The questions asked during this field research were in reference to “Influence of American Culture & Popular Culture”
Q1: Do you like American movies? American music?
Q2: What do you think about America’s influence on your culture?
Q3: What do you think about Americans?
Q4: What do you think about African Americans?
Q5: What do you think about current U.S. President, Barack Obama?
Q6: If you had a chance to live or study in America, would you?
My first interviewee was Isaac, a 26-year-old male from Tanzania. He stated that he liked American films, but couldn’t specify any. He spoke little English, so his friend, Khatibu, was translating occasionally. He felt there was no American influence on his culture, and decided not to comment on what he thought about Americans or African Americans. I think this was due to the fact that he was answering to me, an American student, and he may have felt that by stating his true feelings he would have offended me. He stated, however, that he liked Obama. I learned from another one of my classmates that one of the sentiments from another interviewee was that since Obama’s father was from Kenya, and Obama had no slave-lineage from America, that he was a true African (despite the fact that he was born in Hawaii and his mother is Caucasian). My interviewee could not explain why he liked Obama, he just did. He said he wouldn’t live in America, or even visit, either.
My second interviewee was Leon, a 23-year-old male from Tanzania. His favorite American artist was Justin Bieber (I asked him about three times if he was being serious, because I thought he may have been playing with me…he was serious). He also liked the TV show “Vampire Diaries.” When I asked him what he thought about Americans, he stated that he believed Americans were very strategic, competitive, and that they “learn a lot to achieve a lot.” He believed African Americans, however, differed from Africans because they “prefer the American life,” and that because the American culture changes them, there is a gap between Africans and African Americans. This answer seemed a bit contradicting to me, because “preferring” to adopt the American life means that the individual had a choice, while being “changed by culture” means an individual has been socialized. I thought it interesting to learn from another one of my classmates that their interviewee stated that if African Americans could not trace their ancestry back to their tribal family in Africa, that they could not claim to be an “African” American, but only claim to be a black American. Nonetheless, my interviewee did not state his opinion in a negative way. He said he wishes to live in America, preferably Maryland or Washington.
My third interviewee was Linus, a 22-year-old male from Tanzania. I loved the fact that his favorite artist was Kanye West, because I am a big fan of Kanye’s earlier career. He spoke of Americans in a very positive light, stating that Americans are “good,” “social,” and “knowledgeable.” While debriefing with the rest of my classmates, I learned that other interviewees thought well of Americans and their intentions, for they are aware of American organizations that provide financial aid, education, and research to African countries. My interviewee also had a positive opinion of African Americans, claiming that there is no gap between Africans and African Americans because all people are “brothers and sisters,” and Africa is our mother. This comment was my favorite.
I thanked them all for their time, and gave them my business card in case they had any future questions or wanted to keep in touch. Visiting the University of Dar Es Salaam and doing this 1st field research was a very eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about the sentiments and opinions of some of the African people, and I feel that these students appreciated our interest in what they may have pondered about in their minds at some time, because some of them had a lot to say.