Today we came down to Geykrum Arusha Secondary School in order to begin the Mchaka-Mchaka Adventure Race. The group was split into five groups, each group consisting of a navigator, photographer, safety guide, item keeper, and captain. We kicked things off with the “broccoli race” and the winner, Tife’s team, got first pick one of the five challenges in the race. This series of challenges were meant to give us more insight into Tanzanian culture and people. As we completed each activity, the team captain would collect 1-3 (4 for extra credit) rubber bands based on teamwork, participation, and success.
The first challenge was the dancing intensive. Each group was taught a popular Tanzanian routine by our local dance instructor. The dance we learned had moves mimicking the Macarena, but with a Tanzanian twist of claps, kicks, and rotations. Even those that wouldn’t consider themselves dancers on a normal day got in on the fun.
The second challenge entailed each group gathering water from the local well and wheelbarrowing it to a church, providing them with water for the next week. Students pushed the handcart from all sides up a rather steep hill, cautious of water spillage, rocks on the road, and piki pikis (motorcycles). Once we got to the church, students emptied the barrels and returned the cart back down the rocky path for other teams to use.
Next, students learned how to cook chapati, Tanzanian pancakes made of either dough or eggs. Students rolled the dough and fried each chapati, helping each other out to gain bands and eat the delicious chapati with a side of hot tea at the end of the challenge. We got to experience cooking a Tanzanian dish, which many of us eat each morning for breakfasts in our homestays.
An interview of a Tanzanian mom in town, the fourth challenge, seemed like the easiest to gain three bands. However, students learned that only the American students in each group could participate and would have to conduct the interview entirely in Kiswahili. We asked questions like, “What do you do in your free time?”, “What’s your favorite food?”, and so forth. We got bands based on pronunciation and execution, the first part being pretty difficult because of our American accents.
The last challenge, the most adrenaline-inducing, was the kuku challenge. In this challenge, our country coordinator, Tim, would release a chicken for us to chase and capture in under ten minutes. One group had the smart chicken that decided the best course of action was to run into a thorny acacia bush. Students had to throw stones to scare it out, employ sticks to prod the chicken, and carefully put their hands in the bush to direct the chicken out. None of these strategies worked and the chicken stood its ground. Eventually, one of the Tanzanian students dove into the bush and came out victorious, chicken in hand, legs clutched together; they were ready for the next step. The chicken was brought to a stoop, and that’s when, well... at the end, the chicken was plucked for tomorrow’s dinner.
Overall, only one team won the race. However, the Mchaka-Mchaka Adventure Race was a vital part for all students in our immersion to deepen our connection with the community around us that we’ve grown to love. Tonight is the second-to-last night we will sleep in our homestays, and we’re certainly not ready to leave yet. Badai! (Later!)
⁃ Tife & Dom