My last stop in Tanzania was to be Tanga, some 7 hours by bus from Dar es-Salaam. Getting closer to the equator, I still want to enjoy some tropical beach settings, I therefore decided to skip Mombasa for some of its nearby beaches. Unfortunately, my camera stopped working when I got to Diani Beach, hence there are only some mediocre pics from my smartphone (which doesn’t have a good camera).
It didn’t make sense to be in Dar and not to make the crossing to Zanzibar, one of my favourite places in Africa. After the intensive travelling of the last few weeks, I felt like actually going on holidays. This time round, I arrived late at the ferry and was told “no more economy tickets” ($30), only V.I.P. ($50). I said I don’t believe it (rumours have it they try to sell V.I.P. tickets to foreigners), and stubborn as I can be I kept waiting by the counter. After some 20 minutes the lady offered me business class, and I agreed to pay the slightly more expensive $35 for the crossing. Once there, I ran into a taxi driver I knew, and Idri recognized me immediately. He proved to be very helpful. I hadn’t booked anything, which can be a bit tricky in high season, but my familiar Rumaisa hotel proved to be a good choice again. I got a discount (despite high season), and even my old room. Later that night, Adam, the barkeeper of the Livingstone, would come to me immediately, saying “Welcome back”… It’s amazing, I’m travelling now as if Africa were my backyard.
Its original name was bwaga moyo ‘lay down/rest your heart’, until German colonial troops invaded the East-African coast, allegedly unable to pronounce it properly. Thus it was distorted to its current form. Bagamoyo stands testimony, albeit in ruins, to centuries of global trade along the Swahili coast, with connections to Mombasa, Mogadishu, the Arabic peninsula, Persia and ultimately to China.
Arriving at my hotel (Iris, in Livingstone/Kariakoo) at 4 a.m after two and a half days on the Tazara train, I slept for the better part of the day. Apart from that, my third time in Dar started as joyfully as the previous two (see here). I went out, happily strolling around some darkish streets, asking taxi drivers about the best place for dinner, and was rewarded with Rissa BBQ. Once again, I was full of joy watching local guests in colourful East African, Swahili or business attire, of Arab, Indian, African or mixed descent, all speaking kiSwahili with one another. As the head waiter greeted me warmly, I realized that I’ve encountered different forms of kindness on this journey. His was a very delightful, subtle one, tinged perhaps by his apparent Arabic background. He suggested I have red-snapper skewers and bread, and it was yummy. Two guys joined me at my table, and we had a great conversation about African-European matters. I love this place and its people!
A real treat for the traveller – a train ride with the Tazara, all the way from Kapiri Mposhi near the Copperbelt in central Zambia to Dar es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean. All the way, meaning every single one of the 1,860 kilometres, at an average speed of ca 30 km/h – I’m not kidding you. The time table and hearsay suggest it can be faster, but not in my experience. It’s a two-and-a-half day journey, in a four-berth first-class compartment (2nd class has six, 3rd class is seats only, and it gets really crammed once you’ve reached Mbeya near the Malawian border).
I finally made it! After a number of years during which I considered going, now Zanzibar was just around the corner – relatively speaking. It’s three-and-a-half hours flight to Dar es-Salaam, then two hours ferry, plus the odd transfer to airports and so on. Still, it was my big opportunity, and quite in line with the past few months during which music had been a dominating theme: Sauti za Busara, “Sounds of Wisdom” – African music under African skies!
And whatever effort it took, it was well worth it. Sauti za Busara is perhaps the best festival on this continent (“African music under African skies!”). It certainly beats Lake of Stars (Malawi) in its choice of more traditional music, or music which makes more use of traditional elements. And it focuses on East Africa. Or as one website puts it, Sauti celebrates Africa’s DNA. Let me illustrate this.
Here’s the ground I’ve covered over the past four months (straight lines = flights) – and so much space left untouched! Roughly: 1 month Uganda, around 2 weeks each in Rwanda, Tanzania & Zanzibar, and Malawi, 1 month in Zambia … and already 2 weeks in South Africa 😉
Everywhere I have travelled in Sub-Saharan Africa, the picture is the same: women busy themselves, day in, day out, to do most of the work, chores and otherwise. I may exaggerate, though honestly, I don’t think I do when I say that Africa is run by women, especially in those fields that are run efficiently. This, obviously, excludes politics and a lot of admin. There you have it, I’m happy to stand accused of exaggeration and over-generalization, because I want to make a point. I do not care much for explanations that include the word “culturally”, I just share observations. Cultural practice, in my view, is a choice, and no explanation or excuse for anything.
Rachel, house help at Redrocks Camp (Nyakinama near Musanze aka Ruhengeri, Rwanda)
When I realized that entering Tanzania overland from Rwanda was going to be difficult, amongst other things because visas are not issued at the border, and also considering the size of the country and costs involved in entering the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, I decided to deviate from my plan, took a flight to Dar es-Salaam and cut my stay short. After all, I wanted to attend a festival in Malawi in early November, and it felt like I’m running out of time. Seriously? Anyway, my plans changed, I planned on two weeks only in Tanzania. Air Rwanda was as impressive as Rwanda itself, and the flight was truly pleasant. On that note, I’ve come to love the airport announcement tinched in heavy Bantu r/l-mixups that wish you a “prresent frright” instead of a “pleasant flight”, that’s what it sounds like anyway.