Tanzania, East Africa

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I went to Tanzania to visit a friend (my future wife) who lived there. She was helping open a school and working for a dance company. I spent two months there and fell in love with the openness of the people and the land.

 

 

The people have a sense of centeredness uncommon in the West, and although the land has been lived on for millennia, it seems vast and untouched.

 

 

Inspiration grabbed me when I saw these amazing Acacia trees everywhere, and I decided to find out how to harvest them and build a chair.

I lived at the dance center during my stay: Ibuka Dance Foundation provides professional dance training for young Tanzanians.

 

 

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My friend offered to take me out to the "bush" country to look for Acacia trees we could harvest.

 

So we went driving to Masai territory, an ancient tribe who proudly hold on to their culture and traditions.

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We got an audience with the tribal elders, and after explaining what I wanted to do, they issued me a permit to harvest branches from trees in their territory.

 

 

They also sent us with a man with a big machete (for chopping trees) to help us out, and maybe keep an eye on us.

 

 

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After another day of adventure trying to get home on very difficult roads, we made it back to the dance center with a load of branches.

 

Acacia trees are harder than any wood I've ever cut. And I kept finding strange bugs and larvae all through the bark and wood.

 

Since I couldn't camp out, I only had the pieces I had harvested in one day, which usually isn't possible to do. Luckily, I had help from the groundskeeper.

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I stayed at the dance center and built this chair; it was a new experience building a chair surrounded by people.

 

I felt a sense of community in what I was doing, a common feeling in this land: people are instinctively drawn together here, and it's odd for someone to be alone.

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Tragedy struck the dance center as they lost their outdoor venue in a storm. So they organized a silent auction at a local Art Fair to raise funds to help rebuild.

 

 

The chair was going for a good cause, and the organizers of the fair displayed it on stage throughout a whole day of music and dance.

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I said goodbye to friends with a sad heart. I had only spent two months in this place, but my life would never be the same.

 

 

I've since been back to Tanzania and now consider it a second home, a place that answers a call I've heard my entire life.