By Special Request: Moshi Pictures

….When the father-in-law requests some pictures of Moshi town, you comply. Even if it’s with a three week delay (sorry, Pieter!).

I’ve yet to take my big camera to town and although we go into town a few times a week before work, I haven’t really been in the tourist-mode and usually try to avoid attracting too much attention in the hope of not having too many of the “no-I’m-not-interested-in-coming-on-a-safari-with-you-or-buying-that-art-right-now” conversations. To be fair, you don’t get hassled that much in Moshi and even the guys who try to sell you something are usually very friendly and pretty easy to shake off, usually with a firm ‘Asante’ (‘thank you’, implying ‘no, thank you’ in a culture where you’re never supposed to say ‘no’ outright), possibly followed by (and I haven’t tried this yet but am convinced I should), “Ninaishi hapa Moshi, kaka!” (I live in Moshi, brother!). A big camera, however, might make that tactic redundant, or at the very least much less convincing…

Walking around town yesterday with Boogie and one of the new Amani volunteers, Jay, I did, however, manage to whip out the iPhone a few times to snap some shots of the town’s early-morning bustle. The late colonial/Wild West style buildings are crumbling and beautiful (oddly reminiscent of Cuba), a few modern ones have been built in their place, but change (even repairs) come slowly. Tailors still use their old Singer machines to custom make suits, bags and traditional African dresses in front of little shops that line the two main streets running through town, while ladies sit in groups, selling bananas, avocados, shoes and socks on the sidewalks. A hairdressing salon or two, mobile phone shops and few cafes and restaurants (some of which are actually really nice, and as mentioned before, serve excellent coffee) round off the small-town-big-town feel.

Break-neck growth, Asian-style, isn’t really here, at least not yet, it’s still “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) Africa, but the ambition to get ahead, to make much more out of this country is clearly there. Perched somewhere between the past and the future, maybe a little too comfortable in the present and a little too chilled out to really rush towards change, Moshi will undoubtedly look quite different in 10-15 years time. It might take a generation to see more dramatic changes that will only come with significantly more resources to build better infrastructure (and I do hope it never loses its laid-back vibe and charm if/when this happens ), but maybe that’s for the better: “hiljaa hyvää tulee” (‘good things come slowly’), as the Finns would say… (And on a very personal side note, I really hope the standard markets of western “civilization” in the form of KFC, McDonalds and Starbucks never make it here.)

More on our long weekend plans (safariI!) and the past few days at Amani (I organized a girls-only drawing/dancing session yesterday and the Amani girls seemed to love it!) in the coming days…

Thinking of all y’all back home.

– K&B

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