Wednesday, May 2, 2012

People Watching

Downtown Mwanza, Tanzania

Don't you just love people watching?! Maybe at the mall when you sit down for a few minutes before you continue shopping. At a ballgame in between watching the game. Or perhaps it's in an airport. Wherever you find yourself enjoying a bit of people watching, it's always interesting.

Here in Africa I have done my fair share of people watching. Really it can't be helped. Much time is spent waiting. (If you know a patient missionary it's probably because they've done a lot of practicing!) Well, today I wasn't waiting, but rather I was walking. Walking is another thing we do a lot of. It is easier - and safer - to just park the car and walk to all the stops we need to make in town. Today was no different. So since we have to walk, why not enjoy it more by people watching! What struck me today was...

  • Two men holding hands. I remember when we made our survey trip to Kenya and I thought, "Wow, I had no idea there were so many g@y men here!" In actuality the custom is for men to hold hands in friendship. You won't catch them holding their wife's hand, but another man's - definitely.
  • Neckties for sale. There are street vendors all over the place selling their wares. I saw one guy who had a nice array of neckties. The part that made me smile was the fact that they were already tied and ready to be slipped over the head of the new owner. I can think of a few guys in our sending church who would like one of those!
  • Dressed for a wedding. Ladies here wear their nicest clothes when they go to town. I often feel way under dressed in my jean skirt and t-shirt. One lady today had on a bright pink dress with sequins.  
  • Seasonal clothing. You would think we don't have seasonal clothing in Africa, but nope. I often see men wearing a tobogon and a winter 80 degree weather! But then I also break out the sweatshirts when it gets anywhere below 75.
  • T-shirts with sayings. It's always interesting to read the sayings on people's shirts here. With the language here being Swahili, and most used shirts being sold in English, it can be quite hilarious to read what they say. One time I saw a man walking down the street with a shirt that had an arrow pointing down and the word BABY above it. 
People watching doesn't start, nor stop with this mzungu (white person). We are watched continuously. From the time I walk out of my gate I have people watching everything I do. I also know for a fact that they find our kizungu ways quite entertaining. 

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:"
Proverbs 17:22a


  1. Hi Bill: Its seams that People watching is a world Wide passtime. I enjoy reading tidbits..Your Frind ..Fred

  2. Would love to be there to do some people watching myself. It is good to get an advance education on the TZ culture... Thanks Sister

  3. Tammy,

    We are missionaries in Uganda and we can definitely identify with these cultural ways. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh this had me laughing! I especially loved the "baby" t-shirt with the arrow. :-)

    And, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who wears a sweatshirt when everyone else thinks it is warm. Only my problem comes from the opposite perspective. In Ukraine we are so used to being bundled that we aren't used to feeling a draft. So when I start to feel one, I think I'm cold!

    Thanks for the smiles.

  5. Thank you all for your comments. I enjoy reading them and knowing how the Lord is using my posts to give you glimpses into our life and ministry here in Tanzania. It makes me happy when they make you laugh, think, and especially pray!