LAKE MACBRIDE— A colleague at work is from Tanzania— in Iowa to attend the university. Until we met, I didn’t know much about his country, but in bits and pieces, I am learning.
“People think the Maasai are poor, but they are rich,” he said, describing the wealth found in their cattle herds. He also talked about how society is changing for the semi-nomadic people. They are becoming sedentary, he said. No longer do they leave their dead for predators to consume. When they arrive in town they consume whiskey by the bottle, he added. We also talked about the difficulty of taking a census of Maasai. Census taking is a western notion, so it may be a futile effort.
I tried to preserve his emphasis, his words here. It is difficult, nearly impossible given my western outlook.
It is work to listen… even more work to hear. It’s a characteristic of people with a driving social style. This personality trait has gotten me where I am in life, but one wonders what has been missed while focusing on a task, goal or objective. My conversations about Tanzania remind me to work toward hearing what people say, which is much different than listening through a filter of cultural biases.
I look forward to continuing the conversation.