Heads up! This post is continued from Part 1/2: Giraffe in the homeland – 8 weeks volunteering overseas in Tanzania. Here we go!
White Girl on the Run
Mzungu. The term was first used to describe someone who wanders around aimlessly, and thereafter became used to refer to white people in their attempts to colonize the African continent. Every morning, when I would go running with one of my fellow volunteers, we would hear Mzungu shouted through the streets. Running every morning was a great way to familiarize ourselves with the village. Often young people would run beside us laughing as we took to the paths in our sneakers and running gear, only to get showed up completely by some guy blowing past us in flip flops. The area around the village used to be inhabited by a diversity of wildlife including giraffe, antelope, lion etc. but nowadays the only animals seen by the villagers were the odd hyena, snake or smaller animal wandering the bush. Thankfully, the hyenas were nowhere to be seen during out visit or this story may have been told in the form of a memoir instead of part of an ongoing blog.
As we got to know the people we worked with and lived with in the village, we soon acquired kiswahili nicknames. This is how I became Twiga, kiswahili for giraffe. With a nickname like Twiga, I was a hit with all the kids in the village. Okay, in all fairness, it may have had more to do with the soccer ball I carried with me everywhere I went and less to do with the nickname I had acquired.