Wednesday, October 31, 2012
For those who prefer more traditional forms of accommodation there are traditional mshonge (grass) huts that remind the visitor of the older bullding traditions of Kagera.
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Monday, October 29, 2012
Many years ago my friend and musician Abdul Salvador and his wife, Asha, visited Butiama and performed a number of live shows with their band, Hisia Sounds. They traveled from Dar es Salaam by bus through Arusha and Nairobi, Kenya, and re-entered Tanzania at the Sirari border post before arriving in Butiama, which is about two hours' drive from Sirari.
On their arrival in Butiama, I recall Salvador's comment, who was traveling to northern Tanzania for the first time: "Tanzania is a huge country. Imagine you have to travel through another country to reach parts of this country!"
Those were the days before the Government of Tanzania executed a decision to rebuild and improve the road from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, particularly the section between Singida and Mwanza. As a consequence bus operators introduced daily bus services between Dar and Mwanza and even up to Musoma. As a further consequence there is no bus company that serves the longer Dar - Nairobi - Musoma/Mwanza route.
|For this number, from left to right, the author of this blog, Evaristus Nchia (stage name, "Dokta Nchia"), Asha Sa;vador, and Abdul salvador.|
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They were winding up their tour of Mara region and were traveling from Musoma to Isenye on their way to Singida through the Serengeti National Park.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I visited the German city of Leipzig in November 2011 and my visit had a lot to do with Mt. Kilimanjaro. I visited Benjamin Leers and Maurice Housni with whom in December 2011 I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro while they filmed a documentary that is about to be released. To promote the climb and the documentary, we were interviewed at a radio station. Mt. Kilimanjaro was on the subject of most conversations during those few days I was in Leipzig.
|The monument at Marangu Gate on Mt. Kilimanjaro in honour of Hans Meyer.|
Meyer reached the summit with Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller. Their climbing team included nine porters, a cook, and a guide called Yohani Kinyala Lauwo (1871 - 1996). Lauwo is described in some literature as the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
|Next to Hans Meyer's monument at Marangu Gate is a monument that honours Yohani Kinyala Lauwo and his team of porters who accompanied Hans Meyer to Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit.|
Friday, October 26, 2012
It looks like a unitary flower but is actually a collection of flowers that are densely packed into a bulb that opens up at a certain stage of its maturity.
|An 'open' Protea kilimanjaro plant on the Lemosho route of Mt. Kilimanjaro.|
At maturity the flowers dry and open up and the lifeless form appears to have been burnt by a bush fire.
I was surprised nevertheless while seeking information on the Protea kilimanjaro that the little information available includes an entry in the Wikipedia which describes the Protea kilimanjaro as found "...in the chaparral zone of Mt. Kenya National Park." Without any mention of Mt. Kilimanjaro? Makes you go: "mmmhhhh."
Just in case it is still not clear: Mt. Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Akamwani is made from Robusta coffee beans and is served to the visitor immediately after the exchange of greetings. Robusta coffee beans are smaller compared to Arabica coffee beans.
When coffee is almost mature but is still green in color it is harvested and washed, and mixed with special herbs to augment its aroma. The mixing of these herbs is known in the Haya dialect as akachumba mwani. The mix is then boiled in a pot for about eight hours and then dried in the shade.
Akamwani was traditionally used in various social events, such as during ceremonies for joining two friends in a covenant that transforms their friendship into a family bond, or at the conclusion of a mourning period.
Both the outer shell and the bean itself can be eaten although I found it easier to chew the relatively softer bean.
Traditionally it was taboo for children and those living with their parents to eat akamwani. Children were warned that if they ate the snack their parents would die. The more probable reason for this taboo is that because coffee induces insomnia it would prevent children from sleeping and also prevent their parents from freely engaging in acts whose effect was to produce more offspring.
The traditional Haya house, or mshonge, consisted of a single thatched-roof round building with a single entrance, a central cooking space, and various sleeping compartments made of straw or wicker partitions for the parents and female children. The male children slept in the open spaces around the mshonge.
