Almost forgot the “Flying Forks”

In my previous post about Tanzany’s L and R confusion, I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite names I’ve heard here: the “Flying Forks” of Pemba island.

Pemba Island Flying Fork, Photo by E.Bowen Jones-FFI

We spent a great long weekend in Pemba last October, and the staff at the resort suggested a trip to see the flying forks several times. Apparently some of them can get quite large — 5 and 1/2 foot wing span. And, there is a real feel-good story from the late 80’s about how the Pemba residents decided to stop eating them and bring them back from the brink of extinction.

In the end we didn’t go, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of a flying forks sign. So please, if an alert reader out there makes it to Pemba and sees a sign, please take photo and send it along so I can post it to the blog.

The L World

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

So something I’ve been expecting for nearly three years finally happened to me for the first time last week. I was ordering take out food for delivery from a restaurant, and the waiter asked for my name.

Me:  My name is “Brent.”

Waiter: “Blent?”

Me: No. “BRRRent”

Waiter: “BLLLent?”

Me: No. “B. R. E. N. T.”

Waiter: Oh. “Brrenti”

Me: Sure.

Like the stereotype of some Asian countries, people in Tanzany often confuse L with R. Apparently this is the case elsewhere in the region as well, as you can see from the photo of a “Daily” in Rwanda. That’s right, a Daily. You know: a place where they milk cows.

I don’t entirely understand why this is the case as people do use both sounds and have no problems using L in other contexts. It’s not that they can’t pronounce “R”, the way that, say, I can’t roll my “r”s in Spanish. It’s just that in some words they just want to use an L instead.

Anyway, it adds to a lot of confusion when it comes to names. One woman filled out application form that I reviewed, with the name “Laula.” She wrote that several different places on the form. The name on her drivers license? “Laura”

And another good friend of mine here gets called “GunnaL” so often that I’ve take to calling him that too.

When I lived in Mexico, people didn’t really get my name their either so I learned not to get too worked up about it. My favorite experience in Tanzany, has been the security guards at the gate to the Gymkhana Golf Course. (Which all by itself is a rich topic for a future post.) For these guys, “Brent” is a real mind-bender of a name. So one day, I decided to give them something easier.

Gaurd: Name please?

Me: Brrr.. er … Mark

Guard: Mork?

Me: No, Mark


Me: Sure.

To this day, I am still Mr. Mork to them. And that’s ok. Cause sometime soon I’m planning to drive our Toyota Plado down to Gymkhana to play a round of golf with my significant other.

You know. Mindy.

Mork & Mindy

Nanu nanu!

Bordering on Zany

I started a new job in 2013 and have taken a few business trips around East Africa as a result.

One thing that I have discovered, is that while Tanzany is truly unique in some things, others appear more widespread. So I am starting a new “Bordering on Zany” series for things around the region that share in the spirit of Tanzany.

I thought I would kick this off with this firm from Kampala, Uganda which for some reason seems to be having some trouble penetrating the New York City market.

Shumuk Group of Companies, Kampala, Uganda

Shumuk Group of Companies, Kampala, Uganda