Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Saturday, 31 March 2012

My version of the year 2011 in review: 12 January

These road signs are situated at the Tarime and Sirari junction on the Musoma to Mwanza road.
I have driven past them at least once a week for the past decade but it is only on this day that I had a chance to observe them closely from the vantage point of a bus window.

From here, it is about an hour's drive to the border post with Kenya at Sirari - Isebania on the Kenyan side.

Because of Butiama's proximity to Kenya we have clearer broadcasts of Kenyan radio stations than Tanzanian ones.

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Andrea Wobmann is a member of the Kilimanjaro Club

The Kilimanjaro Club lists people who have climbed to Mt. Kilimanjaro, including those who join me on my annual Mwalimu Nyerere/ Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb.

Andrea Wobmann joined me on last year's Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb. We reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, on the morning of 26th September 2011. The updated list is now:1. Markus Geiger
2. Notburga Maskini
3. Gerald Hando
4. Le Huyhn
5. Jaffar Amin
6. Mary Kalikawe
7. William Rutta
8. Steve Kamau
9. Jim Becket
10. Andrea WobmannSent from Samsung Mobile

Friday, 30 March 2012

Chief Nyerere Burito's 70th death anniversary

Today is the 70th death anniversary of the death of Chief Nyerere Burito who ruled between 1912 and 1942.
Chief Nyerere Burito, center, with one of his 22 wives on his right and a guard on his left.
He was the leader for the Zanaki of Butiama during German and British colonial rule.

He is the father of Tanzania's founding president, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Mwalimu's mother, Christina Mgaya wa Nyang'ombe was the fifth of Chief Nyerere Burito's 22 wives.

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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My version of the year 2011 in review: 10 January

Continuing with my tour of Kagera region I visited Nyakijoga in Misenyi District where a church leaves the view of having been carved from a hillside.

The church is built on a spring water source whose water is believed to possess healing qualities.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

My version of the year 2011 in review: 8 January

William Rutta, steps away after shaking hands with the newlyweds
Earlier in the day my former school mate, now Mrs. Dorothy Hope Katanga, picked me up at a hotel with her husband, Aseri Katanga and they gave me a tour of some of the educational and charity projects they have sponsored in Kagera region.

In the evening they asked me to accompany them to a wedding at Maruku where I was pleasantly surprised to meet William Rutta among the invitees.

I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with William in 2010.

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Monday, 26 March 2012

Visitors to Butiama

The minister signs the guest book at the Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Library
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, David Mathayo David, visited Butiama recently.

He was an a working tour of Mara region. I had the privilege of leading him and his delegation on a tour of the residence of the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, including a visit to Mwalimu's mausoleum and library.

Sunset at Butiama

Another fabulous sunset from Butiama.

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Butiama's petrol station

Butiama has only one filling station, but it runs out of fuel every now and then.

When that happens we fall back on Mama Anje's petrol shop where the unit of distribution is a 5-litre container at shs.2,500 a litre.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

My version of the year 2011 in review: 1 January

Here's my version of events and images from 2011.

January 1, 2011

At four minutes after midnight Daileti Babwetega, right, raised a bottle of soft drink to wish Emmanuel Kiondo, left, a prosperous New Year at the Makuti Bar in Butiama. The celebrations continued into the early hours of the morning.

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 15 of 15)

Wednesday 5 October 2011
I decided time is too short before the next onslaught on Mt. Kilimanjaro in December so I decided to resume my preparations and exercising.

My mountain bike, without the chain.

I decided to ride the 8-kilometre trail to Mwibanza farm and, lo and behold, the mountain bike gear settings I have used in the past suddenly became unfamiliar. The upshot is my conditioning is way above my average because of my recent climb.

I am toying with the idea of following a continuous exercise plan, Kilimanjaro or not.
On my way back, before reaching Butiama Secondary School, I snapped the bicycle chain and walked the rest of the way home.

Egumba dance group in action

The Egumba dance group entertained the visiting Canadian teachers from Queen's University at Butiama yesterday.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Big mountain, giant plants

Some of the plants on Mt. Kilimanjaro come in mountainous proportions. One of these is the dendrosenecio kilimanjari, a giant groundsel.