Parents seeking privacy in the mshonge could only get that privacy when the children were asleep.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
On the ocassion today of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's 13th death anniversary, I share a few thoughts on Tanzania's founding president, a leader who has not olny left a lasting impression on Tanzania's political landscape but has captivated the attention of admirers and detractors beyond Tanzania.
“There are many good and honest people who believe that those ideas, which in this country are associated with my name are now dead and should be properly buried. You will not be surprised to hear that I disagree! Great ideas do not die so easily; they continue nagging and every human society in history ignores them at its own peril. And I can say this without inhibition or pretended modesty because in a very real sense they are not my ideas. I never invented them. I am simply a believer, like many other believers, in the world and in human history. I believe in the equality and dignity of all human beings, and the duty to serve, their well-being as well as their freedom in a peaceful and co-operative society. I am an ardent believer in the freedom and welfare of the individual. As I speak to you now I am asserting my own individuality, in a sense of community and fellowship with all other human beings wherever they may be. “Binadamu wote ni ndugu zangu”. That was not something that was said lightly. It came from a firm and profound belief in the nature and dignity of the Animal called the Human Being. I repeat: those ideas are not mine; but I am a believer. I have articulated them and will continue to articulate them with passion.”
One cannot distinguish the person, from his personal philosophy, and from his lifestyle because he practiced what he believed in; he did not preach moral principles on the podium and practice the opposite in his private life. There was little to differentiate between Mwalimu, the leader, and the person. The two were fused into one character and that character was founded on his personal beliefs and philosophy.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
It happened again during my recent climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I have for my past six climbs climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho route where only tented accommodation is available on the trek. This time I used the Marangu route, which is unique for its scenic landscape and stunning views of both Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. The Marangu route offers accommodation only in shared log cabins. I have never shared tents on my Lemosho climbs and for a good reason; the privacy of one’s tent provides flexibility to the climber, from changing dirty clothing to staying away from the noise of a snoring neighbour. As one climber mentioned recently: “If a snorer sleeps before you you’ll have great difficulty falling asleep.” Sleep is most essential in recovering from the daily hikes from one camp to another.
|Mawenzi peak as seen on the Marangu route.|
So, I found myself sharing a cabin with four other European climbers who had absolutely no self-restraint in how much foul air they allowed into the atmosphere. I am not sure about how much they contributed to Global Warming, but I admit I was uncomfortable. For Tanzanians it is taboo for grown-ups to break wind in the presence of others. If an adult does so accidentally and a child happens to be nearby the child will be blamed for the act and scolded for such unbecoming behaviour.
I understand from my experience in Italy that, from the perspective of some cultures, it is acceptable behavior. But I suspect there are certain circumstances that may limit this behaviour. I cannot imagine that at a summit of G-7 leaders discussing the limiting of carbon emissions that you’ll have the same VIP delegates, heads of state and government of the world’s seven leading economies, liberally firing off some of the same gases that they are trying to limit.
The Tanzanian Tourist Board issues tips to foreign visitors on acceptable practices that conform with Tanzanian cultural norms. I wonder whether it is time now to caution visitors against restraining themselves - at least while in the cramped logged cabins on the Marangu route.
Friday, October 5, 2012
As the sun rises over the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, we are minutes from docking at Bukoba port after an overnight cruise from Mwanza.
Experts predict that if current environmental negative practices by humans living around Lake Vitoria remain unchecked, the lake will dry up in the future.
The irony is that future travelers between Mwanza and Bukoba might have the option of driving to and fro on a dry lake bed.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
About two weeks ago a Tanzanian cabinet minister during a visit to one of Tanzania's ports was reported to have issued a directive to the port manager on an operations issue.
I understand ministers should only meddle in policy matters, not on day-to-day management of the public corporations under their ministries.
The lie that a political appointee is an expert on all matters under the jurisdiction of his/her ministry and is able to dispense, off the cuff, valuable advice and rulings is an impediment to placing responsibility on the experts and management teams tasked with implementing the ministry's projects and programs.
It's about time Tanzania's political cadre shuts up and allow the experts to work and earn their pay.
Policy formulation will then get the attention it deserves. And the politicians will also deservedly begin to earn their pay instead in poking their noses in other people's work.
The bonus to taxpayers is less travel by politicians and some savings on government expenditure.