I moved to Tanzania in July 2008. I had finished university and headed back from Winnipeg to Toronto to reunite with my family whom I had been living away from for 9 years. It was time to reconnect, but I knew it wasn't going to be a permanent stay. After two and a half years of living and working as a teacher in Markham, I began to get that urge to move on and, on a last-minute whim, attended a job fair with the intention of heading to the middle east, preferably Dubai, for a few years of work. I was offered jobs in a number of places, opening up my mind to new possibilities for the future. I had always wanted to go to East Africa, but more specifically, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Madagascar. Tanzania seemed close enough and the package seemed fair.
From the moment I landed I felt like I had been here for years. It was a very easy adjustment. Even the heat and humidity of Dar didn't affect me too negatively and I automatically knew I had made a good choice. I began to explore the surroundings, hitting the beaches, local markets and a safari park (thanks to the intake perks of my new school).
I met Ibra the day before he was supposed to come to my grade 7 class to talk about his culture and tell stories of his history and experiences as a Maasai. He wanted to discuss the content of his talk before coming into the school to make sure he fully understood what we were most interested in. Finding a Maasai who can speak English was a challenge so I was just glad he was willing and able to say anything to us at all. I watched him walk toward me on the patio in the bay at Slipway and thought to myself "Oh no, I'm in trouble". I had made a pact with myself that I would not get involved in anyone local. I had made this 'error', in my mind, when I lived in Taiwan and became too attached to a fighter pilot who was a student in my conversational English class. It ended badly as I was moving away and we needed to part ways. Seeing Ibra for the first time immediately undid that vow and I recklessly melted as we spoke about his culture, my culture, our various passions in life and so on. I suppose the beautiful sunset over the water added some extra romance to that evening and we both walked away feeling like something special had just happened. He says he didn't sleep that night. I definitely was looking forward to the following day when I would see him again.
Our first actual date was supposed to be a group outing, except everyone cancelled but he and I. So we went dancing at a local place and before the night was over it was obvious that we both were interested in one another. I'm not sure how I managed to emotionally sidestep the fact that he is a polygamist tribesman, but somehow it didn't really matter to me.
I could write all about our great moments and blunders but we've been together for too long to easily list all these things now. Despite our many differences we have managed to find a way to appreciate each other's backgrounds and lifestyles. Well, most of the time anyway.
Ibra and I (Theresa)
I discovered I was pregnant last May (2009) and immediately felt excited about this little surprise. I had been prone to crying spells for several months at the sight of all things baby and knew that I was ready to begin this stage in life, although I would have never guessed I was going to be a mother before being a wife. Naanyuni was born on January 4, 2010, a still moment in a sea of emotional chaos. Leading up to the birth I found myself at risk of contracting swine flu, which kept me off work for several weeks, at risk of landing somewhere to have the baby and not having anywhere to stay, invited and then kicked out of a friend's house at 9 months pregnant, in Winnipeg, in the winter (a friend who also disowned me at the same time), alone without Ibra (he couldn't get a visa) and then among some of the best people in my life holding me in their love and support. Naanyuni has been a calm baby, content and social since birth, a grace bestowed on me I'm sure. I don't know if it's fair to say this about a child, but I have always felt like she would save my life somehow. She proves that theory right every day. I feel like I see so much more of the world now that I'm looking at it through another set of eyes. Cliche but true.