Living in Tanzania requires a lot of patience.
The average meeting runs about four hours long, or until the sun goes down. Greetings when you enter a room can take upwards of twenty minutes. Make sure to eat before going to a restaurant since it will be at least two hours till your order arrives- and it will take at least thirty minutes to locate a server when you are ready to pay your bill. Also, bring snacks to church since you’ll be there all day.
Then there are things I am embarrassed to say I have learned here. I have learned compromise. The need for compromise is in every society, including my homeland of the United States of America. It is embarrassing that it took total removal of things I find familiar and comforting to learn compromise. I should have arrived with this skill.
When all things familiar have been stripped away, the things you are drawn to are the nuggets of commonality, no matter the casing in which they are set.
I have learned that compromise is by no means a “loss” but rather progress and sensitivity to a collective humanity. And yes, we need to be reminded of each other’s humanity, our fallibility, and the grace with which we are cultivated. Compromise establishes a slower and gentler orientation to change in which all persons evolve from their initial understanding of an issue. Compromise is not a stagnant one-time agreement, but an establishment of an intention to work until there is a solution.
Compromise is love. Compromise is a promise of a future.
Our guard had to leave early today. He went to be with his wife in the hospital. He said he though she might be having a miscarriage.
Oh no, this would be her third one. How old is she?
I think 16.
Well that makes sense. At least her husband is willing to be with her during this time.
Yea. I hope more young husbands are being open and involved with pregnancy and sexual health. Maybe I will talk with him about contraception. He may be getting pressure from family to have a child.
Wow, he seems nice.
He is, he is very patient, and good with his kids.
How many kids does he have?
Oh… his poor wife.
Well, he has three wives.
At least that burden isn’t on one woman.
Right, and he treats them all well. He pays for his children’s schooling and he doesn’t beat them.
Good evening Sir.
Good Evening Madam. I see you are staying in Kenya for a week. What will you be doing?
I will be on holiday.
I see. Are you married?
I don’t see why that is your business.
You are beautiful. You should be married, or do you not like Africans?
I don’t want to marry anyone.
Not even me?
No officer. Not even you.
I am rich.
I am too expensive. Three hundred cows.
I have. I can pay.
But you must transport them to my father in America. Can you pay for plane tickets for three hundred cows?
Let me speak with your father.
Ok, when I return from Holiday. If you let my friends across too.
She must be fired. She broke the rules.
What did she do?
She hit a child.
Did anyone explain to her that we don’t do that here?
No. But it was in her contract.
I understand. Hitting children is not ok. But if that is the only discipline she knows, she will be very confused when she is fired. What else was she supposed to do? And she will not have learned anything.
What do we do with her then?
Give her a warning. But I think we must do training on alternative methods of discipline for children. This way there is something tangible that we give her to replace with corporal punishment.
(whisper) But that man is beating a child!
I know. Mzee Boniface will handle it. A white person will not help.
That man will do whatever you say if you look angry. You are white. When you leave he will be even more angry and probably blame the child for his embarrassment and beat him harder.
If another African man talks with him he will be less threatened.
We need to save all of the Girls from Circumcision. All are welcome!
How will we feed them all?
How will we find enough women to take care of them?
How can we guarantee their safety?
God will help us.
Or maybe we help 40. We can afford that.
What about the ones who cannot come? They are not safe.
I know. What did we do last year?
Nothing. But we banished all of the families from the church who circumcised their daughters.
Maybe we start by educating parents now. And plan for hosting 40 girls. That way, more families will keep their daughters safe without needing to send them to camp. And welcome those families back to church that you sent away last year.
Thats not a perfect plan.
But it is better.