Tanzanian Culture

Iringa Town Center (1) IRINGA (113) IRINGA (109) Iringa Town Center (8)Tanzanians, like the rest of us, seemed to be defined by their genetic disposition and their resulting inherent cultural practices.

All of our experience indicates that The Tanzanian Culture is a warm,   people- oriented one. Walking  down any  street we are greeted with Jambos ,Keribus,  (welcome) or hello(an accommodation to our language) by the majority of passersby. Even babies, of whom there appear to be droves, traditionally bundled on their mothers’ backs, often struggle to clear their maternal shoulders to make eye contact and extend a smile. Toddlers tripping along at their mothers knee and school children, dressed in uniform, travelling in packs, do likewise. Their greetings are not just reserved for Wagusi like us; we notice that they greet everybody, whether they know them or not,  in their paths. Acquaintances, both men and women, often stop to embrace or shake hands.  School aged girls wave as they walk hand in hand.

A friend of ours, who has come here for many years to work with at risk youth, likes to say to his Tanzanian friends,”Do not let the world tell you that you are poor;   you are not poor, you have community. “It is not hard to see his point. It is obvious Tanzanians are visibly quite gregarious and very connected; they work together;  they play together; they celebrate together and they grieve together.

It is interesting to witness communal aspect of their marketplace. Adjacent to the tarp cover area that houses a massive number of fruit, vegetable, and fish vendors are streets lined with hundreds of small, single proprietor shops. They fall into about a dozen categories: grocery, tailoring, electronics, hardware, barber- beauty, clothing, stationary goods, telephone vouchers, banks and a few others. All offer approximately the same inventory, at the same pricing. It is clear that these stores, which are the basis of the Iringa economy, do not have owners who think like the US magnate of Retail, Steve Walton.  Au contraire, there seems to be no effort join together to undercut the competition or even an indication that the neighboring establishments are considered in terms of competition. Rarely if ever, for instance, have we witnessed a display of displeasure when a shopper leaves one place to buy at another.

Iringa Town Center (36) Iringa Town Center (18) Iringa Town Center (17) Iringa Town Center (14)
“Hairy” Potter Barber Shop

"Hairy" Potter Barber Shop

Store inventory is remarkably limited compared to goods available in The US. We have stopped talking about what is not available to the more efficient listing of what is available. It seems that the merchants are content

Iringa Town Center (20)

Iringa Town Center (21)

Iringa Town Center (30)

The Major Supermarket

to do business as usual rather than incented to discover new opportunities of import or manufacture to entice greater consumer spending. If a new product does appear, all sellers are likely to stock it. Some Tanzanians I have spoken to attribute this lack of entrepreneurial ingenuity to a desire to spare any activity which might imperil the financial stability of the family; others see it as a manifestation of group think and an innate urge to stay in sync. Wherever it comes from, it translates into a low key shopping experience with polite interchange with owner and often a fun interaction with younger family members who seem ever present.

  Tanzanians also express in  dress their social consciousness. The women wear colorful Katanga, tailored in different styles, frequently complemented by matching head pieces. The men are neat in their Western garb.  The children reflect their parents’ style wearing cute Western style outfits during the week and usually looking very special on Sundays at church. In the latter environment, it is hard to keep eyes off them. The girls wear special laces, and the boys are in small suits .The majority of children    draw attention by smiling, playing peek a boo, reaching out to touch and in general doing everything possible to endanger a poor penitent like myself to lose my soul in adoration of these local idols. They are, I think, by anyone’s standards, one cute bunch. In fact, the only time, it seems they do not smile is when I take their pictures. It seems an interesting, cultural practice that Tanzanians who always seem to be smiling, do not show teeth (make no mistake; their teeth tend to be beautiful) for the camera, and it is further interesting to see how young that habit starts.

If we witness communal activity in the marketplace and dressing habits, the church congregations and rituals like weddings and funerals are the blatant definition of it. Religious services are packed on Sundays; the men sit on one side with their comrades; the women on the other with the children. People greet each other cheerfully at the beginning of the Service.  At the mass we frequently attend, there is a woman with apparent mental health issues, who accompanies the choral group by standing in the aisle, blowing a whistle and using hand signals to direct the choir. She appears quite happy in her role, and we are impressed at the apparent tolerant acceptance of her presence with no attempts to remove her. After mass, the parking lot remains full with people visiting with each other and children playing.


