“Actually, my favourite animal is a dog”

It seems ironic that chimpanzee guru Jane Goodall – who even in her late 70s travels 300+ days per year and never stays longer than 3 weeks in one place – would be just as happy spending time with the family pet.

Together with probably every other expat in Dar, I went along to a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Jane’s Journey, followed by a Q+A with the star herself. Those asking the questions were mainly the loud and cocky kids attending international schools (“Do chimps eat vegetables?”, “What are your grandchildrens’ names?”). Goodall never missed a beat; she’s good with people, not just with chimpanzees. She started out with them, of course, here in Western Tanzania, back when it was still Tanganyika and a British protectorate, but her work soon became about the bigger picture: humans, animals, the environment, and peace. She convinces people to do something about all these causes. One of the more heartbreaking stories of a community inspired by her is that of a small, bleak North American town that has the 2nd highest suicide rate in the world, where a few people are achieving small things that people told them would never work.

And that’s her pitch, if you like, so that you leave thinking anything is possible. If she, as a naive unqualified 26 year-old white girl could set off to the dark continent and there break scientific ground back in the 1960s – though people had told her she was mad to go;  if one of her own heroes, a soldier who lost his eyesight and decided he would become a magician – though people had said he couldn’t do it, well… makes you feel a bit lame for making excuses.

 

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