Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nyerere's Butiama straggles with district status

How we remember the good old times when Butiama retained the character of a village! The new reality struck home recently after I strained my ankle, having fallen off my bicycle.

Remember the good old days when, if hurt, you could receive medical attention in hospital by obtaining the Police Form 3 (PF3) and then proceeding to hospital for treatment? The law has apparently received a minor, critical, change.

I was told that the current procedure for issuing the form would require police to file a case against me before I get the treatment. The police officer explained his predicament (and mine) and asked aloud: "Now what can we charge with you?"

I almost offered the following suggestion: "Riding a bicycle in a reckless manner, with total disregard for my own safety and consequently injuring myself." But I thought it wise not to tempt him.

But he was helpful. He told me to go to the hospital and explain to the doctor that I hurt myself while cycling and ask the doctor to provide treatment. I did, and the doctor accepted my explanation.

Mwalimu Nyerere said, a long time ago, that residents of Butiama should remain residents of a village. The government had other ideas and decided that Butiama should become a district. This new procedure for processing the PF3 form probably has nothing to do with Butima having being designated a district, but it is likely that we are at the beginning of the end of village life as we know it.
Mwalimu Nyerere rides a bicycle
Mwalimu Nyerere rides a bicycle.
The era of falling of a bicycle and ending up in court for reckless cycling has arrived.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Here's the ultimate in old school syncing

I have had enough hard disk crashes, and lost enough mobile phones to know that traditional methods of storing information are more reliable than the latest computer based backup systems,

Nothing beats pen and paper when it comes to preserving your data. And nothing beats backing up your information written on paper than a backup system that is based on pen and paper.

So, for a while, I have been experimenting with just that; backing up my information on my personal diary with a desk-based larger diary.
My information backup system.
It is extremely reliable, no doubt, but it consumes much more time than a few clicks on the laptop. Maybe I'll just postpone this old new way of recording information and post it at the end of my todo items for next year. That is, on my desk diary.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Letter from Butiama: the temptations of leadership

I recently opened my Christmas present (Yes, because I have been traveling rather frequently and only had the chance to get to the post office in late March), and it contained contents of a coveted brand of biscuits. The biscuits reminded me of the following article I wrote.

The article, from my column "Letter from Butiama", was published in the Sundays News of 1 November 2009.

I have developed a strong friendship with a group of children, some are my nieces and nephews but most are my neighbours’ children. The reason for the bond is evident: I frequently share with them sweets, bananas, but mostly, biscuits, having in recent years developed a keen taste for biscuits after having almost entirely weaned myself from a variety of Tanzanian lagers.

Think of a highly popular leader, such as Nelson Mandela, as the principal candidate of a “dream ticket” comprising political figures from each continent, all working together on one campaign ticket and with me on the opposing side with hands tied, mouth gagged and under house arrest throughout the campaign period and I still would win the elections if these children were the only voters in that election.

Not long ago, two of the children showed up and asked me for some of the usual treats. I said I had none, but recalled having an unopened packet of biscuits and went to my bedroom to fetch it. It was a brand that the supermarket attendant had recommended after I found they had run out of my favourite biscuits. I decided beforehand I would taste one of the biscuits before handing over the entire contents to the children. It was a decision that has altered our hitherto good relations.

They were labeled “shortbread” but the exceptional taste I experienced had nothing “short” about it and undoubtedly contradicted that label. Contrary to my earlier decision to hand over the entire box, I ended up reversing my earlier decision: I gave them two biscuits each and retained the rest.
My Christmas present.
I keep telling myself that it was only biscuits, that I was the only one with the compromising information, and no one was adversely affected, but I wondered whether relations, particularly of leadership, might produce similar choices to particular individuals where the stakes are much higher than a two thousand shilling box of biscuits, less four.

However, leadership is not only limited to politics and the range extends to virtually every aspect of society, including parenting where the subjects end up licking the crumbs while the leader gets the cake.

The Irish wit, poet, and dramatist Oscar Wilde wrote: “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” Those who yield to various temptations will most likely support such comments, but such support accepts a weakness rather than confronting it. It would be ideal if those who cannot replicate acceptable leadership will yield, not to temptation, but to those who are likely to provide some semblance of exemplary leadership that does not succumb to temptation, although even such advice is easier said than implemented.