IRINGA (104)Blog Church AttendeesOne well dressed Church goerBlog babyBlog Church AttendeeIMG_2090

Weddings and funerals are widely attended and considered real focal points of life here. Two funerals have engaged our attention of late. One, here in Iringa, held our emotions as well. Our friend, Miraji’s  young sister of 31 yrs died shortly before we arrived. Her name was Happy, which those who knew her are quick to point out was a very appropriate appellation. Miraji and his family asked us to dinner one afternoon to meet dine and watch the video of Happy’s internment. The format of the funeral was the customary one. People gather for a meal, the choral group sings lending an almost anesthetizing cadence in the background for this segment as well as all other parts of the Service. We watched as throngs of people came through the cafeteria style dining line. After a good hour of this activity, I asked our host about just how many guests were in attendance; he reported quite credibly that the count was over a thousand.  The recording followed a number of them through the reception line, onto the cemetery, through the viewing of the corpse, the blessings and homilies and the final internment. The ritual was obviously meaningful, beautiful and consoling to the participants, especially to Miraji’s mother who visibly was reaping additional solace viewing this filmed reenactment. We, too, could feel the healing power exuding from the response and the warmth of the community.

Vinginotti (6)

Marji’s Mother

Vinginotti (2)

The other funeral was for The Minister of Finance, age 63. Ten thousand mourners, including The President and Prime Minister and all Cabinet Members came through Iringa to attend the internment in the proximate village of his growing up. One notable detail that caught our attention was the non politic decision of the RC Bishop from our church, who was scheduled to preside over this high profile event, at the last  minute, to defer so that he could  officiate at a mass for his resident parish priest who had died suddenly.

While I have not attended a wedding, Stan and others attest to the number and genuine emotional expression of the guests to be remarkable and the music as always, mesmerizing.

Living here, I am often reminded of the emails in our country touting the virtues of the nineteen –fifties; practices and attitudes can seem reminiscent of policies prevalent during that period.

The elderly are clearly revered and deferred to.  In fact, while one’s parent is still alive, no major decision can be made without his/her or their consent.

Fathers are the revered head of the home. Children are obedient and never sass. Teachers reign in the classroom.  We have also learned and can see that the children belong to The Village and accept admonishment from any nearby adult in terms of commands  like “ stop fighting,” “ get to school”, “ look both ways before crossing”   and extend to conducting  oneself properly in all areas of deportment. Adults take the responsibility seriously: Motorists will stop, and Merchants will emerge from business when they deem it necessary to effectively issue these warnings.

Women are required to wear skirts and covered arms in the workplace.

Tanzanians still drop in to say hello, a custom, once prevalent, but now less practiced in the US. We have a number of Tanzanian friends so we experience and tend to enjoy this kind of impromptu visitation.

Politeness is a most valued ethos.

The friend, whom I quoted above, has another epithet that he shares with his local friends here. “Poverty”, he says, “is a state of mind.” Again, it is not hard to agree when you witness a populace getting along on little exuding such happy dispositions. However, I would add a caveat. Poverty is also a state of health. There are health issues here which are taking a serious toll and are causing senseless tragedies with far reaching effects like leaving children without parents. My student of English and good friend, Dr Corrado,MD  and others make us aware of the issues which I will share with you in the next post. A number of NGOs, Global Outreach included, are here to help in their own specific way to improve systems to address this critical area and do so in a way that is least disruptive to the identity and charismatic culture of the people they are attempting to serve.




Some of you have asked for an update on Winnie’s situation. Last week Winnie’s request was rejected. Reason given was that the letter of permission was missing from her file. Winnie was incensed because she knew that she had submitted it. To make a long story short, she received permission to leave her post, take the 8 hr bus trip here, pick up Rahma and go to Dodomo. There she held her ground until admitted to the Director of Education. The Director was quite taken with Rahma, held her through the interview and has promised to help Win. Winn got back on the bus at 2PM ; the bus became  stuck in the mud delaying arrival home until 7AM . Tonight she had a call that her house at her teaching assignment had been broken into an robbed. We are agreed that this has not been her quarter but are optimistic that she made great inroads toward getting her transfer. Will keep you posted.

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Some Interesting People


One of the more  interesting aspects of life here is the meeting people from multinational backgrounds and hearing extra ordinary stories of their relocation to Africa.

