Available Light has friends all over. Right now, two of our favorite playwrights (Sean Christopher Lewis and Jennifer Fawcett) who normally reside in Iowa City, are in Africa, teaching and learning.
Lucky for us, Sean’s been blogging frequently. Jenn recently sent out a delightful email with some notes and thoughts on their journeys. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts.
When we first
got here, I thought we must be outside the village since I could only see one or two other buildings, but last week when we were taken on a walk to a coffee farm we followed these paths and I discovered, hidden among the banana trees, houses of all sizes (the occasional one is several stories with neat gardens, a satellite dish and a high fence around it), small stores, hair cutting salons, bike repair shops and a few bars. I have no idea how many people live around here but I’m guessing it’s hundreds. Gasoline is over US$1 per litre (making it over US$ 4 per gallon) and the average Tanzanian’s yearly earnings are US $364, so not many people drive. Those who have bicycles navigate them over those crazy roads, sometimes with large plastic water jugs tied on to the back but most people just walk. People walk more slowly here. I don’t know if its because of the roads, because of the flip flops they wear or just because it isn’t part of the culture to rush from place to place. When you see someone you greet them not just with hello, but by asking them the news of their family, their day or their work.
Tanzania is the most peaceful country in East Africa. To the west, it’s bordered by Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire and Zambia. To the south is Mozambique, and Kenya is north. The Somalian pirates are close enough to Zanzibar (an island that sits in the Indian Ocean) that they’re a big concern for this government. The kids we’re teaching have an incredible pride in their country and they tell us that they want to become engineers, lawyers, doctors and pilots. In our class of 20, we have 4 would be pilots (two of whom are girls). We also have one girl, Prisca, who has decided she wants to move to Iowa to become an actor. She did a scene with another girl the other day that went like this:
Prisca: Oh, I am so lonely here in Iowa. I must find a friend to help me be an actor.
Dominica: Hello my friend.
Prisca: Hello my friend. I am an actor but I need help. Will you teach me?
Dominica: Of course, my friend. Let me see you dance.
Dominca: Oh that is very good my friend, now let me see you act like a cow.
(Prisca acts like a cow.)
Dominica: That is very good. I think you will be a successful acto here in Iowa.
As for Sean, here’s just a teaser from one of the stories he’s told.
I’m a bit nervous but like when are you gonna get this kind of chance in your life. I go in and the beat starts and I shock them by not just rhyming but dropping some swahili into the verses:
“I’m running through the streets children chasing “Mzungu”
Tanzanian nights where they only say “Karibou”
And the haters, I can’t deal your schemes
So “Lala” “Salamma”
Good night and good dreams!”
You can read all that right here. Stay-tuned for more.