• Sonia

Hakuna Matata. The Art of Letting Go, in Zanzibar.

More than to see, we travel to feel and to learn. For me, travel has always been a fast track into my future self. I go to a place and I never return the same. I am the sum of all the places and people that have crossed my path.

So when the man pushing my luggage cart at the Zanzibar airport smiled at me and told me "We in Africa is slow, Europe is always fast fast", it stayed with me and I got to thinking about my journey to Tanzania.

Having grown up with The Lion King, I always thought "hakuna matata" was an invented concept. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, indeed, there is a country in the world that lives by this concept and uses it on a daily basis: Tanzania, the land of Serengeti, the home of Lion King.

My journey to Tanzania was not what I expected. I had come to Dar es Salaam for work, and since my work is in travel/ hospitality, I was imagining lavish African dinners and exciting safaris. What I encountered was rather average. Change of plans every day and people that did not seem to function on the same level of understanding as me.

You know that feeling of resistance when things don't seem to go your way? It kicked in the moment I landed in Dar es Salaam and stayed with me through to the humid walks through Stone Town in Zanzibar.

I didn't like the smells, the pushiness or perceived laziness of people around me, the unnecessary points on the program, the waste of my time, the pollution on the streets. What is it with the garbage on the streets and why do most of the houses look like they haven't been finished? Well, those are the effects of poorness and lack of education, and when you go to what is portrayed as a paradise land in the media, you don't want to see that.

But then I landed in Zanzibar, and contrary to my desire of being taken straight to the beach, the guide insisted we see the old slave market and exhibition. I was reminded of the the dark history of this beautiful land, Africa, where we all come from. Hundreds of years of abuse were inflicted by the "developed" world on Africa. What a disturbing mix of feelings were bubbling up inside me, while walking on the streets of the Stone Town in Zanzibar.

However, I soon noticed that, while I was experiencing resistance, discomfort and withdrawal, local people around me were happy. "Hakuna Matata" shouted the barefoot boy while our bus was passing by the corner of his home. "Hakuna Matata" said the lady selling apples on the side of the road. "Hakuna Matata" were the sounds of millions of people around me, going about their day with a smile on their face.

Hakuna Matata. Like the song says, it means no worries, for the rest of your days. It's their problem free philosophy. Just as the man at the airport had said to me, his eyes clear as morning light: "we in Africa is slow". Meaning, we don't worry that much, we take things as they come, we rejoice in the moment, we have learned to let go.

Finally having arrived on the white beaches of Zanzibar, I started to grasp their problem free philosophy. How can you worry, when all trees around you have either mangoes or coconuts? When the water is as blue and all the animal kingdom is your friend? Who is to say how things should be, when they are good just the way they are?

We, in Europe, have mastered the art of perfection. They, in Tanzania, have managed the art of letting go.

May you learn to let go more,


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