A number of them emit from a Fellowship gathering which we attend twice a month.  It is composed mostly of families who have come to do Evangelistic work combined with implementation of   projects designed to advance the living convenience of local people.  This Sunday was no exception. I met and spoke with a woman from North Carolina who looked every bit, the Southern Belle. She and her husband and their four children, ages 2 to 13, had moved to Iringa five months ago and will be here another month learning Swahili. They will then move on to Mombasa where her husband will consult with small businesses to get them up and running, and in her words, “will stay until the Good Lord directs them otherwise.” Warm and friendly in her demeanor, her sense of well being radiated. When I asked her how the children were adjusting, she said that they had some problem with their thirteen year old daughter, (can you imagine?), but that had passed and that the three boys were fine with it from the beginning.

Another couple haled from Oregon. They too were in Iringa to learn the language. The wife, 68, told me that from age ten, she has wanted to be a missionary. Her first husband died young, and her second husband said he had no interest. When she was in her early sixties, she was working to put her desire away when her husband announced that in fact, he wanted to do something significant with this part of his life. For the past five years, through their church, they have been working with two other couples, one via internet connection, to design a water project to bring and install in a remote village here. These six will live together there for three years. She talked about how difficult it was to raise the money which they had to do on their own.   She spoke of deprivation of leaving eight grand children for that extended period. She confided that the greatest hardship so far was that her mother passed away this week, and she could not go back for the funeral. (Our Oregon connection and Stan’s mother’s death in the same timeframe seemed a little unreal, and I must say  that I felt my credibility might have come under suspicion as I moved from pointing out how much we had in common from a geographical standpoint to our similarity of circumstance in parental loss). Facing  these obstacles apparently  did nothing to dampen the  joy and satisfaction that she and her husband were exuding as they explained their mission and their thrill in being on their way to accomplishing it.

Over the weekend, I went to the home of another member family of the Fellowship for a toy sale put on by two little girls preparing to move with their parents to the shores of Lake Victoria to work with the local population. The mother, who with her husband, is from Canada, presented their plans, to evangelize and promote the implementation of wood stoves to replace the prevalent use of open fires which have been causing debilitating accidents.  She was most positive and cheerful in tone, and the girls were obviously having a great time conducting the sale and looking forward to the move.

I could go on at great length with many more of these stories, like the Danish couple who have come with two young children, he to lead a team of Nationals into the Bush to work with Nomad tribes, she to teach in a local school; or the English couple with three children under six, all born in this country, here to evangelize and do social work; and many more, but I think you get the idea without my belaboring with detail. What does stand out is that these people feel “called’ and are finding their work fulfilling. They exude competence, confidence, contentment, courage and look like aware, caring parents as evinced by their happy, energetic children. The men appear robust, the women, pretty, and all are easy to talk with; they are committed, but not preachy. If there are others, like those portrayed frequently in fiction and popular stereotype, who have come preaching the same message but with a more self serving agendas, I can first hand observe, that these do not count amongst their ranks. I am mesmerized by these people, especially the younger ones, because they are choosing to live a life so different from the one we chose at their age, with so much less infrastructure and creature comforts, but apparently, with no less joy or satisfaction.

While two of the encounters I describe are with people from North America, the greater majority seem to be from Scandinavia and The UK; I deduce that their home country culture and/or proximity to this continent have something to do with that, or it may be that it is people from those countries who attend the Fellowship; I will share on that score as our future experiences reveal.

Of course, not all the ExPats are here to evangelize. Other circumstances of the how, when and why some of them immigrated can be fascinating and point to a different, but no less impressive call. Take for instance, Elizabeth Phillips. She came, without relatives , at age 13,in 1940,  on a ship populated by children being sent out of London in order to  avoid the WWII bombings wracking the city at that time. The ship



took unusually long time, six weeks to make the voyage because of frequent re routings needed to avoid German warships. Her destination was determined by the presence of a grandfather and uncles in Africa. She bravely adapted to her new environment developing a love of the terrain with its wide open spaces and proliferation of vegetation,   flora and animal life. That love motivated her at 17, to pursue a degree in the study agriculture. Because the public schools would not accept girls, she sought out and found a private school that would. Her initiative and success in the effort might give an indication of the character traits that eventually determined her life achievement.

She graduated, found work in the field, and married.  Her husband died after six years of marriage leaving her with two young children to support. Subsequently, she remarried; the couple settled in Iringa because of the availability of reasonably priced land. Purchasing several hundred acres to endeavor to develop a dairy farm, they started with a few Ayershire bovines, a breed which will eat leaves off trees if grass is in short supply, a necessary precaution due to the area’s not uncommon droughts. Through hard work and knowledge of inbreeding, they grew exponentially the number of their stock.

