Mussa Maingu moved to East Lansing in 2000 with the goal of becoming a dentist. From Mwanza, Tanzania, he said the shortage of health care professionals in his home country was a primary influence on his career path.
“The health care system, the whole system in Tanzania, is a mess. And the government is not spending a lot of money to help,” Maingu said. “They are trying, but the income is not enough. They are poor.”
There are fewer than 1,000 doctors for 42 million people in the entire country of Tanzania, and Maingu and others came together Saturday at Lansing’s X-Cel Lounge-Dance Bar, 224 S. Washington Square, for Bongo Bash, a benefit for the Touch Foundation, a national charity that works to improve medical infrastructure in Tanzania.
At the fundraiser, organized by the Touch Foundation Young Leaders of Michigan, more than 50 MSU students, graduate students and Lansing Tanzanians danced to popular Tanzanian and African music, said MSU medical student Michael Beasley, an organizer of the event.
“A lot of people don’t really know about the richness of African music,” he said. “The African music isn’t just tribal music — drumming and dancing — there’s some very similar to American hip-hop and R&B, but at the same time, it has its own personality.”
Beasley served in the Peace Corps in Tanzania and, after living in the country for three years, he said he wanted to find a way to help the country’s broken medical system.
Beasley helped establish the Touch Foundation Young Leaders of Michigan with other Tanzanians living in the Lansing area and MSU students.
The goal of the evening was to raise $1,000, which would cover one year of tuition for a medical student in Tanzania. Beasley said the event raised about $800, but he said the foundation will continue with efforts in the future.
Maingu was the DJ at the event and selected Tanzanian favorites of the genre “bongo flava.”
Biochemistry senior Samuel Saitie is from Liberia, but he said many of the African hits and “bongo flava” songs were similar to music he listened to while growing up.
“A lot of it is similar to what I am used to in Liberia,” he said. “It reminds me of being back in high school at home.”
MSU graduate student Amy Jamison studied at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for one year and said hearing the African music reminded her of her time in Tanzania.
She said the need for health care professionals was obvious on a day-to-day basis in Tanzania.
“When I was in Tanzania, I saw a ridiculous need for (doctors),” she said. “I had a friend working in health care, and I would go with her to clinics and to see the shortage of staff there. It was really disturbing.”
Although Maingu said he is growing accustomed to the U.S., he hopes to move back to Tanzania and work as a dentist.
“For me this is more involved because … that is my home,” he said. “I was born there; I know … how it is.”
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