Thursday, June 14, 2012

06/14 -Last day at the University

Ok so first off, today I fell into a ditch by the cafeteria at the University.  I was walking across the paved courtyard area, looking at the cafeteria and out of nowhere there was an uncovered drainage ditch which I did not see as I was trying to decide if I wanted to go inside to get a soda.  I am not hurt (just bruised my ego a little) but I did learn to watch where I am walking in Africa.  The sidewalks are just as bad as the roads.  

Today we spent our final training day at the University drafting practice wills. It is a bit different here than in the U.S. in that Tanzania has at least 3 different systems of law at play.  There is customary law within the tribes or groups.  There is common law or statutory law (a hand-me-down from the European colonization of Africa).   There is Sharia law (more than a third of the population is Islamic).  What is difficult to wrap my mind around, as an American, is that with this type of legal pluralism, it is not so much where you are (like in the U.S...what state am I in?) to determine which is applicable, but more the circumstances and to whom you are working with.  They have choices of law and courts in many cases depending on the beliefs and lifestyle of the individual involved.  All that being said, it is fascinating that with all these cultures intermingling, Tanzania has been peaceful for almost half a century since it was created, unlike almost all of its African neighbors.

Billboard on the campus at the University
There was also some discussion between our group and the faculty about the role of women in the households here.  One of the instructors shared that he believed that they viewed love differently in Africa.  Marriage is for life, etc.  But in the same conversation, he shared about a woman he represented who's husband chopped off both of her hands because the meat for dinner had gone missing (presumably eaten by the dog) before he got home for dinner.  (No one is allowed to touch the meat before the husband returns home from work for dinner).  This woman did not wish to leave her husband or to even have him imprisoned because then she would have been unable to provide for herself and her children.  I did not find this a very compelling argument that they marry for life because they love differently.  That being said, there is some progress being made in these countries through education for the women here.

After leaving the University, we went to visit with another amazing woman Jane Magigita, who is on the board of an NGO (non-governmental organization) called Equality for Growth.  This organization is doing some amazing things for legal and human rights for the women who work here in Tanzania.  She was a very helpful person to talk to and provided some excellent insights about our individual research projects in addition to sharing about her experience here.  

At the Equality for Growth office

We took a different route with our driver today.  I continue to enjoy seeing the sights of the city although it can definitely be a bit overwhelming.  I will attach a few pictures at the end of some things I found interesting on the car ride today.  One of the military jeeps we were behind was carrying a tiny casket in the open trailer bed and a single man in a military uniform sat next to it.  I tried to ask our driver about it in a respectful way but although he has been very helpful and talkative about just about anything else, he would not say much about this.  Tomorrow, we are taking the day off (mostly) and doing a city tour!  

Random pictures from the day (P.S.  thanks for the camera dad!)

They like Glee!

Random fruit market on the side of the road

Butcher shop.  Not ready for this adventure yet.

One of the Maasai tribe members I mentioned in a previous post.  

1 comment:

  1. Have a nice trip did ya? See ya next fall!

    The ability to choose the law that best fits the person or situation is a novel idea. Imagine if we could go to court and decide if we will use cannon law or a custom that has been handed down through generations. Is it confusing? Is there a method or a check list to help you determine the best law to follow?

    It is hard for many to understand why a woman would stay with a man that has cut off both her hands. I don't believe it has anything to do with love at all, different or not. It's the cultural foundation a woman is taught from the very start. I was raised by a Vietnamese mother so I can relate to what this woman may have been taught as a girl. Marry a man that can provide for you. Plain and simple. There was never anything about love mentioned. It didn't matter as long as I chose a man that could provide for me and in turn make her proud. You are right though, it is certainly not a very popular way here in the states.

    Enjoy your day off and look forward to reading more!

    xoxo - Meg