The Barranco valley on the approach to the Barranco camp from the Lava Tower has a large collection of these giant plants.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Letter from Butiama: First class passenger protocol*

One interesting aspect of living at Butiama is the variety of visitors that one gets to meet. Butiama's visitors are from all walks of life. Among these is former Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania H.E. Keintaro Sato. When he visited Butiama in 2001, a short time before he completed his tour of duty in 2002, he narrated his first experiences of Tanzania.

He recalled having taken a flight from London to Dar-es-salaam to take up his post as Japan’s envoy to Tanzania. On that flight, in the first class cabin, he recalls noticing a graying man who was seated slightly in front of him and was immersed in a large book and kept reading during most of the flight.

The only time his fellow passenger would break from his reading would be when he was solving crossword puzzles from a book of crossword puzzles. The ambassador, pushed by his diplomatic instincts was keen to strike a conversation with the passenger, to break the boredom of the lengthy flight to Dar-es-salaam. Initially, he assumed the fellow passenger to be a university professor.

As he pondered how to approach this man, he noticed that, occasionally, someone would emerge from the back of the plane to find out whether the “professor” had any particular need. Maybe he was not a professor, the ambassador thought, but he had to be someone important if every now and then someone came in to check if everything was all right.

He finally gathered enough courage and moved to the seat next to his fellow first class passenger. As one would expect of a diplomat, he had no problem striking a conversation, which went on for several minutes before the probing began.

Ambassador: Are you a politician?
Passenger: I used to be a politician.
Ambassador: And now what do you do?
Passenger: I am a farmer.
Ambassador: A farmer? What crops do you cultivate?
Passenger: Maize and beans.
Ambassador: Are you a commercial farmer?
Passenger: No.
Ambassador: Do you earn a profit from your farming?
Passenger: Very little.
Ambassador: So why do you continue farming?
Passenger: I do it as a hobby.

The ambassador, who also served as Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe before moving to Tanzania, then describes how having talked for some time, began to recall having seen the face of the mystery passenger in photographs on some of Zimbabwe’s newspapers. He was still unsure of who this person could be and, more likely than not, he knew enough about diplomacy and first class passenger protocol not to ask too direct questions.

The combination of the frequent appearance of the person from the back of the plane, the responses he was getting, and a lot of thinking convinced the ambassador that he was sitting next to someone important. But who was he? The curiosity was getting on his nerves, so he started asking some investigative questions.

“Have you ever visited Japan?”
“Yes, I have”.
“Have you had occasion to meet the Emperor of Japan?”
“Yes, a number of times. In fact, I had dinner with him last year.”

With that last question, the ambassador said, he had confirmed what he wanted to know. He explains that he concluded that the man he first assumed to be a university professor had to be Julius Nyerere. Not every first class passenger anywhere gets to meet the Emperor of Japan. Yet, despite his certainty he did not have the courage to ask. And Mwalimu Nyerere said little more than was necessary to answer the ambassador’s questions.

The next morning, as they were disembarking from the plane Ambassador Sato introduced himself to Mwalimu Nyerere as Japan’s new envoy to Tanzania and asked for an appointment with Mwalimu to deliver a personal message from the Emperor of Japan.

When the Ambassador recounted this incident he said it was the first time he was telling it to Tanzanians. He felt it was just too embarrassing that the Japanese Ambassador should not immediately recognize the first president of Tanzania. During that encounter, Mwalimu Nyerere had retired as president and was chairman of the South Centre.

Ambassador Sato said he intended to recount the incident to members of the press during his last press conference before completing his tour of duty. I have been trying, without success, to contact Ambassador Sato to find out how his last press conference as Japanese Ambassador went.

*First published in the Sunday News on 5th February 2006

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 14 of 15)

Wednesday 28th September 2011
This post is not strictly related to the Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb 2011.

The deputy chairperson of Sungu Secondary School, Fr. Ewald Kinyaia, invited Jaffar Amin and I to attend the school's Form Four graduation ceremony.

