Tanzania Redux – The Tale of the “Wide” Tanzanian

“Canned Rhino in a Bowl”

Jambo, is a male rhino in the breeding sanctuary, Mkomazi, Tanzania.  You need not feel bad for Jambo, he is safe and happy and pampered, under full time guard, along with three lady rhinos that the he regularly takes care of according to rhino traditions, while he does his best to ensure the survival of his species.

While visiting the rhino breeding sanctuary in Mkomazi in Tanzania, the ranger/guide explained about black rhinos versus white rhinos as follows: the term “White Rhino” is an Afrikaans bastardization of the term “WIDE rhino” which describes the shape of their mouth which is better suited for a different type grazing.  Both kinds of rhino actually have dark skin.

A few days later I was staying at a safari camp while exploring one of the other National Parks.  It had been my practice to dine with my own guide, as we used it as an opportunity to both review photos and make and adjust our plans for the next day.  But at this particular camp, the practice was different.   The South African couple who ran the camp raised my ire, because they pointedly ensured that “staff” were not permitted to dine with guests..  it got me wondering though, because they too were “staff”, as they did not own the camp themselves, but were just employees. Yet they stilled dined with guests… My brilliant powers of deduction had me thinking something else was afoot. 
When a very tall guest of the pale variety joined the lunch table later that day, the S.A. couple asked where he was from and the reply was born and bred in Tanzania.  “Ohh how so rare” they said, which in a country of 60 million people isn’t so rare actually, again they must be referring to some other factor along with being born in Tanzania.  Perhaps they were referring to his complexion?  So apparently, the good old Apartheid ways are alive and well to some extent.  Perhaps as a “softer” version exported around the continent, perhaps just the echo of social disdain that the Brits had for other cultures.   At the very least there is a segment of the resident white population that has the remnants of a siege mentality. 
So cheeky me, I decided to reverse the bastardization, rhino style, and nickname/rebrand the tall Tanzanian as a “Wide Tanzanian“, and we used the term to great amusement over the rest of our trip.  Having made the joke at his expense, I must also state that I never heard any statements from “him” that indicated any of the biases noted above, and in fact he appeared to knowledgable and informed, intelligent, polite and respectful, and seemed to be liberal minded as well. 
I would also like to point out that skin complexion is not the only differentiator between people that I came across on my trip.  At the Rhino breeding sanctuary, the ranger-guide took the time to explain that “Rhinos are poly-amorous, just like Muslims”, which drew a rhino-like snort from me in response as I quickly figured out the Ranger/guide must have been a Christian.
People, we all can do better than this.