Today, Kibebe, its known name, has several hundred cows, as well as herds of sheep and a


Several hundred cows

corral of horses. Its complexity makes a Ranch with a working dairy farm and slaughter house seem a more appropriate descriptor. Fortunately, they offer a tender option to local  beef  which often chews literally like a rubber ball and lamb which , for the most part, is otherwise unavailable.

The employed staff is sizeable.  Many live proximate to the grounds, their numerous homes visible as you drive up the approach road. Work opportunities like these are a



welcome circumstance for the local population.

The building in which the family first made its home was a tobacco curing facility, modified into a residence by the previous owner. Two houses have been added since. One is for the family of son and daughter in law, Richard and Victoria, who now manage all operations, and the other, for guests.

Elizabeth’s children whom we know have apparently inherited her initiative. Besides managing Kibebe, her son, Richard started The International School which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary of serving families of both Western and African roots. Additionally, he has established a language/safari  camp giving opportunity for a six week, live in, immersion course in Swahili designed for people who are coming to the Country for an extended period of time and need facility in the language to be effective. Her daughter in Law, Victoria provides for therapeutic horseback

Victoria and Stan

Victoria and Stan

riding for children with developmental disabilities and is involved in a myriad of other community building activities. .

Together, they open their grounds every week offering a volleyball game for participating, spectating or just socializing. They also organize and host dinners on special occasions,

Volley Ball Game

Volley Ball Game

like the  one we attended on Boxing Day, a traditional British holiday celebrated the day after Christmas. The use of their spectacular setting, for which I will attempt description below to bring people together is an uncontested boon for area residents.

About six years ago, Elizabeth’s husband died; two years ago she lost a son to cancer. She has suffered with their loss as you might envision, but the determination in her gait and the joie le vie in her eye evince that she is not defeated.  Her pioneer spirit brings to mind this Edward Lee Master verse:

What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

Kibebe is scenically nestled in hills surrounded by mountains and is rife with interesting trees and flowering bushes displaying blossoms of   vibrant  global travel experience to see it, he termed “it world class property”, a description that has resonated with us on every subsequent visit. If the pictures below do not capture that level of beauty, rest assured that the fault lies with the photography.

PS Please do not conclude from this post that we have been involved with the  western population. Next blog will be about our Tanzanian connections. Amongst other scenarios, I hope by then to be able to tell you about Winnie’s placement for next year. If you remember, we think it is imperative for her to be located in Iringa so that she can get services for her two year old daughter with CP.

Cows at Rest

Cows at Rest

Nested in mountains

Nested in mountains

Rustic Setting

Rustic Setting

Flowering  bush

Flowering bush

Horse Corral

Horse Corral

Flowering bush

Flowering bush

Interesting trees and bushes abound

Interesting trees and bushes abound

Victoria and Richard's house

Victoria and Richard’s house

Elizabeth's house
Elizabeth’s house
Guest house

Guest house

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Happy New Year!!

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Passing of a Great Lady

We had some sad news a few days after Xmas. Stan’s mother, Constance, Aka Connie, 95,

Connie with grandson, Tim, 2006

Connie with grandson, Tim, 2006

passed away on Dec 27.  We will miss her . When it came to living, she was a tour de force. She leaves in her wake  an indelible memory for her family. Gone but surely not forgotten. Death was in the end a blessing. She was physically  pretty down and out. We and she knew that our time with her this summer would be the last. We said our goodbyes, and knowing that we would be in Africa , she  insisted that we not attempt  to attend her funeral. We po pooed the notion, though in our hearts, we knew.

Happily our phone service has improved significantly, at least at this time, so communication with the family has been and continues to be fluid and frequent All feel she is in a better place. The funeral, January 2, will be a Celebration of her Life. We will cheer from here. Mary and Tim will attend.

