Photo Credit: Joyce Oladeinde
The Black Expat: 'Living Abroad In Tanzania, I Felt Peace, Belonging, And Freedom'
Joyce Oladeinde always dreamed of living abroad; her dream finally became reality in December 2020 when she moved from her home in the UK to Tanzania.
For the 26-year-old engineer and freelance marketing consultant, the decision to move to Tanzania was a multifaceted one. In addition to having the opportunity to work remotely and travel throughout the country slowly, Joyce had goals aimed at showcasing the African nation in all its magnificence.
“Among the things I wanted to do was to create content and promote Tanzania as a tourist destination to inspire Africans and people throughout the diaspora to visit Tanzania and support local businesses. I wanted to see more people who look like me travel to East Africa and experience its true beauty.”
Speaking with many locals involved in the tourism industry, Joyce learned how the pandemic was negatively impacting their businesses. As the world dealt with the pandemic, learned to adapt, and pivoted, so did local tourism businesses. As a result, one local tour guide was forced to leave the job he loved and become a taxi driver to support his family.
“Hearing these stories was very disheartening, and I wanted to do something about it. So I collaborated with local creatives and brands such as tour companies and small businesses to provide digital marketing consultations and strategies to improve their businesses.”
Joyce found a great sense of fulfillment in helping these businesses. This was one of the many ways in which living abroad in Tanzania allowed her to restore her physical and mental health after the ordeal of being in and out of lock down for nine months in 2020.
“It had truly taken a toll on my mental health. Also, the death of George Floyd and seeing Nigeria fall apart with EndSARS was mentally draining. Being able to connect with people of different cultures in Tanzania was a saving grace for me. After all, travel is my love language.”
Despite having been born and raised in the UK, Joyce never felt like she could genuinely call the country her home. She always desired to create her own home for herself, somewhere other than the UK. She had once moved abroad to Nigeria for three months. Now she had the opportunity to create the home she envisioned for herself, living abroad in Tanzania.
“In Tanzania, I felt peace, belonging, freedom, and was comfortable enough to experience my true self without having to code-switch, worry about racism, microaggressions, or ‘working twice as hard as my white counterparts,’ as my mother would tell me growing up. The pandemic reminded me that tomorrow may not always be promised, so I began doing a lot of research, watching YouTube videos, and learning basic Kiswahili using the Duolingo app to prepare myself to move there.”
Joyce’s time living abroad in Tanzania was split mostly between Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Zanzibar. She enjoyed the diverse landscapes, natural beauty, and wonders Tanzania has to offer, including Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, wildlife-rich national parks, such as the Serengeti, and Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean coast.
“I could work at a beach resort one day and a local café on the next. I liked the freedom of being able to change my environment when working. I would describe my time in Tanzania as a Nollywood movie, from witnessing my friend having an emergency brain operation in Zanzibar to having an impromptu music jam session with Tanzanian musicians in the rain. The spontaneous road trips. Watching the beautiful traditional Adumu dance by the Maasai tribe. Making Mtori soup and chapati with a friend from the Chagga tribe. Discovering my love of Amapiano music while experiencing Tanzania’s vibrant nightlife.”
Joyce witnessed the country mourn the losses of Zanzibar’s first vice president, Seif Sharif Hamad, and Tanzanian president, John Magufuli. She was there as Samia Suluhu Hassan made history as the first female president of Tanzania and in East Africa. It was a heart-breaking yet also hopeful time for the people of Tanzania.
One of the things Joyce loved the most about living abroad in Tanzania was its strong sense of community, and for her, it was the people that made Tanzania truly unforgettable. She made many friends who became like family to her and received an overwhelming outpouring of kindness and hospitality.
She was invited to stay in peoples’ homes and was genuinely looked after and cared for as she navigated the country as a foreign newcomer.
“One time, I was at a bar where someone was celebrating their birthday. They offered a slice of cake to everyone present. I had a similar experience on Mbudya Island and soon realized that this is a common occurrence in Tanzania. It reminded me a lot of Nigeria. From the moment I arrived at the airport, an immigration official said to me ‘karibu dada,’ which means ‘welcome sister.’ Even with over 120 ethnic groups there is a lack of tribalism, which makes the country relatively peaceful. The ethnic groups integrated well with each other while still maintaining their own languages, customs, and traditions, which add to the beautiful diverse culture.”
Unfortunately, Joyce was unable to renew her visa for a third time. She would have to leave the country and re-enter again. Instead of returning to the UK, she decided to explore the neighboring country of Kenya, traveling by road to Nairobi. She had no trouble leaving Tanzania, however, when she went to Kenyan immigration with her approved e-visa, she encountered some trouble.
“They started interrogating me and asking me why I stayed for so long in Tanzania. They accused me of planning to overstay in Kenya. They were trying to find something they could use so that I could bribe them, but I didn’t budge. They were checking my negative COVID test certificate repeatedly and demanded proof of payment for my test. Luckily, I had not thrown my receipt away. They asked for my return ticket and I explained to them that a few months ago I changed my return ticket to an open ticket, as I was not ready to go back to the UK just yet. They threatened to deport me back to Tanzania if I didn’t show them proof of a return ticket. I quickly pulled up my original ticket, which had a return date to the UK for March, and they finally let me enter Kenya.”
After spending two months in Kenya, Joyce headed to Nigeria, where she is currently staying. She will soon return to Tanzania to visit friends and will continue scoping out which African country she wants to relocate to long term.
“My heart is set on living in Ghana, but I know one thing for sure; the next country I live in will be on the African continent because that’s where I feel most at peace and at home.”
To read more about Joyce’s life in Africa, visit her blog at www.diywithjoy.com.