Africa has been one of the continents that has been continually plagued by stereotypes. While it is not strange to hear a person claim to know someone from Africa, it would be odd if the same person said they knew someone from North America. Such sweeping comments about a continent encourage stereotyping and prevent people from understanding that while African countries may share some similarities, each country has its uniqueness. Africa is a continent with an amazing array of diverse individuals. However, there is a lot of misconceptions due to the stereotypical ideas about it.
The media has played a significant role in perpetuating and creating these stereotypes. Such widespread fallacies about Africa has prevented the world from having a realistic perception of the continent. Tanzania forms East Africa together with other counties such as Kenya and Rwanda. My goal is sharing stories and articles on my blog from Tanzanians point of view with the aim of challenging the western gaze of East Africa and educating the West about the authentic Tanzanian culture. By telling the story of Tanzania by Tanzanians, my blog will hope to challenge the stereotypical perception of East Africa and in particular Tanzania by the West. By interviewing Tanzanians from various backgrounds, my blog will provide the world with a glimpse of the real life of Tanzanians as a unique people from Africa and create a more realistic version of Tanzania and by extension East Africa.
My goal is to challenge the Wests perspective of Tanzania to a more practical view. Revealing true stories from Tanzanians would help challenge westerners perspective on Tanzania. Ann Kaplan in her 1997 book Looking for the other talks about the imperial gaze. Imperial gaze is the phenomenon of looking at the world from the perspective of privileged individuals. Kaplan is a renowned author and has written several books that involve topics like feminism, cultural studies, and media. The image of Africa and Tanzania has been constructed by the West and continues to prevail today.
In his research on the role of tourism in cultural representation, Salazar (2009) argues that the image of Africa, and particularly East Africa has been constructed to satisfy the colonial representation of East Africa as a land of Maasai. The Maasai represented the other and was fashioned as primitive and nobly different, an image that became associated with the rest of Africa, and something that every tourist longed to see when visiting the continent. These image has been influenced by popular media and has become widespread. Consequently, it becomes imperative to challenge these perspectives by allowing the people to tell their stories.
Often, people refer to Africa as a country, when instead it is a hugely diverse continent made of 54 countries. For instance, Tanzania has a currency, flag, history, cuisine, music, identity and culture unique from other counties in Africa. While other East African countries such as Kenya may be known for her athletes and the Maasai, Tanzania is barely distinguishable by the West from other African countries. Like other African countries, Tanzania has various tribes and languages. However, one of the most distinguishing aspects of Tanzania is the use of Swahili as the national language. Swahili is used both as a national language and as a medium for instruction in all basic education institutions (Kajoro, 2016). Although other East African counties such as Kenya and Rwanda speak Swahili, the language is so predominant in Tanzania that it is used in every facet of the society including parliamentary debates and all official business.
By showing the world the real life of Tanzanians, my goal is to show the uniqueness and beauty of Tanzania. Additionally, my goal is to illustrate that while Africa, like any other continent may have security issues, poverty, and disease, it is stereotypical to cast the continent as synonymous with these vices. Although these vices exist, my blog will show that in spite of them, the people are typically positive and enjoy their uniqueness. The stories will highlight how Tanzanians have managed to live with these realities about their country and still be able to enjoy their beautiful nation.
Having lived in Tanzania my entire life, I understand that these perspectives are flawed. Although Tanzania is a beautiful nation with welcoming people and an amazing array of different people, this is rarely the image that the outside world has of the country as the myths and misconceptions perpetuated since the colonial times continue to taint its image. Travelling to numerous western countries have illustrated the extent of these stereotypes as I am usually asked many absurd questions concerning Tanzania.
These experiences have made me become very passionate about this topic and I would be ecstatic to have a chance to share wonderful tales from Tanzania with the outside world. This topic would also give me a chance to understand the various cultures of the people of Tanzania, their struggles, and dreams. Undertaking this journey would not only challenge the westerners perspectives and attitudes towards Tanzania but would also expand my knowledge of my fellow countrymen.
Kajoro, P. M. (2016). Transition of the medium of instruction from English to Kiswahili in Tanzanian primary schools. In Teaching and learning mathematics in multilingual classrooms (pp. 73-85). Sense Publishers.
Kaplan, E. A. (1997). Looking for the other: Feminism, film, and the imperial gaze. Psychology Press.
Salazar, N. B. (2009). Imaged or Imagined? Cahiers d'etudes africaines, (1), 49-72.
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