Constance Conrad Muessle was born in Louisville, Kentucky on May 23, 1919. She and her husband, Stan, moved to Oregon in 1945 joining her mother and father, Anna and Henry Conrad, and her sister and brother-in-law, Mary Jane and John Dietrich, in the formation of a family business, Conrad Veneers, located in Tualatin.
Ever an active member of the community, Connie saw her first priority as the nurturance of her family and the support of their education. She was mother of five, grandmother of eleven and great grandmother of sixteen.
Her significant volunteer work included teaching Christian doctrine at the parishes of St. Cecilia’s of Beaverton and at St. John Fisher of Portland. She was a founding member of St. John Fisher and an active member in the parish. Subsequently she volunteered for eleven years at Jesuit High School, organizing and directing the alumni association. She also volunteered for several years as a tax counselor for AARP.
She was a former member of the Multnomah Athletic Club and the Portland Gold Club. She lived in southwest Portland for many years before moving to Mary’s Woods in Lake Oswego in 2001.
Connie was predeceased by her husband, Stanley Peter Muessle. She is survived, by her children Stan (Elizabeth), John, Constance (Dick), David (Megan) and Brian, eleven grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren and her sister, Mary Jane Dietrich.
Mass of Christian burial will be held on Thursday, January 2 at 11:00 AM at the Chapel of the Holy Names, 17400 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, Oregon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests remembrances to be sent to Global Outreach, 7326 Windemere Lane Sarasota, FL 34201

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Christmas in Iringa

Dear Friends,

Christmastide  turned out to be  a several tier event with each layer adding to our emergence into the spirit of the holiday, diverting feelings of aloneness and deprivation that can hover over travelers during the season where at  home or   with kith and kin seems the right place.

Two Nights Before:

We attended a Fellowship caroling event followed by a potluck dinner .It was interesting to note that while our group was made up of several nationalities, English, Danish, South African and a few Americans, the carols were, for the most part ,the traditional ones that we are used to singing.  We enjoyed  watching  the  endearing Danish tradition of lighting candles by the children to symbolize the light that the Christmas child brought to the world.

Danish Carol Lighting Tradition

Danish Carol Lighting Tradition

Many of the  people at the dinner following shared  descriptions of their reasons and logistics for  relocation to Tanzania   adding  to the stories of other expatriates which we have been gathering as we go. Some of these I would like to share with you in another blog entry. Suffice it to observe at present that their presence here adds an interesting dimension to an already remarkable homeland culture.

The Night Before :

We had a welcome taste of American our roots and a number of laughs with a Lutheran Minister, his wife and their extended family who arrived in time to celebrate the holiday. The group is a for real, an American, stereotypical,  eclectic one,  comprised of  the Minister and his wife from Mn , their daughter and son in law and three children, and the son in law’s parents from NJ. Happily the Minister and his wife will be staying on for four months, living in the unit below us. The others leave in two weeks after a three day safari.

We joined them for dinner at The Lutheran Center, which is close to our apartment building. Everyone had something interesting or humorous to share. Gary, the minister and his wife Carol, talked about their involvement in Tanzanian life. Their daughter, Jennifer,  told us about a number of their American friends doing creative work in Africa. One example that caught our imagination was a young couple coming to form an NGO dedicated  to raising awareness of the  Masaii regarding  how their practice of  killing lions in revenge for attacks on their livestock may damage the local economy by diminishing the tourist trade as well as endanger   the cycle of nature by significantly interrupting it..

Mike, the son in law, a graduate of Notre Dame  and a portfolio manger gave us some inside scoop on The Fighting Irish , (he had been the team manager during his student years during Lou Holtz’s time), and some US business perspective.

His mother told a funny story about being on a tour with a group led by a religious denomination whose name I remember not. The tour director asked her about her origins. She replied that she was Irish Catholic from NJ. Later he introduced her as Jewish from NY. That made us all chuckle as we, like the tour director, could intuit the connection.

His father, who is Italian, entertained us with recounting of a recent incident in which  one of  the youngsters from the extended family called him to ask if he would go beat up some kids that were harassing him at school, implying that the youngster’s visual impression of him evoked images from The Sopranos.

The two pre teen boys could be spotted wrestling at every presenting opportunity while the little girl stayed sweetly on her mother’s lap.

Ah, how sweet the sights and sounds of home when far from its shores. Vive la American habits and diversity!!

Christmas Day: A Tanzanian Church Experience:

Blog Altar

We attended a traditional Christmas  mass at the Catholic Cathedral. The Bishop was the Presider, assisted by two priests, six altar boys and several nuns. The altar and crèche were most attractive in their Blog Crecheseasonal adornments, and the Choir was mesmerizing in their rendition of Tanzanian hymns and traditional Christmas music.

Hearing Hark The Herald Angel Sing, Come let us Adore him, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and others interlaced with the rhythm of African drumbeat  captivated us so that the three hours we were there seemed not one minute too long .