Part of the graduating class.
When the guests were introduced and my name was mentioned, there was a roar of applause from the guests and graduating students. I suspected that after Jaffar Idi Amin's introduction there would be even louder applause. I was right.

Fifteen minutes after we were introduced someone must have approached the MC and asked: "Did you say 'Idi Amin Dada?'" because the MC announced: "Just in case you did not understand. We have among our guests the son of Idi Amin Dada, and the son of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere."

Fr. Ewald Kinyaia, right.
When given the opportunity to say a few words, I raised two points. First, I said to the students: "I have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro four times. This is our mountain. If you get the opportunity, climb it. There are far more foreigners climbing this mountain than Tanzanians. Second, don't fight a war that you did not start. This is the lesson that Jaffar and I bring to you. You would remember that Uganda and Tanzania fought a war between 1978 and 1980. But that was in the past. My advice to you is to look at the present and the future."

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 13 of 15)

Tuesday 27th September 2011
On a cloudless morning Millennium High Camp offers one of the best views of Kibo from the lower slopes. The porters and guides sang the Kilimanjaro farewell songs and we departed for the 8-hour trek past Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate.

The porters and guides sing the Kilimanjaro farewell songs
On the way I met two female porters who, after some persuasion by Yahoo, agreed to pose for my camera.

The female porters, a rare encounter on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The forest section was not only traversed by beautiful people, but was also peppered with beautiful flowers.
August, Andrea, Zulfa, and Steve walked ahead with Innocent and Ludovick, the assistant guides, and had to wait for our arrival for more than two hours. They did not sign in their names until we arrived and I became the first one to sign and eligible for the honour of buying drinks for the whole group, which I did at Springlands Hotel.

Someone called the ambulance, again. Apparently, one of us could not walk for an additional hour to Mweka Gate.
Yahoo said Jim Becket, 74, was the oldest person he had guided to Africa's rooftop, Uhuru Peak, at 5,895m above sea level.

Everyone agreed that Yahoo's guiding skills was the crucial factor in enabling the entire group to reach the peak. He was the group's 4-wheel drive.

Next: At the graduation

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 12 of 15)

Monday 26th September 2011
The entire group of climbers heading to the summit was quite large, probably as much as 100 if you add those joining from the Coca-Cola route. At times we had 'traffic jams', slowing down to a standstill. That has been a problem that I have yet to find a solution for. My heart cannot effectively handle the pressure of the frequent stoppages and the resumption of walking at high altitudes. My legs, thanks to the cycling exercise, are coping extremely well.

At a certain point during the night trek Jim Whitney, the cameraman and co-filmmaker, was behind me and when I asked him whether he wanted to walk ahead said he would remain behind because he preferred my pace. A few minutes later, when the group ahead stopped for a rest I sneaked through and walked ahead with Pantaleo, the cook with whom I camped at the Crater Camp on my first climb in 2008. Yahoo had asked Pantaleo to accompany us as one of the assistant guides.

I thought we made good progress through the night but the trek to Stella Point was not as smooth as I would have imagined. It wasn't extremely cold; I did not even wear the heavy pair of gloves.

Although ahead with Pantaleo, the rest of the group was not far behind and our arrival at Stella Point was separated, at most, by ten minutes. I am getting old.

Jim Whitney who walked ahead to film the group's arrival at Stella Point was surprised to see me and said: "How did this happen?" The only person missing was Zulfa who I learnt had remained behind with Yahoo, but was still very much in the running.
"How did this happen?" At Stella Point, Jim Whitney, right, films the approaching group.
A panoramic view from Stella Point.
Andrea is a force of nature. She does not appear to lack energy at any moment and has maintained both a physical and mental vitality that is rare among first-time climbers. When most people seem to be gasping for oxygen you will hear her humming some Swiss ballad.
At the summit.

I thank Pantaleo, right, for leading me to the summit.
The trek back to Barafu Camp remains, to me, physically painful. I have yet to find a technique for descending effortlessly on a fine soft sand surface. I prefer rough rocky terrain.

