One day we were at a market filled with carvings when my friend was about to faint. A lady led us behind the market storefronts where there was numerous men, sitting on the ground shirtless carving away. That was the closest I've have ever been to a sweat shop. I met a college aged student who was working at one of the stands. He introduced me to his father. I shook his rough beaten hand as he looked up from the ground, where he was working on the latest piece. My new friend then took my hand and unveiled a piece his father had been working on for two years. It was an intricate carving of daily scenes layered, standing about 7 feet tall. It was carved all from one tree. It resembled a carving I had once seen in a museum, yet there it lied. That piece will never sell for what it is worth. I asked my friend the word for artist in swahili, instead he told me the word for worker.
Another topic I would like to address briefly is the gender roles in Tanzania. I will not get in to detail, because I will just give myself a headache but I think it is something important to be shared here. As you know I am a pretty strong female- I don't like tradition much and I don't think a society should tell me my "duties" in life. In Tanzania women do not have the option of living by that philosophy. Women there have expectation put on them, and societal disadvantages to keep them "where they belong". For example, a wife may be abused, so she may leave her husband and return to her family. Her family may tell her to go back to him and work things out. It is believed to divorce is disobeying the bible, so it is almost out of the question. The woman wants to leave but has nowhere to go. She thinks of getting a job, but can not because she has little education, once again due to her gender. Schooling is expensive, so she is stuck with no option but to take care of her husband, and try to not make him angry. It is appalling.
I came back to america with this desire to cook. Not because I am a female and belong in the kitchen, but because I can but do not have to. This seems odd, but in America feminists of the past have removed us so far from what is our gender roles that we have the privilege to choose what we want to do. There are still hurdles to be crossed but honestly I encourage women in America to realize how far we have come, to not go against the grain just because they can, but instead use that energy for all of the women in the world who do not know there is other options. They may discover our ways and not agree. That is fine, but to live without knowing any other way is such a tragedy.
Sorry that was so long.... I really just brushed the surface....