Blog Choir

The Church was packed as it is every Sunday at every mass giving us the impression that unlike in the US and Europe, church attendance ,by both genders,  is not on the wane. One has to be careful not to be seriously distracted from the service by the beauty of the African garb on both women and children. 

One well dressed Church goer

One well dressed Church goer



Tanzanians celebrate Noel as they do other holidays; they get together with family and friends to enjoy food, camaraderie,  and relaxation. There a few decorations at home and gift giving is not largely practiced.

We were treated to a typical yuletide experience  later in the day by our Tanzanian family, our grandson, Crispin’s father, brothers, sister and her two children. They provided a delicious spread which I picture below with the dish covers on because I foolishly  did not take one with them off. (I entertain delusions of  getting  better).The fish, chicken, chips, rice , vegetables and fruit  were expertly prepared and competed most favorably with any meal we have had here to date.

Like in many homes across The Country, the kids played quietly while adult conversation turned  to  familial, country, cultural, worldly happenings and concerns  making  the time fly and leaving  the desire for more when the day was  over.  For our part, we introduced the kids to Santa, and they liked him.

On a personal note, Crispin wrote an email message greeting to our gathering. . It and his good news that he had made the Dean’s list this first semester at Bucknell was much appreciated  and applauded by all.

Hope your day, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, was merry as well.

Pictures below show Grayson opening his gift, one little party goer, Rahma, getting a bath to prepare for the event,Tom holding Rahma with Venance looking on , Winnie and Rahim at table, and our delicious feast.

Grayson reading note from Santa

Grayson reading note from Santa

Rahma getting ready to party.

Rahma getting ready to party.

Tom, 10 with Rahma, 2

Tom, 10 with Rahma, 2 and Venance

Winnie with Rahim, 2

Winnie with Rahim, 2

Our delicious meal

Our delicious meal

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We have arrived At Tanzania

December, 2013, A Running Dialogue of our first week.
We have arrived!! Well part way anyhow. 36 hours from Mary’s house to our hotel in Country should have brought us close.
Our departure was a bit intense. After a lovely family gathering for Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, we returned to MD for a Friday departure of 6PM. We received a call at 8:30AM advising us that our flight had been cancelled and asking if we could we make it to the airport by 10 AM for another. With Mary to the rescue and a half an hour of an activity reminiscent of supermarket sweep, we made it.
Our trip was long but had some perks. The service on the flights was gracious and relatively speaking , tasty ;we were able to use the Delta lounges as Stan’s mileage had just reached the limit to permit it; I may never have to consider a facelift as having your knees pressing upwards on your jaws that long may have the same beneficiary effect.

Cannot complain about our accommodations here. We spent first two nights at a beach resort on Indian Ocean. While not the Caribbean, it is rustic and picturesque. We are now at a hotel more downtown; it is a charming AFRICAplace with a great pool made affordable by Stan’s connection with Rotary.

Tomorrow we charge on (well, take our newly purchased car to the road and hope for no break downs) to Iringa and our new life.


From the moment of deplaning and being with the Tanzanian people, it becomes clear that the effort is worth it.

Miss you Hope you are in full swing with the holidays.

Thursday, Dec 5, 2013

Our trip to Iringa was lengthy, sorely lacking the amenities of the air travel mentioned above, but quite scenic and from several aspects, quite educational.

Our driver, Mohammed, is an old friend whom we met in the late nineties when we were visiting Mary. He is an expert driver, critical AFRICA (2)since we encountered a number of accidents along the way including an overturned oil rig which would have presented a very long delay without his expertise at traffic negotiation. Even with it, our three hundred and sixty mile trek took 11 hours.

The number of cars and trucks coming and going from Dar es Salaam is astronomical. Our driver explained that the trucks are mainly importing products and moving them through the Country. He did not have an explanation for the plethora of automobiles which would seem to speak to a booming economy which is surely not the case.

Once out of the city area, our drive was through brush peppered with small villages consisting of scattered huts and sometimes marked by roadside displays of baskets for sale. The realization that the majority of these villagers will live their entire lives in the remoteness of the area is rather startling.???????????????
I asked Mohammed about schools. He said that they are strategically located throughout the countryside with students commonly walking seven or eight miles each way to attend. I guess one might observe that, obesity and computer addiction that we hear so much about in our Country are not problems for the children of The Bush.

