Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Heard through the grapevine: Anna Tibaijuka to run for parliament

During my recent visit to Muleba district in Kagera region I was informed that Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General at UN Habitat, will be contesting the Muleba South parliamentary seat in this year's general elections in October.

She will join former Dar es Salaam special zone police commander Alfred Tibaigana to challenge incumbent Wilson Masilingi, who was the minister responsible for good governance in former President Benjamin Mkapa's administration.

My source reveals that the incumbent has a strong following, and believes he will retain his seat. I was reminded of President Mkapa's successful bid and eventual win of the ruling party's presidential ticket during the general elections in 1995.

Most analysts gave Mkapa a slim chance against the leading candidates: Jakaya Kikwete, and Cleopa Msuya. Former president Julius Nyerere, who many believe supported Mkapa during the primary elections, said:
If one of the leading candidates does not get the majority of the votes cast after the first round, forcing a second ballot, and if Mkapa comes third in that first round then Mkapa will win the nomination after the second vote. If Mkapa comes first or second after the first ballot, his winning chances are slim.
That is what happened, and I thought Mwalimu Nyerere was a genius. But the logic was simple: After the first ballot, the second runner-up would normally throw his support (and votes) behind the third-placed candidate to deny the leading candidate victory. That is what appears to have happened; on the second round Msuya's delegates at the electoral conference voted for Mkapa.

The parliamentary electoral system for the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), has been reviewed and instead of delegates voting at an electoral conference this year it will be party members who will cast their votes to nominate the candidate. The success of any candidate will rest sorely on what the party membership decides for each constituency, and I don't believe there will be opportunities for second ballots.

That said, I am yet to know who of the three candidates for Muleba South should be considered the weakest.

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Friday, 26 February 2010

Letter from Butiama: Culinary surprises

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 26th June 2005. 

It is said that most of the trade in meat for human consumption in Mara region is controlled by people from the Zanaki ethnic group. You will find them throughout the supply chain as cattle owners, as traders who buy and sell cattle, and more importantly, as owners of retails sales outlets. They are also making significant inroads into the business in the city of Mwanza.

One of the important lessons learned from investigating the factors that distinguish excellent companies from mediocre ones is the fact that the managers of excellent companies have concentrated activity in products or services they know well. One of the cattle traders I met recently seems to be well aware of this fact. He gave me a lesson about the various characteristics of meat from the various parts of a cow and concluded that the tastiest beef from a cow is from the inner thigh. Such above-average knowledge of one's product may explain the near-monopoly the Wazanaki enjoy in the cattle and beef trade in Mara region. I can see the possibility of Zanaki beef tycoons a hundred years from today controlling Africa's beef trade in the manner the Japanese have cornered the car market.

Notwithstanding the Zanaki's passion for cattle and beef, it remains true that one person's passion can become another people's taboo. The largest clash in cultures may be found in the choices that people from different cultures make about what they eat and what they don't. With some religions the consumption of meat is taboo. Vegetables and staples bear the burden of meeting the food demands of those cultures.

When a Tanzanian presidential delegation visited a European country in the 1970s a member of the delegation, during the dinner hosted by the Tanzanian president, came up with a practical joke whose outcome ruined everyone's appetite. He lied to a fellow Tanzanian that during an earlier dinner hosted by the monarch of the host country, the visitors had been served and eaten frogs legs.

It was meant to be a side chat between the two, but it produced unexpected results. After learning that he had eaten frog's legs several days earlier this man became violently ill and within minutes vomited on the royal plates.

During my student days in Italy, I and a friend called George from the Democratic Republic of Congo were invited to dinner by an Italian friend. He explained to us after placing the order that he had selected a special dish for us, normally reserved for close friends or special guests. He had ordered frogs legs. It was the first time I had eaten frogs legs and I recall the taste resembled the taste of fish. After the plates were placed in front of us George almost stood up to take a chair at the next table. As I and the Italian friend began to eat the legs George could not hide the agony of having to sit at the same table with us; the expression on his face reflected that of someone witnessing a horrendous act.

Our host, who had traveled to some African countries was surprised at George's reaction. How could George find frogs legs revolting when Giuseppe had seen people in Africa eat those insects that fly at night after it rains. Senene [termites], I thought to myself. George failed to understand our host's argument. How can anyone compare eating those insects with eating frogs? They were two completely different categories.

Neither George nor Giuseppe had eaten both frogs legs and Senene, and I was quietly amused that here were two people in an argument, which they were, in reality, not even qualified to participate in. I was the only one who had eaten both, yet I am still undecided which of the two is tastier.

