A Conversation Among Dadas


imageBy Elin Winbladh

| Last weekend, I was going to Arusha for the day. Since my piki piki* had a puncture, I took a boda boda* down to the dala dala* station (everything that is good, you say twice. Except taka taka*, or dege dege*). It was a very hot day, and the windows of the overcrowded bus would not open. The women started removing their multicolored headwraps and used these beautiful kitenges* to cover up the windows and block out the sun. All of a sudden, we were sitting in the stomach of a colorful Chinese dragon.

During the very hot bus ride, I got into conversation with a Kenyan woman next to me. We talked about the recent Kenyan election, the corruption and violence of the last election, and the problematic standpoint of many Kenyans: if the fight was already set up to be between two bad guys, why participate? Or if the opposition is being cut down with machetes, why oppose? Then this rebellious woman said if you have an opinion and don’t share it, you deserve to be ruled over. I love rebels! When talking about my work of teaching communication, she said, great, then you can teach the kids to say God TRULY hates corruption, and I have an opinion too, and Listen to me, you mad politician. What an interesting woman! Sometimes its difficult finding women who speak their minds here, but when you DO find them, you get a lot. It was a nice hour on the bus, she even adopted me as her mzungo* dada*. And then, as usual when arriving at the Arusha dala dala station, I was attacked by the tinga tinga artists and resellers. Mzungo, buy this! Dada, look here. Yup, mzungo dada.

* piki piki – motorcycle or scooter

* boda boda – motorcycle taxi

* dala dala – private minibus, lovingly described as “overcrowded and dangerous”.

* taka taka – garbage

* dege dege – fever

* kitenge – fabric

* mzungo – westerners

* dada – sister

* tinga tinga – colorful Tanzanian painting

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