Youngsters living in these environs often find occupation approaching slowing cars to sell AFRICA (8)farm produce, our driver informed us, as we stopped to see their offerings. We bought mangos pineapples and cashews, a few items of their standard fare which included many other fruits, vegetables and nuts. .

The scenery took our mind off the length of the trip providing sights of various interesting looking trees against a magnificent backdrop of rock formation and mountain range. We were even treated to a sample of the animals for which this Country is so well known. Romping impalas and a sauntering giraffe appeared long enough to delight us and whet our taste for more.

One of the most lasting impressions occurred close to sunset when we saw the classic figures of African women,
returning home from their day’s occupation, wearing colorful Katangas with matching head wraps, balancing baskets on their heads or baubling babies in carriers on their backs, silhouetted in the changing sky.

We arrived at our flat about 7:30PM and found it quite spacious and suitable.
And so our new life begins.

Friday, Dec 6,

After unpacking, we meet Marian, the woman who will be our housekeeper and laundress for three days a week. Of course, it is love at first sight only enhanced by her typically charming personality. She will also boil the water that we must use for everything. This empathic warning reminds me of how easy for one like myself who is often thinking of other things to inadvertently seek self destruction by carelessly taking a drink, washing a vegetable or imbibing a drip from an ill dampened toothbrush.

The highlight of the day is spending time with Grayson and Winnie, who are Crispin’s siblings, and our other “adopted” grandchildren. After Grayson graduated from university, he did an internship with Global Outreach at Stan’s bequest. At its completion, the GO staff decided to offer him a permanent position. No surprise there. Grayson is a bright, articulately bilingual, personable and competent young man.

It was quite a treat to get to spend time with him and hear his observations about his Country, his work and his life.

Winnie came over later. She fits all the personal adjectives which I above ascribe to Grayson. She is a mother of two year old twins, a healthy boy and girl who was born with cerebral Palsy. She is also a university educated secondary school teacher. She is encountering special challenges from each of these roles arising from aspects of Tanzanian culture and practices.????????????????

Upon graduation last year, Winnie’s first assignment, like the majority of new teachers, was in a remote area like the ones I described above. She is lucky because her locale meets the status of town which means, unlike many of her fellow teachers, she is in a place with electricity and running water.

Her classes have ninety- six students. She is supposed to be teaching in English because the in Country Education policy is that all subjects in Secondary school are to be taught in that language. The students’ native tongues are Kiswahili and their tribal language. Making the transition to English is the academic death for most, especially in the more remote area like the one where she is posted.

Win and Gray were given a significant advantage by our daughter, Mary, who sponsored them in The Iringa International School for three years of middle school. They entered secondary fluent in English and were therefore able to focus on class content while most of their peer s were in a struggle trying to learn the new language of the classroom.

Winnie is frustrated in her teaching location on two scores. She does not feel she is reaching her students both because of their lack of language and worldly awareness. More significantly, she is also six hours RT from the physical therapy which her child with CP critically needs. Being Winnie, she is not willing to go with the flow. She very early started the application process to be transferred here to Iringa where she can have Rahma back in therapy, receive family support, and reap the benefit of working in the more sophisticated environment of the city schools.

Even though she has submitted all paper work and related documents, Winnie is not content to let the process play out. She has a fear of Tanzanian Bureaucracy developed over the years of watching and experiencing the actions of that august body. Knowing that the Unit that makes the decisions on transfers only meets once a year and that if for some administrative oversight her dossier is not in place for the review, she will be without recourse for another year, she decided last week to take advantage of the present holiday school break and arranged passage on the four hour bus trip to the Dodoma , the seat of the Government . Her mission was to determine if her documents had made the agenda. She was prepared to confront all and any to discover who could give her this information.

En route she met with a not atypical TZ road experience. Her bus’s steering wheel locked causing the vehicle to turn over and spill the passengers out. Happily, and rather miraculously considering this picture, she made it out alive. Now back home after this 1466216_10201861417250549_1390088510_ndisconcerting experience, she must decide whether to take her life in her hands to make the 8 hr RT trek or just wait to hear from the authorities. The stakes seem high when you are in the presence of this bright young lady who is feeling very stressed about letting her daughter veg in a village and who can hardly bear the thought of another year of seemingly not making a difference in her profession.

Winnie gets an A for effort in trying to buck the system (or lack of said). We are just glad she survived the road trip, as I must note, we were glad we survived ours as well. TZ Government should put out the TZ Surgeon General’s warning: Driving or riding in a vehicle especially on highways is a major danger to your health.

