I gave you all a few extra days so someone could get the trivia question and be in the running for the fabulous prize. But nobody played. Nobody.
I’ll give you the answers anyway because, obviously, I find them interesting. Tanzanite is technically “blue zoisite” which is pronounced close to “blue suicide” which doesn’t sound so great so Tiffany and Co. renamed it. Tiffany was the first company to bring Tanzanite to the attention of the world; “There are now two places you can get Tanzanite- Tanzania and Tiffany.” I would like the one in the middle, please.
Tanzanite is a particularly beautiful and extremely rare gem. It is at least 1,000 times rarer than diamonds. It is only found in the Mererani Hills of Tanzania. It is trichromatic- dark red, violet, and sapphire in color, depending on treatment and light. Since 2002, it has been the birthstone for December, representing the first time the birthstone list had been changed since 1912.
Now back to Tanzania and today’s main topic: the people. As of 2013, Tanzania had a population of just over 49 million people, comprised of about 125 distinct tribal groups, according to the Tanzania Tourism Board. The Sukama and Swahili people are the largest groups, representing about 40% of the population together. Tanzanians have avoided any significant friction between different groups. About 40% of the population is Christian and about 40% Muslim, and while there have been some small conflicts, for the most part, people live together in harmony.
That harmony, as well as an unparalleled kindness and generosity of spirit are what first and most impressed me about Tanzania when I first visited here in the summer of 2012. I came as a tourist with an American travel company called Overseas Adventure Travel. (Unsolicited plug- they were a great group to travel with!) I traveled with a fabulous collection of 11 other Americans, and I think we were all moved in our way by the people of Tanzania. (One couple, in fact, supports a child in school to this day.) I was immediately struck by the warmth, kindness, and patience evidenced by nearly everyone we met. People at home suggested part of that may be the fact that we were tourists. I thought about that, but something felt so genuine. Turns out, for the most part, Tanzanians in general are as warm and caring as the group who serves the travel industry.
I was walking home from the market down the road yesterday when I came alongside an elderly woman. We chatted as much as we could, with my limited Swahili. She gently, and fairly enough, scolded me for not knowing how to speak much Swahili. Then she invited me to come to her house any time and pointed where it is. This is not unusual. And she means it.
The program with whom I work here has close ties to its partners from other countries, many of whom I’ve met. I haven’t met one person who has been to Tanzania and doesn’t say the same thing: the people are truly lovely. Come for a visit and you’ll see too!
Today’s Trivia Question: (and I thought everyone liked trivia so you get another chance)
When did the island of Zanzibar join Tanganyika, to form the country called Tanzania?