diagnosis and remedy through conducting research online.

He told us that he truly realized the power of the internet when he was able to hack through his challenges to find the solutions he needed. Another factor, to his advantage is that Tanzania’s cost of data is substantially cheaper than ours. For example, on Znet for one gig’s worth of data you pay, 10 000 Tanzanian shillings which is equivalent to US$5. It’s encouraging is they’re using the internet in meaningful ways, not just for Facebook. Affirming that it’s not technology that drives and economy but how we use it to improve living standards. That will make all the difference.

Importance of Cultural Heritage and celebrating Heroes (Old and New)

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Chief Mkwawa (The legend of Mkwawa)

His tribe won fame by defeating the Germans at Lugalo on the 17th of August 1891 and maintained resistance for several years until he decided to kill himself. In the name of his tribe Mkwawa is derived from Mukwavinyika, which means conqueror of the lands. The German colonists, found his dead body, chopped off his head and took it back with them. His skull was only returned on the 19th June 1954 and is housed at Kalenga in Iringa.

Mkwawa was a leader who understood the value he had in his people and his land. Something that against all odds he fought to uphold, keep and in the end prepared to die for.

Celebrating heroes of new ‘Yusuf & Anoldl’
Like Mkwawa, Yusuf Sessanga and Arnold Luwagho, understand why people are important, to them tapping into the potential in every individual and helping them to realise it, is what drives them.

Arnold

Arnold’s cultural heritage stems from the Mkwawa, he explained how some of the youngsters are interpreting this story wrong and are killing themselves, but he’s set out to change that by sharing life and truth with these youth, in imparting leadership and entrepreneurship skills. His also known as “Pastor Arnold” and is full of inspiration and smiles.

They love their country and are passionate about investing into their land through positive impacts. Yusuf & Arnold are a lethal team, they are always seeking to push boundaries. They’re the hub directors of RLabs Iringa and support a team of approximately 30 members, whom have partaken in training through RLabs. Most of the members are participating in their Grow Next Level course while running operations within the centre and their own projects part time.

 

Other Interesting facts about Tanzania
Chai is the word for tea in Swahili
Tanzania is now a ‘yellow fever,’ free zone
They have a natural cure for Malaria, Eucalyptus

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