Tracing my family’s footsteps

Lake Babati, Tanzania in the 1950's, around the time my grandfather lived there. Thanks to for the photo.
Lake Babati, Tanzania in the 1950’s, around the time my grandfather lived there. Thanks to for the photo.


My granddad grew up in Arusha, Tanzania. He loves to tell stories about hiking up mountains and warding off snakes.

I grew up wanting more than anything to explore this foreign place. I wanted to see the mountains and the snakes, to understand the Swahili words my grandfather spoke and to meet the Tanzanians who still live there now.

This summer I’ll be working with Farm Radio International as an intern. I’ll be traveling from mountainous Arusha to coastal Mtwara, working with local radio stations on participatory radio projects. FRI has 500 partner radio stations throughout Africa who benefit from its support services like scripts, training and research projects. I’ll be working with just a couple of those partner stations in Tanzania.

Radio is an effective medium to promote change, because it is cheap and accessible to people who are illiterate or have low literacy. Radio with an agricultural focus is all the more important in developing countries like Tanzania where 80 per cent of the population are farmers. This important work is what I will have a small role in.

When I first called my new bosses in Tanzania, their comments were not what I predicted.

“Do you realize how dangerous this country is?”

“You’re never going to understand the Tanzanian culture in two months. You have to stay for at least six months to become productive.”

I want to learn as much about Tanzanian culture as possible, but I know I won’t fully understand it after two months. Tanzania is a huge, diverse country. About the size of Ontario and with a population bigger than Canada (45 million), there’s no way I will completely understand Tanzania when I leave it in June. There is so much to see and appreciate.

What I do learn though, I’d like to share with my friends and family through this blog. I hope to make at least one good video, audio or print report, so that I’m not the only person benefiting from my internship.

By tracing my family’s footsteps, I hope to learn a little about the Tanzania that enchanted my ancestors so long ago and what that country has become today.

When I was about to end the skype call, one of my bosses added, “We want this to be the best experience of your life.”

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