Saturday, 13 October 2012

100 thing challenge: Tanzania Style

I recently read a book called 'The 100 thing challenge' by Dave Bruno. It's about an ordinary American man who decides to reduce his possessions to 100. He doesn't include items he shares with his family, such as kitchen items. He also groups things together: all his books count as one item. By the end of the challenge he's living with way over 100 things, yet he feels satisfied that he is leading a more fulfilled life.

Living in Tanzania, 100 items seems like a lot for one person. For many Tanzanians 100 personal possessions would be hard to imagine. For Maasai people who live traditionally, wealth is measured in cows. If a man has 100 cows, he's considered wealthy. He can probably also afford to have about 4 wives. Cows provide sustenance and a large herd means stability. Yet even a Masaai with 100 cows has few other possessions: typically some mud huts for his family and cattle to sleep in, containers for storing milk and cow's blood, red robes, a pair of sandals, a mobile phone, and little else. If a Masaai man living a traditional life were to follow the 100 thing challenge, I'd imagine 90 of his chosen possessions would be cows.

I'll be moving in 10 months or so (I don't know to which country yet) and I'm thinking about reducing my stuff. I moved here with 4 cardboard boxes, but want to move away with less. One advantage of living in Tanzania is being removed from materialism: I used to buy a lot of clothes, and now I don't. Those which I do have are getting worn from hand washing and I haven't been buying new ones. So that should make it easy for me to take less with me than I brought here. 100 things doesn't seem like much, but I'm going to start getting my list together this week to see if I can do it.

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