A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Monday, October 03, 2005

Students Strike at University of Dar es Salaam

Well the past 24 hours here on campus have been pretty exciting. With students awaiting their government loans and the daily stipends that come with them dragged on in to a second week, the student body has taken action. My roommate is a high ranking official with the Student Union so he has kept me updated about the possibility that action would have to be taken against the government, but it seemed unlikely until yesterday.

Around 1 A.M. Sunday night/Monday morning, I heard loud chants and the approaching sounds of drums and yelling. A group of 800-1000 students(who mind you are not typically up this late) began their official protest and marched throughout the vast campus. I could hear them in the distance until about 1:35. Without their government stipends some students have been unable to eat, and I heard that a girl had passed out on campus yesterday, from not eating. So this was all pretty exciting, and my roommate was appreciative and glad to know that the International students supported their decision although we certainly dont understand the whole situation. Anyways it was decided by student leaders, that the student body would boycott classes today and for as long as it takes until their loans are processed. To avoid any repercussions and avoid trouble the international students decided to skip classes as well today.

I was walking down the hill in front of our building at about 10 this morning on my way to finish registering for classes when a sizable crowd of 1,500-2,000 turned the corner and I was just about a hundred yards away. Not worried, but also not wanting to be involved in a political demonstration in apart of the world where dissent is not always handled legally, I returned up the hill and watched the procession pass. Most of the students were boisterous and many had signs. Apparently one of their chants in Swahili and roughly translated as "The government rapes students" So this was all pretty wild and unusual stuff for me. The University expels students after 3 continuous days of strikes, so I have heard that students will skip tommorow, go Wednesday, skip Thursday and Friday,and so on, until a resolution is reached. So I realize that many of you are reachign the midterm portion of the semester and my brother has been in school for almost 2 months, but I still have yet to attend a class.

It is not unprecedented for the University to shut down for a semester because of something like this,although that still appears to be a long shot. I think their is a bit of concern that the government will distribute the FFU, a special police force that just yesterday used tear gas and batons to control an unwieldy bunch of citizens who were having their houses torn down by the government. Again that seems still a longshot, but that would escalate this situation and I would be able to quote the famous Ron Burgundy "Things really escalated quickly" So hopefully it all works out, although its very interesting to be here for all this and to see what an angry student protest looks like. Nobody seems to upset, or all that organized for that matter, but I guess anything is possible at this point. We will have to wait and see, but I will stay out of trouble and will not be partaking in any rally/protests, although some international students did.

On a lighter note I went in to downtown today for lunch and some shopping at a grocery store, lots of things available, although about 1/5 the size of an American grocery. Got some items and bought the Will Smith DVD collection for 12.00 US. 6 of Will's finest movies on one DVD. Hitch, Men in Black 1&2, I,Robot, and Bad Boys 1&2. So about 2 bucks a piece and the quality is perfect. These are forsale in basically a mall, so its great that Tanzania doesnt care about pirating. America needs to get on this cheap dvd/5 on 1 disc thing.

Leaving Posta at about 4:00 is always a bit exciting and today we decided to play a fun game. Each person who boards must pay 20 cents and the driver and money collector were in my opinion trying to set the new high score in "How many Tanzanians can we fit in 1 bus" This is not a particularly fun game, and when 1 person would get off about 4 would come on. I just barely made it on the bus, so I was packed tight from the start and things got progressively more crowded. Im glad to be a part of the new high score in this great game, haha. A record is a record, no matter if it wasnt so wonderful at the time.

I've been enjoying lots of wali maharage, rice and beans. The diet here is the exact opposite of the Atkins diet, all starch...all the time. Not much protein, but plenty of card energy. Things could get very interesting in the next few days, but I hope to eventually start school...or have it officially canceled, not get any credits and have 3 months to travel, which would not be a terrible thing for me personally.

Also, glad to see Tom Delay finally indicted, he deserves to be in prison, although I doubt highly he will end up where he belongs.


Matt, taking it all in.

1 Comments:

  • At 10/03/2005 8:29 PM, Anonymous Bill Shirkey said…

    Matt
    Thanks for all the updates-very fascinating. After this week end with the Gators and the Jags, I might come join you in watching soccer. Stay safe.

     

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