Salmin Jumanne, a 12-year-old primary school student from Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, has been practicing Chinese kungfu for one and a half years as Chinese martial arts are gaining popularity among young Tanzanians.
Jumanne is one of the 25 kungfu enthusiasts at Dragon Warriors Club located at a bustling area called Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam. Every day from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., they gather at the club to practice kungfu.
“I am learning kungfu for self-defence, especially when walking to and from school,” said Jumanne before he started his evening training in a small outdoor training ground.
With a dream to become a world champion of kungfu in the future, the Tanzanian boy said the Chinese martial arts, apart from self-defence and body fitness, was also inculcating discipline in him.
“kungfu teaches me to be disciplined and respect my parents and other people that I come across,” said Jumanne, adding that he was obsessed with kungfu after he watched action movies featuring various Chinese actors.
Jumanne was accompanied by his elder brother Swalehe Jumanne, a 22-year-old college student who has been learning Chinese martial arts for more than three years.
“Many people think that kungfu is all about fighting, but in fact kungfu is about principles. It builds discipline and respect,” he said.
Ramadhani Mshana, the kungfu master who runs the Dragon Warriors Club, said he started cultivating interest in kungfu when he was young after watching kungfu movies starring Jet Li.
“One thing about kungfu is that its learning, or practice requires patience and energy,” said Mshana, who learnt kungfu from a Tanzanian teacher who was trained in China.
“The purpose of this training is for self-defense, for body fitness and as a professional job where trainees can participate in different competitions and get financial awards,”said Mshana.
Lots of Tanzanians are fans of Chinese kungfu but they lack money for joining kungfu training classes because in most cases they have to pay some fees, said Mshana.
In order to attract more people to join the club and share his passion in kungfu, Mshana decided to waive the fees for training.
“Initially each student paid 20,000 Tanzanian shillings (about 9 U.S. dollars) but we waived the fees after we had witnessed a decline in the number of those coming for training,” he said.
Now as more people are requesting to join the club, Mshana said he was planning to find a more spacious place in the city where all students can practice comfortably, hoping some of students in his kungfu club can someday compete in international competitions.