Yesterday, a colleague of mine and I went down to the police station in order to apply for our ‘certificate of good conduct’ which we both need in order for us to have background checks in the UK and Kenya. Today we went back to the police station after the person in charge of it, called up to the school and said that we should come now to get our fingerprints done. The timing worked out as I had Kiswahili so my class was covered. We drove to pick up her husband and then off to the police station. After waiting a bit we had to discuss the options on how much it would cost and how long it would take. We got our fingerprints taken and had to answer questions for the application form, then pay. Easy right? All except for the questions….
Elizabeth and I were making our coffee in the staff room this morning. She says “Were you born in China or in England?”. Neither, I said “America”. “Ah! Such a TCK”, she replied and we laughed.
Back to the police station….
Victor said he would ask me the questions and I should write down the answers. He will transfer them to the application later. Sounds easy enough?
So Victor asked me my name. (Semi-complicated, because my name on my passport is different than the name I go by.)
I write down my name.
Victor asks me my age. Sweet. I can answer this one.
Victor asks me my religion. A sigh of relief in my soul – this too is uncomplicated. I write down Christian.
Victor asks me to write down my tribe. Well, I don’t have a tribe because I’m mzungu, but of course he doesn’t want me to write mzungu. I’m meant to write my citizenship instead. Here comes the problem. Should I write American? British? Half of my paperwork in Tanzania has been processed using the British passport, and half the American passport. I need the paperwork for the British government to get my DBS background check. The Victor guy thinks I’m Chinese because I speak Chinese and Elizabeth starts to try to explain TCK but that gets completely lost in translation. Two citizenships are completely foreign to Tanzanians. I don’t want to get this wrong though, because it will delay the paperwork or make it impossible to get my certificate. So the so-called “clarifying” questions come…. “What citizenship are your parents?” Again, the answer is both. “But where is your permanent residence? “Um…. Tanzania?” Let me see your driving license he says… I pull out my driving license and he examines it. It says Iringa is my permanent residence, so I know that won’t help him. Finally, he decides that because it is for the British government, I should put British as my tribe.
Victor asks me to write down my phone number. Oh, thank goodness, we’re back in familiar territory.
Next is my city, which also is fine, because it is my Tanzania residence and I am spared trying to decide where to put in the UK as my city since I haven’t actually moved yet.
Then we left, went to the ATM to get the money, and came back. Waited some more, and handed over our money and our extra money to expedite the paperwork. Hopefully the complicated part is over and now all I need to do is go back to pick it up in a week.
Please tell me I’m not the only person to not know answers to questions that should be simple.