PLAYER FIRST: true stories from Tanzania [ARCHIVE]

  • 30 Jun 2016

The Shujaaz audience, youth aged 15 – 24, are the lifeblood of Well Told Story and our media. From co-creating our content to informing research activities to starring in Shujaaz itself, our ‘player first’ strategy puts youth at the centre of all we do.

Our recent #shujaaz360 launch in Dar Es Salaam built firmly on this principle. Bringing our data to life were a series of true stories that had been shared by Shujaaz fans in the field or on the Facebook of our hero DJ Tee. Their stories were presented at the launch by some of the Shujaaz Tz team.

Feedback from the launch suggests these insights into the lives of young people in Tanzania were a real highlight. And so we’d like to share them with you alongside some of the findings from the report that they support…

JUMA from Mwanza, age 18

“Hi DJ Tee. My name is Joseph and I’m from Mwanza. I have been living in the ghetto since I was 12 years old after running away from home. My parents died and my aunt was not supportive of me. Without family you are nothing. In the ghetto, life is seriously hard, just one long struggle after another. But at least I made a strong group of friends. They became my family – we did everything together and looked after each other. But when they got into crime so did I and when they convinced me to do drugs, how could I say no to my group? After a few years I didn’t want to get into trouble anymore so I decided to look for a hustle. It had to be something that only needed a small investment and wasn’t too time consuming. I found the perfect hustle – selling take-away fruit! My initial investment was only TSH20,000 which I borrowed from a friend. I buy a selection of fruits, prepare them & pack them into take-away containers for my customers to buy. It only takes me about 2 hours and makes a profit of TSH20,000 every day! So in a month I’m making more than TSH600,000! I now live in a better house with one of my friends who works in a nearby garage. I have employed three of my friends to help me and life is really moving. I want to encourage other youth not to lose hope like I nearly did. There are so many creative things that no one tells us about that we can do to improve our lives. We need to get out of the ghetto and make things happen for ourselves!”

ABDUL from Dar, age 19

“My parents were really disappointed when I didn’t pass my form four exams. They wanted me to go to university like some of their friends’ kids but I was done with studying. You see I don’t need to study because I have serious talent and I want to make money fast! I’m going to become one of Tanzania’s biggest music stars just like Diamond! But I just need to find someone to spot my talent and sponsor me. So while I wait to get famous, I’m keeping busy working as a bodaboda (motorbike taxi) driver. I get up at 6am every morning and even though I hate bathing I make myself wash as us youth need to be smart to get noticed! I’m the youngest driver at our station so the older guys sometimes make me go and get them food. I hate the cold mornings and driving around getting dust in my eyes and getting stress from crazy, stubborn customers. But I won’t give up. I’m trying to save money. All the struggle will be worth it if I can make my mother’s biggest dream come true – I’m going to buy her a car! It’s not an easy job being a bodaboda driver. My girlfriend broke up with me because she said her parents wouldn’t approve of her dating a bodaboda guy. And sometimes you see really bad stuff. Like the other day a guy in a car knocked someone down and my group of drivers followed him, pulled him out of the car and beat him up. I had to join them as they’re my group but it made me feel really bad. And there was this time when my friends asked me to go and intimidate someone who owed them money. I felt so terrible for the guy – he was so polite, but it was worth it as I made TSH2000! Evenings are my favourite time – I hang out with my best friend Atanasi. We chat about girls, listen to music on our phones and play football. I just have a normal phone, not a smart phone like Atanasi but he lets me use his phone to download songs I like. One day you’ll be able to download MY songs on your phone – then I’ll know I’ve made it!”

SHADRACK from Kiwangwa Bagamoyo, age 22

“I am from a poor family and the only asset we have is land. We are 4 children in the family. My older brother was already in secondary school when I finished my primary education. My father is a farmer and as my big brother was going to the city to get a smart job it fell to me to take over the farming business. Even though I didn’t want to farm I had no choice as my family didn’t have enough money to send me to secondary school. My friends pitied me. I felt so bad. But I’ve been surprised – farming has become my life. Now I am a devoted pineapple farmer. Sadly, girls aren’t so devoted to me! They don’t pay me any attention because they think farmers aren’t cool people to be with. They think farmers are always poor and struggling. But they have no idea how much money I save from farming pineapples. I have been able to renovate our house in Bagamoyo and I have even bought my own land. When you see me out with my friends, you wouldn’t know that I do farming because I am dressed in good clothes and look great! I don’t want lots of women – I just want to meet a nice, good one to settle down with. Many people think I’m wasting my life and should be in the city looking for a job in an office. But the farm is my office and when I meet a woman who understands this, I know she’ll be the one for me!”

HAPPINESS from Moshi, age 16

“My name is Happiness, I am 16 years old and I have a sweet little baby boy age 8 months called Kevin. The father to my baby is 21 years old and the bitter truth he is my cousin. I didn’t know he was my cousin until I informed my dad who baby-daddy was. It was hard for me to accept that I was carrying my cousin’s baby. My mum and sister tried several times to help me abort the baby but it was unsuccessful. My aunt really abused me for bringing shame on her son, it was horrible. Despite him being my cousin and having a well-off family, he decided not to accept responsibility for the kid. This made me even more depressed, especially when I remembered all the good things he told me and promised me. What good were those sweet words now? I thought he would take care of me – there are no jobs for girls like me especially now that I’ve had to drop out of school. It makes me feel bitter every time I look at him not knowing whether I should call him either cousin or husband. What am I going to tell my kid when he asks me where his father is? Maybe I will just tell him that he has died. I wish someone had told me about sex and protection before it was too late. Now I make sure that I tell my fellow girls to make sure they know the man they are dating. Words mean nothing if they don’t respect you.”

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