Cultural Rights as Human Rights

Stone Town, Zanzibar I. Seeking out the spirit of human rights Three weeks ago I spent seven days with artists, cultural activists, and human rights advocates from sixteen African countries in a workshop on human rights as a part of the ArtWatch Africa project. It has taken time for me to process the experience. The collective intellect,…

Live from Occupy Wall Street

May Day, 2012. I have always enjoyed the fact that my birthday falls on May Day. In my younger years, I felt that it carried both reason and resonance, setting the tone for a life I hoped would be marked by the hippie spirit of the pagan flower and fertility rituals that inspired the holiday. That…

For Salma

The hardest part about traveling is surely the friends you leave behind. Today I learned from my dear friend Brian that Salma, our neighbor and friend in Bagamoyo, Tanzania in 2007, died sometime in the past two years due to complications during a botched surgery. Salma was one of the two “house girls” that lived with…

Impressions on an Anniversary

My parents and I board a plane from Atlanta to New York City on an overcast day in late February. As soon as we enter the long terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International, I feel the eerie liminality of air travel seal us into artificial limbo. Time and space pause at the beginning of a journey. The…

Closer to Fine

The thin layer of skin over the spot on my shin where the taxi crashed into my leg has just formed. Only two days ago it stopped bleeding and draining — the first time in seven months that I haven’t had an open wound. Though for much of this time it was small, it loomed…

Unpacking the Past

About a week ago the five month anniversary of my motorbike accident in Tanzania passed by with little more than a sigh, as if a wind blew in Africa and rustled the leaves of a tree where I once sat, and I thought of its broad limbs at that exact instant. The sight of the…

This is Recovery, This is Healing.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott Since my accident and subsequent return to the United States, I’ve been doing all I can to avoid slipping into a catatonic stupor or mindless depression induced by bed rest and boredom. The pile of books that…

Never Name A Pet That Might Kill You- Part III

Killian, our inimitable Kilimanjaro guide, had come to Dar as he promised and visited me the day I fainted in the market. When he arrived at the apartment I was lying down, still colorless and weak. “You gon’ be alright, I know it,” he told me. “Hakuna kisanga, dada. I feel real bad this happened…

Never Name A Pet That Might Kill You: Part II

I woke up from surgery stuck in my head. I couldn’t feel my body, or anything physical at all. I was only aware of my own consciousness, floating in a warm, black space. I had no memory, no sense of identity, and no knowledge of the world’s existence. It was extremely calm. I wondered how…

Never Name A Pet That Might Kill You: Part I

It all started with my underwear. Or lack of them. Don’t take that the wrong way, it’s not how it sounds. I know, it’s a strange way to start out talking about a near-fatal accident in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on my back in a puddle with my neck on the curb, my motorbike mangled…

Climbing Kilimanjaro

“I wonder if there’ll be another time as good as this.”-Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro Before a few days ago, the snows of Kilimanjaro were for me more like clouds than anything else. Maybe just a little brighter as they shone with reflected sunlight from their heights above Moshi, Tanzania. I made the decision…

Goodbye Babu.

Yesterday I sat at my computer for most of the day, angry to be locked inside writing graduate school papers while white sand beaches and Dar’s infinite adventures waited just outside the door. I checked my email every so often, looking for a distraction. In the small gmail chat box, I saw a name appear…

The First Quarter

A fourth of my year in Tanzania has passed. Three months. I never felt like a small-town girl til I lived in the big city. But Dar es Salaam is big in a small way. Goats clop along busy city streets, chickens ride the buses tucked under the arms of tired women, children roll tires…

The Paradox

Last week I turned in a paper for my State and Civil Society class in the Masters of Development Studies program at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). The prompt was: Analyze the paradox between the World Economy that is continuously internationalizing and the world political systems that are compartmentalized into separate nation-states. Choose…

Krismasi Njema na Heri ya Mwaka Mpya!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This is the first year I’ve been away from home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My thoughts have been with my family and friends at home even while my body has been here. Leading up to the 25th, the heavy heat of Dar es Salaam pushed the holidays to…