Next: Two women guides

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Monday, 12 March 2012

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 11 of 15)

Sunday 25th September 2011
I have noted that the trek between Karanga and Barafu Camp is when I discover my physical strength. I feel pretty strong.

On the way to Barafu Yahoo, extreme left, watches over the group during a short break as a porter, right, walks past
During last night's briefing Yahoo, the lead guide, said he noted that we are all in pretty good shape and, with the pace he has set, he is certain will will all reach the peak. I wasn't convinced.

The rangers' hut at Barafu, Mt. Kilimanjaro's base camp.
I had planned with yahoo that we should leave Barafu Camp for the summit at thirty minutes past eleven, but we left well after midnight.

Next: Andrea is a force of nature

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The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2011 (post 10 of 15)

Saturday 24th September 2011
Innocent, the young assistant guide. appeared to me to be more interested in maintaining his "cool" demeanour - he has a preference for using the word "cool" in conversation - than in doing his work.
Morning at Barranco camp, before departing for Karanga Camp.
I pointed out at the bottom of the 'breakfast climb', the steep climb of the day from Barranco Camp towards Karanga, that one of the guides should stay close behind Jim Becket in case he needed support through the difficult sections. Innocent would do so for a while but he frequently had to be reminded by Hamisi, the other assistant guide with whom we climbed together during my first Kilimanjaro climb in 2007 - or by Yahoo.
On arrival at Karanga Camp we caught a glimpse of Kibo peak.
Yahoo's professionalism came out clearly today, particularly by the gentle pace he forced on the entire group, having taken the lead from Hamisi, who led us yesterday.

Next: I feel pretty strong

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Sunday, 11 March 2012

The challenge

In late January I was in Morogoro to attend a non-title professional boxing match between Francis Cheka and Karama Nyilawila. Cheka won the match on points.

As I waited for the preliminary bouts to begin, the challenge in my mind was focused on the Uluguru Mountains in the background.

My interest in climbing mountains is not restricted to Mt. Kilimanjaro only. I kept mentally charting routes on the mountains and wondering how a climber could get to the peak. And where was the peak?

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Letter from Butiama: Science and scientists

Sometimes I feel the pair comprising science and scientists is similar to an imagined joint venture between the KGB and the CIA, whose agents I believe at one time were the World's leading gatherers of information. For the latter pair, every piece of information sought had a purpose. For science, it is different.

Scientists are interested in the occurrence of natural regularities. So they investigate these regularities and tell each other and others who are interested, outlining the causes for these occurrences. As a group they have an appetite for understanding every phenomenon in the universe, seen and unseen. The curiosity is important, otherwise humans would still be afraid of venturing too far into the seas and oceans for fear of falling off at the edge of the horizon.

Arthur Koestler, in an article for Encyclopedia Britannica in 1989 wrote: "Spontaneous laughter is a motor reflex produced by the coordinated contraction of 15 facial muscles..." He was discussing the psychological and physiological factors which elicit laughter in humans.

I admit knowledge is important for the survival of humans, but the necessity to know how many muscles it takes to laugh sounds to me irrelevant.to man's survival and advancement. Surely, absorbing such information can be a potential cause for information overload for the average human. Not even computers, one of science's great inventions, have come close to dealing with information overload.

In some instances scientists seem to be so involved with what they do that they fail to provide a convincing link between their work and the 'real' world. These people are principally interested only in knowing why things happen and they leave to others to determine whether the discoveries have any useful application on Earth.

When the North American Space Agency (NASA) launched the New Horizons spacecraft on 19th January 2006 it was the beginning of a nine-year journey to the planet Pluto. Today* New Horizons is on its ninth day of a voyage, having already covered 12.6 million kilometres. At its launch, a man of science, leading a team of other men and women of science, explained the importance of the mission: "...scientists hope to look into the formation of the solar system, how the majority of it operates, and perhaps if the water and organic molecules ubiquitous on Earth and other inner planets might have originated in its vast gloomy reaches."

