Greetings from Tanzania

I have been very struck here by greetings. Everywhere we have gone we have been introducing ourselves,
and it is very important to say your full name, details of your family, and then to bring greetings from greetingsyour family and church communities. It has been an interesting thing for me to navigate because if I say I’m single then everyone laughs and nudges all the single men and then I have to deal with endless questions about that. If I send greetings from my parents then everyone thinks they’ve done a bad job by not making sure I’m married at my great age! So I have settled on bringing greetings from ‘my family and my churches’, and that seems to be working!

It is interesting that in the UK when we greet each other we often immediately ask each other what we do, here they say they ask ‘who is your uncle’? Establishing family connections and knowing names helps people connect to each other. There is still such a strong sense of community here, people looking out for each other, and of love and support. It highlights for me another thing that is lost from our society at home. It feels a constant challenge to build a strong sense of community, and I wonder how possible it is when we move in and out of areas much more and are not involved in the lives of our neighbours in the same way? I wonder what it would do if we did ask each other a different question as a greeting? One that values our connections rather than our productivity. Maybe I will have a go when I am back: ‘Hi, I’m Jo, tell me who is important in your life?’

 

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