Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Friday, 29 July 2011

Solar powered laboratory at Kiabakari

I have brought a family member to the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Health Center at Kiabakari today.

The power blackout at Butiama means that clinical tests cannot be performed at the Butiama HospitaL.

The laboratory of the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Health Center uses solar power. It is indisputable that a little sunshine can make a lot of difference to our nation's health.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Egumba traditional dancers perform at Butiama

The Egumba Ngoma Group peforms at Butiama regularly.

On this occasion it performed for visitors from Scotland, France, and Canada. And from Butiama! When the show begins, residents of Butiama are also drawn to watch the action.

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Chausiku Suleiman's unending pregnancies

I recently was in Arusha and visited a woman called Chausiku Suleiman who lives at Maji ya Chai, on the road to Moshi, near Tengeru. She has a strange story to tell: She continuously conceives and becomes pregnant each time she gives birth - without copulation.

She is 47 and has given birth to 16 children within a span of 30 years. She is married and the problems began after her fifth pregnancy. Three weeks after giving birth she sensed she had become pregnant again. Her current pregnancy is said to be more than three years old.
Chausiku Suleiman with some her children at Maji Chai near Arusha.
When I asked whether she has sought medical advice on her condition, she said doctors have been unable to diagnose her condition and have told her they cannot detect a foetus in her womb. 

She suggested that they sense she is imagining a problem that does not exist.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mt. Kilimanjaro as seen from Longido

In late February at around six in the morning, while on a study tour of the Cultural Tourism Enterprise at Longido near the Kenyan border, I woke up and looked through the window and saw a silhouette of a mountain against the rising sun. Having taken an interest in mountains and mountaineering in recent years since I first climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2008 I took out my camera and as I held it up against the window of my guest house bedroom two children who were walking with pails on their way to fetch water, a boy and a girl, came into view on my viewfinder and the boy shouted at me saying, “That’s a very bad habit.”

Mt. Kilimanjaro as seen from Longido.
I did not respond, but angrily waved him to rush out of my camera’s sight and took this photo. It was only after I observed the photo days later did I realize I had a photo of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I had never observed the mountain from the western side as far west as Longido.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Visitors to Butiama: Dr. Thomas Molony

Dr. Thomas Molony, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of African Studies of the University of Edinburgh, is staying at Butiama for most of the month of July writing a book on Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922 – 1999), Tanzania’s founding president.

Dr. Thomas Molony
His biography on Mwalimu will cover the period between 1922 – 1952, when Mwalimu graduated from the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Molony has conducted research in Tanzania and the United Kingdom for some time and this is his second visit to Butiama. He aims to have the book published before the end of the year, in time for the 50th anniversary of Tanzania’s independence on 9th December.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Letter from Butiama: Heroes and villains

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 23 April 2006.


There was a time in the 1970s when Kung Fu films were tremendously popular with Tanzanian audiences.

These films were poorly written scripts and were popular only for the proficiency with which leading characters eliminated their opponents in fights.

One aspect that distinguished the earlier martial arts films from recent ones is the amount of blood that the opponents of the leading character spilled each time they received a fatal blow. Bleeding is an understatement; they vomited blood.

Many Tanzanian youngsters enrolled in martial arts classes at the time. I recall doing the same under an American martial arts instructor who held a black belt; the highest level one can reach. Together with many of my teenage mates, we were looking ahead to the day when we would also have black belts in Karate like our instructor. While the enthusiasm lasted – which was not long – we endured tough training sessions combining the Karate lessons with some rigorous physical exercises.

On our own, we also experimented with weapons that we saw used by our movie heroes. One of these consisted of a pair of wooden sticks of about an inch thick and about a foot long that were connected together with a metal chain of about two feet long. In combat, one stick would be held in one hand and the other dangling stick would be rotated in rapid circular motions and would be used to strike an adversary with violent blows.

To a novice the most difficult part of using those two sticks and a chain – we called it a nunchaku although I have no idea whether the name is originally from the Japanese language or whether it was a local creation – was to ensure that the rotating stick did not hit the user. Unfortunately it did, quite often, and was extremely painful. It was made of ebony, with assistance from the Makonde sculptors at Mwenge in Dar.

A lasting impression I have of those days, apart from the fact that I still remember to count in Japanese from one to ten, is the common belief that we would not only become holders of black belts in Karate like our instructor, which was quite possible, but more important to us youngsters was the possibility that we would also acquire the skills to enable us to beat the senses out of a dozen-or-so people simultaneously and single-handedly, which was a normal dream for our age.

Martial arts were not, to us, concerned with placing emphasis on the practitioner’s philosophical and spiritual development; we were interested in developing the gut spilling and bone crunching skills we saw on film.

I believe that in every generation of teenage film enthusiasts there is a group of fictional characters that stands out as heroes. It is likely that some of these heroes leave their mark on their audience, maybe even permanently. There have been cowboy heroes and war heroes and even gangster heroes.

I recall seeing a few films in which criminals, after executing successful robberies or other criminal activities, successfully evade the long arm of the law and are depicted, at the end, living off their criminal gains at a small island nation in the West Indies.

Following last Thursday’s fatal shooting of a policeman and a bank employee in a robbery attempt in Dar-es-salaam, I am beginning to wonder whether the gangster and criminal movies that are widely-available may have bred a generation of individuals who are trying, in real life, to emulate criminal movie characters.

Only if such a scenario exists would it be possible to attempt to understand the new breed of armed robbers who seem to be equally interested in taking the money as well as the lives of individuals who seem to be standing in their way.

