Saturday, August 28, 2010

The International Market Day, Faribault

Today was the International Market Day, in Faribault, Minnesota. This is an annual cultural festival organized by the Faribault Diversity Coalition.

It has been just a week since I returned to Minnesota from Tanzania, but as soon as I arrived, I got a reminder from Milo Larson, chair of the Coalition, about this important event. He wanted to be sure that I would be there, with my books.

You see him here helping set up my table. I believe in the work of the Coalition and will always support it.

As in the past, there were vendors of food, crafts, and other products. There were games, music, and informational resources.
There were Aztect dances, as in the past, attracting a large audience.

I met some new people today, such as this lady, who, it turns out, had studied, like me, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What's more, she had taken an African storytelling course with Professor Harold Scheub, my dissertation advisor. It is, indeed, a small world.
This guy bought Africans and Americans and wanted to take a picture, with me holding Matengo Folktales.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Arusha Readers

Visiting Arusha is always a treat. There are many people to meet, places to visit, and things to do. One of my joys is meeting my readers. There are quite a few: Americans, Europeans, Tanzanians, and others.

This summer, I spent several days in Arusha. I met my friend, Thomas Ratsim. He and J.M. Tours, the company he works for, have been steadfast fans of my Africans and Americans book. Many American travelers with J.M. Tours have heard about this book from Thomas.

The guys in the photo, taken in the Tarangire National Park during my Hemingway course, summer of 2008, were all with J.M. Tours. They had read Africans and Americans, and they regaled me with tales of how it helps them deal with tourists.

I visited the Arusha Times, which once carried an excerpt of my book. I met Linda, an American fan of the Africans and Americans book, whom I have known for some time, and who offers cultural orientation for foreigners in Arusha. Knowledgeable and experienced, she urged me to write a sequel. Thanks to readers like her, I am working on one.

I met Ingrid, a European teacher I did not know before. She works with school children and likes story telling. She was familiar with my Africans and Americans and Matengo Folktales, and she shared some interesting perspectives on both teaching children and cultural differences.

There are other places I would have liked to visit, and other people I would have liked to meet, if I had more time. One is the Peace House School, where I once gave a talk on the issues I raise in the Africans and Americans book. There, Africans and Americans work side by side. The director thought it would be a good idea for them to have on-going book discussions as a way of learning about their cultural differences.

I would have visited the office of the Global Service Corps, an American organization that sends volunteers to Tanzania and recommends Africans and Americans on its website. I have visited their office several times in the past and seen copies of the book there, for volunteers.

I wish to thank all my readers. Their continuing engagement with my work both inspires and sustains me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Mosque Near Ground Zero

I have been here in my country, Tanzania, for the last two months. In the last few days, I have been following the controversy raging in the USA around the idea of building a mosque near Ground Zero, New York.

As a Tanzanian, I am saddened by the ignorance and Islamophobia that I see among many Americans. Here in Tanzania, we have mosques, churches and other places of worship everywhere. We know they have a right to be there. At the University of Dar es Salaam, for example, the mosque and the church are only a few yards apart, and everyone is comfortable with that situation.

As a Christian, I am used to hearing the muadhin calling Moslems to prayer, from every mosque, before sunrise and at different times during the day. These broadcasts are so much part of my life here in Tanzania that I miss them when I am in the USA, where I teach. The ignorance and prejudice I have mentioned exists also in so-called Islamic countries, and it would quickly rear its head if someone tried to build a church there.

I listened to President Barack Obama's speech in support of the idea of the mosque near Ground Zero, and I felt happy to hear the US Government defending a basic human right.