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Translating Difference: A Chinese Buddhist Temple in Dar es Salaam

Longquan Tanhua Temple is the first mainland Chinese Buddhist mission in East Africa. For my fieldwork, I am living at the temple and its orphanage as a Chinese/English/Swahili translator, a driver, and a full time volunteer.


This photo is of children walking through the temple’s backyard towards the Indian Ocean.  While they attend local public school conducted in Swahili, before and after class they help conduct daily Buddhist prayers, and learn Chinese.  


This photo was taken during a cleansing ritual at the temple’s new property, where they plan to open a primary school, high school, and eventually a medical clinic. The ritual began with chanting in the abandoned chapel left behind by the Christian school which previously operated there.  



This photo was taken during a visit to the house of a Tanzanian congregation member who was injured in a traffic accident. We are praying to Avalokitesvara for their speedy recovery.  The engagements between Chinese Buddhists and Christian and Muslim Tanzanians is teaching me a lot about  how people engage across difference, how concepts are translated or mistranslated, and how religion, ethnicity, class and politics shape the first Buddhist mission on the Swahili coast.