In the recently ended local government elections in one village of Mara region voters were presented with two of what can only be termed as difficult choices for the position of village chairperson. One of the candidates, a former leader, had been accused in the past of involvement in selling off the village’s machinery and equipment in a questionable arrangement with a businessman, while the opposing candidate is accused of cooperating with armed robbers. Not surprisingly, what leaders of apparent dubious character cannot accomplish themselves, a little campaigning and the backing of political parties can make a difference. The campaign strategy of the winning team boiled down to the following: would you rather have a leader who hatches and perhaps profits from dubious deals or one who is a possible gangster? The voters chose the former.

We do not always possess the possibility of choosing our leaders, because some choices do not involve a political process, but where it does and the choices are between an awful and a dreadful leader it is perhaps time voters are given the opportunity to reject both. An overwhelming choice against two unacceptable candidates should not only bar the rejected candidates from contesting, but should only allow re-election of fresh candidates and could encourage some introspection by political parties who then might present better choices to the voters.

The temptation I faced when confronted with maintaining my good standing with my "friends" and retaining a packet must be trivial compared to those faced by some of our politicians, so powerful and overwhelming that if left to the individual candidate alone it is highly likely that it is the winning candidates who will feast on the bread while  the populace will be left with the crumbs.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

36 hours in Butiama: what to do

If you have 36 hours in Butiama here's what I suggest you should do. Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Tanzania's founding president was born in Butiama in April 1922 and was buried here in October 1999.

The village of Butiama is located south east of Lake Victoria in north-eastern Tanzania. There are two principal ways of traveling to Butiama. By road, Butiama is 40 kilometres (35 minutes) away from Musoma, the regional centre. Mwanza, is 190 kilometres (3 hours) away by road. Precision Air operated commercial flights to Musoma twice a week but it appears the service has been canceled, while Fastjet, Precision, and Air Tanzania have daily flights to Mwanza. The Kenyan border post of Isebania is only 120 kilometres (2 hours) from Butiama. Visitors to Butiama arriving through Mwanza have the option of using public transportation (passenger buses) plying between Mwanza and Musoma to travel to Butiama. Alternatively, arrangements can be made to hire vehicles to pick up and drop passengers in Mwanza.

As most of the activity is outdoors, it is best to visit Butiama in the drier months, between January and February and between June and October. However, even during the rainy season it is still possible to find non-rainy days where visits can be carried out, as is the case now.

My work as co-ordinator of the Butiama Cultural Tourism Enterprise (BCTE) has given me valuable experience in providing travel guidance to Butiama's visitors. In fact, I will be your guide leading you through the various attractions, if you choose to visit.

Why would anyone want to visit Butiama? Its mix of attractions is unique: history, culture, archeology, and - for visitors who have more than 36 hours - Butiama is only a short hop from the world-famous Serengeti National Park.
A Giraffe in the Serengeti National Park.

Here's the proposed itinerary for day 1 (full day):
  • arrival in the morning
  • visit mausoleum of Mwalimu Nyerere and the compound of Chief Nyerere Burito (his father) 
  • visit the Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere Museum
  • lunch and rest
  • afternoon traditional dance performance
  • visit Muhunda ancestral forest
  • evening barbecue with Zanaki elders recounting Zanaki traditions and folklore
Here's the proposed itinerary for day 2 (half a day):
  • breakfast
  • visit residences of Mwalimu Nyerere, including his library of 8,000+ books, and a view of old rock art, dated to be more than 20,000 years old
  • lunch
  • departure for Musoma or Mwanza
Visitors in Mwalimu Nyerere's library.
For those who have more than 36 hours, the world-famous Serengeti National Park is less than an hour from Butiama and is one of several attractions that are worth visiting from Butiama.

Email me for more details on planning your trip to Butiama.

Find out current airfares to Mwanza:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Visitors to Butiama

Part of my work as coordinator for the Butiama Cultural Tourism Enterprise is to receive visitors and respond to questions on Butiama's historical and cultural heritage.

Recently I had another privilege of receiving visiting students and teachers from Kowak Girls' Secondary School. The students did not have a lot of questions to ask, but we posed for several photographs, including the one above.