I have been in Tanzania for 2 months now and today has been the best day yet.
The excitement started after I returned home. Today, September 12th, is the start of the three day Muslim holiday, Eid. I was told there was a disco happening and that one of my host brothers, Stevini, was there. I immediately asked if my other brother, Almasi, and sister, Imna, would take me. They were tired since they had been dancing there before I got home, but since I was obviously excited they agreed to go back. We start walking behind and weaving between houses and then I start to hear music coming from what I always thought was just the shell of some old church. There was really a disco! We get closer and I see there is a man standing outside charging cover. I think since I am clearly not from here they let me in for free. I got to go to a party and they got to watch weird American things I did. Somewhat fair.
So I’m walking into this disco with Almasi and Imna. Also I should have mentioned Almasi is 11 and Imna is maybe 9. So I enter this big room and there are maybe 40-50 kids all dancing. It’s dark in there, but that does not make it any harder to see me. Stevini and some other kids from my street run up to me leading a swarm of children. We started dancing while a lot just stared and me. I know I’m not the best dancer but I at least have fun. The kids here however, they can dance. It was the best moment here yet. Here I am this very tall white American dancing with all these little Tanzanian kids who are not even up to my shoulder.
Later all four of the volunteers in my village were there and we were all dancing and celebrating Eid with these kids. Right now it is almost midnight and I can still hear parties around my village happening. I eventually had to go home but luckily there are still two more days!
Part of what made this the best day yet is that I am not Muslim, my family here is not Muslim, and not all of those kids are Muslim. People here do not care if your religion is different than theirs. Christians will celebrate with Muslims and Muslims will celebrate with Christians. They do not criticize beliefs. They do not try to push one religion out of the country. They don’t blame one religion or the other for bad things in this world. They care for each other. They love each other. They respect each other.
If only it was that easy for all Americans.