Illustration by Marc Bell.
In 2007, I spent a year living and working in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The first word I learned in Swahili was karibu, or “welcome.” During that year, I was karibu-ed to the island every day; karibu-ed to the curio shops; to the beach; to strangers’ homes. Sometimes, frustrated by feeling perpetually fresh off the boat, I’d exclaim, “I live here!”—to which someone would inevitably respond, “Nzuri! Karibu!” (Great! Welcome!)
The only thing to do was reciprocate. Whenever Tanzanian friends would tell me they wanted to visit me at my home, I would say, “Karibu Canada.” And I meant it. I felt deeply privileged to be included in the ebb and flow of Zanzibar life, and hoped one day I’d be able to return the favour.
In 2010, two years after my return to Canada, a good friend from Zanzibar named Kaiza was sponsored to ...