Tanga is a largely Muslim city and that means several things for us:
  1. Prayer calls. Every day, multiples times a day, we are blessed with the sound of a prayer in Arabic over a loud speaker. I don't know what the Muslim population has to be to get the prayer call hard-wired throughout the town, but whatever it is we have it. I'm not sure of the exact times of the prayer calls. Oh, except for the one at 5 am. It's my favorite. There's a mosque across the street. Lovely. Really its a competition between the Koran and the roosters to see who can make it more impossible for the mzungus to sleep in.
  2. Great fashion. In the Muslim faith, it is inappropriate to show one's head to the public. As a result, they have fashioned the kanga. The Kanga is a very versatile peice of fabric. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and each has its own saying on it. Some talk of God, others of death, others of vegetables. Unless you speak the langauge, it's really a toss-up which you get. In my experience (I own one kanga) it can be, but is not limited to be, used as: blanket, skirt, shirt, hat, dress, sunblock, dustblock, tissue, pillow and bugblock. The women here mostly use it as a dress, skirt, shirt, hat and baby sling. And, of course, a stylish modesty enforcer. They wrap it very tightly around their faces, drape it over their arms and wear it over other clothes too, as an extra layer. The men wear dresses too- a kanzu is what it is called I believe. It's like a coat in that you only wear it when travelling. It's long and white, and actually quite nice. They wear these fun little pillbox looking hats too. The guys at the bus station call them fashion hats, but I'm sure they have some other, much more appropriate Arabic name too. The cutest is the little boys in their kanzus and fashion hats.
  3. Great names. In my classes, I have lots of fun Arabic-inspired names. Two Ramadhanis- one is a pill, the other ugly but sweet. We have several Mohammeds, though the go by Mudi. "Legless Mudi" has no legs because he was thrown into a fire as part of some witch doctor ceremony. I would feel sorry for him but he is such a bully!! "Toothless Mudi" has no teeth, don't know why. He's a bully too, but I don't mind it as much because he's really smart and he helps the other kids to write. Little Mudi Bakari is just adorable. He's got a giggle that could melt Scrooge's heart. When we sing songs, I usually pick some volunteers to come help me at the front of the class. He always tries to sneak up because he loves singing and love attention. He's tiny.
  4. Ramadan. The Muslim holy month of fasting. It ends this week. In the holiday, every muslim fasts from sunup (about 6am) to sundown (about 6:30). This has been hard on the volunteers because so many things are closed during the day. Our break-time hut, groceries, the shop around the corner doesn't open until 7:30! Moreso, it's hard on the Muslims. Class sizes have dropped from fatigue, Fatuma, our housekeeper sleeps all day (not on beds, mind you- instead she sleeps across 3 chairs in the kitchen. no idea why), people are cranky and hungry! I can't blame them. One fast sunday a month is hard enough, and I usually cave and break early! Everyone is in good spirits this week though because Ramadan ends on... either thursday or friday. It's all based around the lunar cycle, so depending on the full moon. If it's Wednesday night, people eat on Thursday, if it's Thursday night they eat on Friday. Word on the street is that because of the confusion, everything closes both days and we get a 4 day weekend.

The muslims and christians get a long great here. I have many of both in my adult class and they're really good friends. Go figure.

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