Leo, ninajifunza lugha ya alama ya Tanzania

(Today, I am learning Tanzanian Sign Language)

So today I went for my first proper Tanzanian Sign Language lesson at Tunaweza (We can).Tunaweza is one of the only organisations in Mwanza to support people with a disability. Young people with learning difficulties, physical disability, or Downs Syndrome for example can come to the centre, not only for respite but also to learn a craft: jewellery making; batik; tailoring; patchwork blankets, handbags, purses, laptop bags and aprons made from kanga material. The work that is produced is simply beautiful and whenever I go I’m so envious of how talented these young people are. What they sell provides financial support for the organisation but the skills that they learn also mean that when they are older they are able to have a business and provide for themselves.

Amongst the people that go are a number of Deaf kids so Tunaweza also run sign language classes for free for them, people working with them and whoever else is interested to learn.

The tuition is basic – we have a sign language dictionary and we are going through it from A-Z. But the entire thing is taught in kiSwahili so it’s great practise for me and if it improves my communication with the kids at school then that can only be a positive. TSL uses mouth pattern, non-manual features and  other similar characteristics to BSL. The alphabet follows that of ASL and I can see, with what little I have learnt over the last few months, how English and American missionaries over history have influenced TSL to become what it is today.

The lesson was good fun and the kids really enjoyed helping me out with the kiSwahili I didn’t understand (which was often). Will be going every week so hopefully should see some progress. I also learnt about another project recently set up who may be able to share some space with me for mine. I’m due to meet them next week so keep your fingers crossed.


3 thoughts on “Leo, ninajifunza lugha ya alama ya Tanzania

  1. Sounds fun and interesting how the ASL and BSL intertwine…..I’ve connected with a guy called Simeon C. Mwakatobe on LinkedIN who I think may be able to help you. Send me an INMail so as I can connect you both and you can tell him you are doing this work….Simeon is founder and CEO of Afri Disability Development and Solutions and previously Secretary General for the Tanzania Federation of Sports for the Deaf. Dar es Salaam is where he is based which I appreciate is 14 hours away from you – but nonetheless maybe he can help in some way?!?! In case you don’t know how – to get connected you simply put Simeon’s name in the search tab on LinkedIn and then you were you see the box CONNECT – to its right there is a drop down menu. Select GET INTRODUCED and the next screen will see your pic on left – his on the right and my down below…..click on me as I’ll be the one introducing you and then follow in the onscreen instructions. Who knows with Dar es Salaam being a big city there may be funding things there that can be accessed…..

    Hope you are having lots of fun and the rainy season hasn’t put too much of dampener on it (it is the rainy season now ??) We got snow here at the moment and -2 temp. Looks pretty but is cold. Birthday fun next weekend which does not seem like a year ago from we all got drunk drove home in the snow to sing Barbra and made you sleep on the sofa as Julie was in the bed 🙂 ah memories!!!


  2. Wow a fourth language no less! Well done brave and spirited daughter! Hope the brief diversion to beach hotel gave you some additional energy and was just lovely too. I am currently sitting in my Wag Hill robe sharing the lounge with the exquisite little boars looking down at me, what more could a ‘Mamma’ need, will perhaps Kirst teleported here but I guess thats just greedy?
    lots of love Corinne aka Mum xxx

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