The launch of New Horizons. According to NASA the craft will make its closest Pluto approach in 1,219 days and 22 hours. [Photo: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Invariably the objective of these missions is to locate clues about the origin of the solar system. How will the discovery of the clues to the origins of the solar system help me make enough money this year to reduce a large component of my debts? It requires a long stretch of one's imagination to always find the link between science and the solution to our problems.

But to be fair to science and scientists, there is normally a long incubation period between discoveries made in science before those discoveries make a meaningful contribution to humanity. It is also not usually easy to predict where one discovery may lead to. Sometimes, a combination of discoveries leads to something that was unplanned. The roots of computer science can be traced to work carried out by scientific minds in the field of electrical engineering and mathematics.

A long period passed before some other people put together this invention with that discovery and assembled a computer. Today, computers are used widely in every conceivable sphere of human activity, from the creation of music to business logistics, from aerospace design to use in modern warfare, not to mention being extremely convenient to columnists who find reason to criticize the impractical minds of some scientists.

But I am yet to find reason in the discovery of the number of facial muscles the human being requires  to execute a serious laugh. What I might find extremely useful is the day science will enable people to transform an existing debt into a virtual debt at the press of a key on a computer keyboard.

*28th January 2006. This article was originally published on 29th January 2006 in the Sunday News.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Picking (cheap) locks

A few days ago I woke up at a hotel and could not find the key of the padlock to my luggage.

Having seen and studied a few tricks from spy movies over the years, I decided to pick my own lock. And it worked. With a few twists and turns applied to an office pin I was reunited with my clean clothes, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Under different circumstances I would blame the manufacturers of cheap padlocks for imparting a false sense of security to buyers and for simplifying the work of thieves. In reality, we are told importers make a deliberate choice of importing cheap products rather than offer higher priced and more secure alternatives.

For the moment I am not blaming anyone for manufacturing or importing cheap padlocks. The passage of time might change that. A week perhaps?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb (post 9 of 15)

Friday 23 September 2011
The trek from Shira 2 to Barranco Camp was interrupted by one interview with Jaffar in which, in response to a question, he said I am a celebrity journalist. When Jim Becket asked me to define one I said: "It is someone who has no formal training as a journalist but I happen to have a regular weekly column and when the stars are aligned favourably I manage to write some good articles."

We had a lunch stop just before reaching Lava Tower. It either rained or snowed most of the way.
The after-lunch smiles.
Snow at Lava Tower.
After lunch Steve Kamau began to bleed through the nose and I thought that was cause for serious concern. When we stopped for a short rest at Lava Tower, I sought Yahoo's assessment and he said they will monitor Steve's condition. If the condition worsens, he would have to descend. He did not bleed again.

At dinner, Innocent, one of the assistant guides, suggested to Steve that should the bleeding resume he should avoid blowing his nose but instead soak the flow with tissue.

Next: Yahoo, a true professional

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Thursday, 1 March 2012

My fictitious second wedding

It is interesting how easy it is to fabricate a lie using a photograph without even using Photoshop.

More than a decade ago I was best man at my cousin's wedding. As is custom with contemporary Tanzanian weddings, it is not only the bride and the bridegroom who step up to take a slice of the wedding cake; the maid of honour and the best man also have their turn at cutting the wedding cake.

The edited photo (below) showing me cutting the wedding cake with the maid of honor could easily pass off as a photograph of a bride and bridegroom.

The original unedited photo (below) reveals that the newly-weds were actually observing us a fews steps behind.

I am reminded of a photograph that appeared in some of Tanzania's Internet forums in which President Jakaya Kikwete was shown in the United States, on stage, with the American R&B vocal group, Boyz II Men. In the discussions President Kikwete was accused of traveling to the United States to attend the group's concert and wasting public funds. The truth, never revealed by the person who introduced the subject, was that the president had traveled to the United States for a meeting and the performance by Boyz II Men was concluded at the end of that meeting.

They had not lied about President Kikwete having attended a concert; they just did not bother to mention the meeting. The impact of excluding some information distorts the actual facts.