Category Archives: Africa

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Unravelling Tanzania

Reading Time: 4 minutes

After hearing the idea of cultural villages, and after visiting a couple-I was on the lookout for these when I arrived in Tanzania. Not having made friends with many Tanzanian’s in my life, I knew very little about Tanzanian culture. I was in lucky to find one online, however many of the uber drivers I came across had never heard of it and ended up being a very expensive journey to locate this ‘village’ but we eventually found it on Bagamoyo Street, Dar es Salaam. The cultural village highlighted some model homes and customs of a few of the different tribes of Tanzania.

I met the loveliest tour guide who was patient enough to go around the different model homes explaining to me interesting facts about each of the different tribes, their attributes and lifestyle. He also felt it very important to highlight how many cows each of the tribes paid for the bride price, not sure if that was a subtle sell to have in mind just in case I was pursued by some of the lovely Tanzanian gents.

The homes were very innovative, adjusting to the climate and lifestyle of the people who lived in them. For example, there was a tribe where people lived in their homes with their cows, and therefore the mudhouse was two story with a large open space on the ground and bedrooms on the top floor. Another where a compound was in place and the women stayed in the home and the boys moved out of the house at the age of 11 and they would become the protectors of the family. Or a tribe where the wife would go out and find a second wife for her husband-to prevent him going to do the same for himself (ok this has nothing to do with the way the house was built but I found that interesting and wanted to share).

The tour guide also explained some of the interactions between the tribes and the early colonisers which explained the social status of some tribes over others, with some prioritising being at one with nature, others money, others education and like every nation there was also a tribe that was well known for having lots of tricksters. Overall a very interesting and informative tour that ended with a group of colourfully dressed dancers showing us some of the traditional dances done at celebrations or for rain ceremonies. The energy possessed by these dances and the style was absolutely mind blowing. I was so not ready!

I apologise that I have no specific names of the different tribes as I lost my notebook and my ability to store that level of detail is minimal. I will do better. :-). But if you are in Tanzania and you have the chance, please do visit this village and support the work they are doing to showcase the history of this beautiful country.

 

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Unprepared for Tanzania

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Bag packed, passport in hand and patiently waiting my 2am flight to Tanzania from Bangkok Airport. This long awaited visit to the beautiful East African destination evoked a cocktail of emotions in me. The first was excitement-I was going to one of the main havens of beautiful multi coloured fabric, I imagined myself as a kid in a candy store marvelling at all the designs while my bank account limited how many I could keep. I looked forward to exploring the country’s creative scene, soaking in Tanzania’s hospitality, trying out new cuisines and getting lost in the city (well not literally…hopefully).

My excitement was however somewhat cautioned some online information I had seen earlier, about the hustle and risks of travelling solo in Africa. I had done the solo travel thing for a while, but not in Africa. The thought of being a black girl travelling alone in an African country where I couldn’t speak the local language made me anxious. I imagined a lot of annoyance or mistrust from people who tried to communicate with me to no avail (wild imagination on overdrive).

I was awestruck, flying over Tanzania’s capital, Dar es salaam. Such a breath taking sight where the earth emerges from the Indian Ocean, creating a beautiful vision of union whilst still allowing each to independently stand beautifully in its glory. My heart was taken, I smiled from the core and with this, the fear that had been bubbling up subsided, and gave way once again to a state of dreaminess and excitement.

Less than 15 minutes in Tanzania my excitement was subdued once more, this time by an official who asked about my yellow fever certificate. At that point, it seemed very likely my Tanzania trip would be cut shorter than I had anticipated. In my shoddy research about Tanzania, I learned that with my Zimbabwean passport there was no visa needed, and that is where I stopped (what more did I need to know???). Sadly, it turns out I should have known I needed to get a yellow fever jab. Of all of the things that were going on through my mind I decided, I had no desire to use the limited cash that I had on me to pay for a jab at the airport and therefore managed to negotiate my way through immigration without the certificate. Don’t judge me for not prioritising my health (which I do not advise-as I will later explain).

Relieved to have made to the other side, I was accosted by the heat which felt like it was coming straight from an open fire in close range. Fortunately for this solo traveller there was a shuttle service to pick me up from the hostel I was staying at so I did not have to dig out my very dodgy Swahili to negotiate cab rates.

 

Five minutes into the Dar es salaam  I realised that, there is something about African roads that just gives you an indication of where you are. The traffic was chaotic, the helmetless boda boda (motorbike) drivers weaved between cars so fast I had to hold my breath as they sometimes narrowly  missed the cars behind them, the dalla dalla (minibus) drivers owned the roads-squeezing into every gap that could be seen on the road, at times creating their own gaps through intimidation. What I had not seen in Africa before though were the tuk tuks (motor taxis) which they referred to asbajaji which seemed to be the only mode of transport on the road that tried to confine itself to lanes or reasonable speed. My driver decided that he was not too special to also follow the lead of some of the hectic matatu drivers which saw me hit my invisible emergency brakes a few times on the road. Inspite of all the road chaos, I caught glimpse of the activity in the streets, the bright coloured outfits everywhere, places I could later potentially get my hair done. This was looking like the unravelling of a promising adventure… to be continued

 

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Fun and Frolicking in Victoria Falls

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Nature lovers and adrenalin junkies alike flock the Victoria Falls every year to explore the town and its many offerings. On this occasion, we definitely fell into both camps.

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Slumbering and Partying-Victoria Falls

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When I first started looking at travelling to Victoria Falls I almost scratched it off the itinerary. A simple search for accommodation exposed a range of options that were waaay outside my budget. In discussions with a family member who has travelled extensively in the area, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the town also offered a variety of backpacker or budget friendly accommodation which was not marketed well online.

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In the Wild-Zimbabwean Edition

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Believe it or not, there are people who grew up on the motherland but have never set eyes on a wild animal. In Africa, they have urban and rural areas. Contrary to common belief, in urban areas there are generally no monkeys hanging on the ledges of buildings, elephants at every water fountain in the local parks or domesticated lions running around in people’s gardens for security purposes.

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