But I believe I can safely say that taste is only in one's head. I have in the past summoned the courage to eat the most ghastly-looking varieties of food, only to find out they had delicious tastes. Different from one of our compatriots who fell ill in the company of a president and a monarch, I knew what I was eating at that restaurant somewhere in Italy, so the only surprise I can write about is that memorable taste of frogs legs.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Notburga Maskini to challenge Basil Mramba in next elections

One of the participants of last year's Mwalimu Nyerere Charity Climb, Notburga Maskini, has announced her intention to contest the parliamentary seat for Rombo Constituency in Tanzania's general elections in October. Rombo's current MP is Basil Mramba, former Finance Minister in President Kikwete's government.
Notburga announces her candidacy for Rombo Constituency in Dodoma, recently.
I know enough about Notburga to realize she is a determined person, and the fact that she is challenging Mramba is no small undertaking. She is no small fry herself; she is currently the Vice President of the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA).

These are some of her quotes in relation to her candidacy when she made the announcement in Dodoma recently:
I have the experience and the ability of doing this work because I have worked in management and public administration for 25 years...

I have a great responsibility to pay my debt to society....

I agree with the concept advocated by development and gender experts that the absence of a balance in the involvement of both genders in development plans by decision-making bodies is one of the reasons for the absence of sustainable development and crucial social services....

I have great respect for public servants and leaders who fulfill their responsibilities to the people by providing exceptional public service, and with integrity; Public servants to whom respect comes from commendable public service to the people and not through money or their position....

Rombo district has many development challenges...environmental degradation, scarcity of water, and poverty among a great number of its residents, particularly women, youth, children, and the elderly with special needs....

If the general elections are used judiciously, it is an opportunity to introduce change that is directed at improving the availability of relevant social services for the development of the people....

I will cooperate with other stakeholders to ensure that opportunities such as Saccos [Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies] and financial institutions that provide preferential loans; and the opportunities that are available in the international community, for example, protection of the environment (clean development mechanism) are used to obtain capital for investing and for self-employment in agriculture, the environment, animal husbandry and income-generating projects....

Tourism, small-scale industries, and small scale businesses will contribute towards raising the level of the economy and the use of the opportunities of the East African Common Market; this is because Rombo constituency is practically at the entrance of that market....

The actual environmental conditions surrounding Rombo constituency is a challenge confronting the livelihood of this and the next generation. I have the intention of participating and developing a sustainable plan to protect and improve our resource and natural heritage, Mount Kilimanjaro....

L-R: Gerald Hando of Clouds FM, Notburga, and the author of this blog just before we began our Mt. Kilimanjaro climb last October.
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Thursday, 18 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - December

December 16, 2009

I attended the funeral in Dar es Salaam of my friend Abdulhakim "Kim" Magomelo. After prayers at the Ngazija Mosque the funeral procession (on foot) turned into Sewa Street, then on to Zanaki Street past the Zanzibar Bar (where I frequently joined Kim and other friends in the days when beers flowed like the waters of the Nile), across the busy Bibi Titi road, and then on to Olympio Street and to the Kisutu Cemetery.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - November

November 9, 2009
I discovered, after several years of making the 80-kilometre round trip to Musoma, that I can access the Internet from this room at Butiama. If I had found that out ten years ago I would have saved a lot of money in fuel expenses.
The view is breathtaking. On a clear day I can see Lake Victoria in the distance in front of me. On the right is Mt. Mtuzu where the phone company, Vodacom has its cell site. That is also where I hike to in preparation for the annual Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.

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Saturday, 13 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - October

October 7, 2009
After 6 days of mountain trekking, I (left in photo, behind Allen, the mountain guide and harmonica player) reached the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak at 5,896m above sea level, with Gerald Hando of Clouds FM (right) on the 2nd annual Mwalimu Nyerere Charity Climb.
After about 19 hours of walking, I caught this image of Kilimanjaro after we passed through Barafu Camp on our way towards our night's rest at Mweka Camp. We still had about four hours of walking ahead of us. The ascent to Uhuru peak had begun at midnight and it was not until after 10 in the evening that we reached Mweka Camp. It is the longest trek in a day of the 8-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro through the Lemosho route.

October 14, 2009
I drove again through the Serengeti, this time in a small car and a pair of Giraffes stood and posed for my camera.
The Zebra were busy grazing.

October 17, 2009
I was back in the Moshi area at Rundugai where my host took me to visit a natural spring source. It is believed that the water originates several hundred miles away from Lake Victoria.