“It was like in the movies,” I heard someone comment of the incident. The reported response by one Corporal Mkwawa, a traffic policeman, and three other policemen who mounted a counter-attack and forced the attackers to retreat and later flee also sounded like stuff from movies.

If we can pin some blame on Hollywood and Bollywood for influencing criminal behaviour then we must also look at the other side of the coin which also replayed itself in real life: the few heroes whose actions foiled the plans of the attackers. It was not exactly Rambo, but nevertheless, a few uniformed officers who, lately, have tended to receive more criticism than praise did some courageous work.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The sherpas of Mt. Kilimanjaro

The Sherpas of Mt. Kilimanjaro are known as “wagumu”, the tough ones.

There is little dispute that they are engaged in strenuous work, carrying heavy loads of food, tents, and equipment for the mountain climbing expeditions. It takes only a pass through some of the tough sections of the climb, for example, the Breakfast Climb from Barranco to Karanga camp, for any novice trekker, carrying a much lighter day pack, to realize that the “wagumu” are indeed of a different breed.

They soon leave behind the groups of trekkers led on a slower pace by the mountain guides as they rush with the heavy loads to the next destination to set up the tents and meals for the trekkers.
Kibo peak is seen behind a group of Kilimanjaro porters, posing with two trekkers, on the last day of an expedition at Mweka Camp. Photo courtesy: Dmitry.
The tough work invariably engenders a lavish spending spree after each successive expedition. On receiving their pay, a majority of the Kilimanjaro porters are said to spend their money excessively on drinking binges. A barmaid in Moshi told me recently that he has seen many who drink their entire earnings in a matter of hours and then inflict wounds on themselves and stagger back to their homes to lie to their wives they were mugged.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Visitors to Butiama: Musoma choir shoots video at Mwitongo

Members of Kwaya ya Uamsho (The Reawakening Choir) from the Anglican Diocese of Musoma were at Butiama on Thursday for a video production for a music video that they will release in about a month.


Mwitongo is becoming a destination for video productions and this choir is the latest of about half a dozen choirs that have used Mwitongo’s setting for video productions.

Monday, 4 July 2011

The fruit vendors of Nyamisisi

If there is one feature that defines Nyamisisi it has to be fruits. Located on the Mwanza – Musoma Highway, about 15 kilometers from Butiama, it swarms with fruit sellers offering all sorts of fruits, as well as vegetables, groundnuts, and boiled corn.
Fruit and vegetable vendors offer their products to bus passengers at Nyamisisi.
It is an activity that is carried out predominantly by women; I do not recall seeing male vendors at Nyamisisi. When the buses that ply the Mwanza – Musoma Highway stop at Nyamisisi the women swarm to both sides of the buses to offer their products to passengers, sometimes perilously ignoring passing traffic. Any car which stops at Nyamisisi is assumed to carry a potential buyer and on occasions when I have parked at Nyamisisi to pick up a visitor arriving by bus, the vendors habitually and persistently try to sell me something even when I clearly state I have no intention of buying anything. Only the arrival of a bus or another car provides relief as they rush away to find yet another buyer.

My visit to one beneficiary of last year's Kilimanjaro climb

During last year’s Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb, I was joined by Mary Kalikawe from Kiroyera Tours and William Rutta of the Bukoba Disabled Assistance Project (BUDAP), a Bukoba-based organization formed in 2005 to provide “…appropriate training and employment in the production of handicrafts and related products” for its members, who are predominantly victims of polio.

BUDAP’s products include traditional drums, and handbags made from traditional African khanga and kitenge cloth.

After the climb I visited Bukoba and BUDAP’s premises near the Bukoba airport. I met some of BUDAP’s members and shared with them stories (only true ones) of the adventures of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

In the photograph, from left to right: Baraka, Ashirafu, Themistocles, the author of this post, and Elias.

If you wish to donate to BUDAP you can contact them through:

Bukoba Disabled Assistance Project (BUDAP)
P.O. Box 485
Bukoba - Tanzania.

The Butiama Cultural Tourism Programme

The village of Butiama is one of the latest locations included under the Cultural Tourism Programme of the Tanzania Tourist Board.

The Guidelines for Cultural Tourism in Tanzania (2009) issued by the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism define Cultural Tourism as follows:
Cultural Tourism is generally defined as a form of tourism whose main objective is the discovery and enjoyment of historic monuments, sites and cultural landscapes of an area. It mainly involves travelling to experience places and activities that represent the cultural history of the host communities.

In the Tanzania context however, cultural tourism adopts a community based tourism approach in which the people are directly involved in designing, organising tours and showing tourists aspects of their lives in the area they live in. While economic benefit is derived from this activity, some cross cultural exchange between visitors and the local people is also developed. Operating through the criteria of ownership of the activities undertaken and equitable distribution of the income generated are underlying factors of the programme. It is people tourism that enables tourists to experience the local people’s way of life, offering insights into the values, beliefs and traditions in the host communities’ own environments.
Butiama cultural tourism attractions include:
  • The  Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere Museum
  • The mausoleum of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Tanzania's founding president
The mausoleum of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere
  • Mwalimu Nyerere's private library of more than 8,000 books
  • The Muhunda ancestral forest
  • Nature walks and trekking around Butiama
  • Traditional dances of Mara region's ethnic groups
Traditional dancers entertaining guests at Butiama.
  • Climbing Mt. Chamuriyo, Mara region's highest mountain
The Butiama Cultural Tourism Enterprise coordinates visits under this programme.

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