October 19, 2009
I drove again through the national parks and as I was descending from the Ngorongoro crater escarpment on my way towards the Serengeti I saw this lone vulture perched on a piece of rock and seemingly in ill health.

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Friday, 12 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - September

September 2, 2009
Each time I travel to Dar es Salaam I get the impression I am in a foreign country. Last time it was a Lamborghini, this time I saw this stretch limousine parked near St. Peter's Cathedral.

September 7, 2009

From snakes in my room to bugs in my shoes, the bugs keep following me everywhere. I woke up in my room in Dar es Salaam to find a centipede in my boot, an incident that I found unusual for Dar es Salaam. I had a similar experience at Butiama which I felt appropriate because there is less concrete and more natural habitat at Butiama. The number of legs of the various species of centipedes can range from 20 to 300; its sting is painful and can produce an anaphylactic shock, an experience I have suffered from a bee sting and one which you would not want to experience.

September 19, 2009

On my drive back to Butiama with the big truck, I stopped at Chalinze to fix a puncture on the Tanzania-Zambia Highway, 90 kilometres from Dar es Salaam. After I used the urinal, I caught this "peeping cat" quietly observing me.

September 21, 2009

On my drive through the Serengeti National Park I crossed the Hippo pool with several Hippos in view.

September 22, 2009

After driving past Fort Ikoma, a giraffe crossed my path. This area has a large concentration of giraffes.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - August

August 17, 2009

At the famous Lango Moja area of Mwanza City, I bought a used pair of hiking boots for my next Mt. Kilimanjaro climb. The place has a wide selection of used shoes, some in near-perfect condition. But not this pair, which showed strains of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro by the time I descended in October.

August 21, 2009

At a cyber cafe' in Musoma, the regional capital of Mara region, I caught up with George Marato, the famous ITV reporter who frequently runs into controversies. In addition to his work as a TV reporter, he also regularly writes for several newspapers.

August 22, 2009

I began a 1,300 kilometre drive with a 5-ton truck to transport equipment from Butiama to Dar es Salaam. At Robanda, located 5 kilometres from the Ikoma Gate of the Serengeti National Park, I made my pit and overnight stop.

August 23, 2009

About an hour's drive into the Serengeti, I caught a glimpse of two hot air balloons rising above the Savannah, carrying tourists on a game viewing flight.

The truck developed some mechanical fault and I had to stop at the Ngorongoro Crater and search for a mechanic. While searching for the mechanic near the headquarters of the Ngorongoro Area Conservation Authority, I saw two Zebras standing motionlessly, one of them next to a sign reading "Reserved Parking".

Saturday, 6 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - July

July 13, 2009
Professor Ikaweba Bunting (right) watches the performance of the Egumba Cultural group at Butiama during the visit he led of students from California State University at Long Beach. Part of a three-unit course titled "The Cultures of African Peoples" that he teaches at the University brings students to Tanzania to get hands on experience of what they learn in class.

July 18, 2009

I visited the village of Mariwanda, less than two hours' drive from Butiama, with colleagues from an association invloved with promoting cultural tourism in the Lake Victoria area. At Mariwanda we documented the cultural attractions offered by members of the Taturu ethnic group.

Taturu culture has some resemblance to Masai culture. In the first photograph (above), a Taturu women places firewood into a specially-prepared surface; she later lit the firewood, and placed a huge pot on top to prepare tea.

The second photograph shows Taturu women skinning a cow they had slaughtered moments earlier, a task that is done only by women. One of the men told me, "Taturu men don't touch blood."

The two remaining photos show Taturu women in traditional wear.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

My version of the year 2009 in review - June

June 13, 2009

Many of Mwanza's residents live on small plots on the surrounding hills of the city of Mwanza. These hillside houses do not have proper drainage or sewage systems, although there have been plans to improve Mwanza's sewage system. When it rains it is said that the residents flush their pit latrine sewage systems with the rainwater that carries the waste into Lake Victoria.

June 17, 2009

I attended the funeral of Mzee Tito Budodi, a veteran politician from Mwanza associated with Tanganyika's independence movement. He was buried at his birthplace at the outskirts of the Mwanza.

The colours of the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi, yellow, black, and green featured prominently at the funeral. At the funeral...

I met a someone who introduced himself as Mwalimu Katani (top, left) who insisted that I (top, centre) visit her mother (top, right) who he told me is the widow of an activist who was also involved in the independence struggle.

June 25, 2009

Just after driving past the small town of Ramadi on my way to Mwanza, I caught a glimpse on my rear-view mirror of an unusual phenomena for the area, haze. It gave an image of the industrial pollution that is common in large urban centres. The sunrise looked like a sunset.