Saturday, Dec 7,

Daily living here will have its challenges, but one could never claim a lack of color. Today I followed this man and ensemble to market. (Can you see from the picture the goats he is herding along?) The market is a collection of stalls selling vegetables, fruits, rice and spice, not unlike US Farmers’ Markets but eternally more bustling and more space compacted in ??????????????order that the entire facility can be covered by a large tarp. A major section is devoted to fish which your nose would tell you better than your eyes as these critters from the sea do not meet the Western image of that category. Tanzanians procure much of their protein from beans which might seem a wise choice to the Western shopper as he considers the animal alternatives for sale. Chicken comes the closest to our eating habits, and even it is a stretch. The fruits and vegetables are, however, fresh and favorable and the other, well, we are learning and experimenting and eating out a lot. Happily we both like Indian curries and cuisine. which are a prominent item of fare at the local restaurants.AFRICA (9)

Once we figure out how to work the facsimile of an oven and find a way of dissecting the chicken without using herculean extremes, I am sure we will survive.

That is if we remember how to install our mosquito nets at night. If one doesn’t do that, the results are malaria threatening bites. I will not post a picture of some of those but unfortunately, could. The way Malaria is passed is that if the mosquito bites someone with Malaria and then bites you, you get Malaria. Travelling with the right mosquitoes is therefore important because relying on the inexact science of the net installation and maintenance is tenuous at best. I am planning soon to go to one of the town sewing booths to have a body suits made for us for sleeping; am also considering cloth helmets with netted faces. Upon completion, I will be sure to attach a photo of us retiring probably looking like UFOs. Who knows, maybe we will scare the mosquitoes away!
Sunday, Dec 8

Sunday Is a day at Church, but one could observe, not the only day of attendance at religious services, planned or not. Opening a window at 6 AM or after is to hear the singing or oration of a service taking place somewhere within earshot. Most of these events are taking place at various abundant Evangelistic congregations and at the mosques during morning and evening prayer time. Once you experience an early morning here, you could not say people of different faiths are not regularly praying together, inadvertent as it might be.

In terms of formal religions, Iringa is a very Ecumenical community. There are sizeable Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Orthodox and Muslim followings with services at churches and mosques. We have not found a Synagogue yet but am sure that we will.

We attended the Catholic Cathedral this Sunday. The mass differs from the ones in the States in terms of length and ceremony. Here the priest is assisted by six altar servers, all in colorful, formal vestments. During the Consecration and other strategic parts of the Service, both priest and servers freely dispense incense while simultaneously ringing altar bells. The TZ choir renders hymns throughout. The quality of the music added to the visual spectacle of the ritual make the hour and forty five minutes seem shorter than its reality. The discipline comes in sitting still through a half an hour homily in Swahili.

This week additionally we will attend a gathering with people from other Churches. It will be our first opportunity to meet other Wazungu (white foreigners). It is a small group, and it will be nice to meet other Westerners especially given the impending holiday.

This Sunday, we did attend a Craft Fair at The Danish School. Yes, I did say “we”; Africa has its magic) and saw some European/Americans there, but they were mainly working the booths affording no opportunity to meet. We did enjoy the event. The crafts were creative and lovely, and the sausages that they were serving were delicious. That was a treat because their providers sell some meat, and we can order through them. While not extensive in selection, for sure a step in the right direction.

Monday, Dec 9

Today was a day that brought with it the warmth of friendship that is often missing in a move. It was a holiday so many of our Tanzania friends took the opportunity to stop by to wish us Karibu , aka welcome. Two of them, Miraji and Lucas, lived with us for a number of weeks in The States. It was wonderful to catch up with them.
This evening, we went to dinner with another Tanzanian friend, Angelina, who spent a few days with us in Florida in May. Stan has always referred to her as his African wife because he has boarded with her on a number of his stays, and she has always been most IMG_1787supportive of his endeavors. This picture of her in FL makes me happy because we are seeing Angelina, at the same time, sad because we miss our dear Doris and all of you, our dear friends.

Tuesday, Dec 10

Isn’t wonderful when serendipity meets opportunity to produce a means of meeting a high priority? Today brought about one of those special, happy occasions. Here is a little background:

Before we left The States, I read in an email from the Iringa network which we had signed into that one of the doctors at a nearby hospital was looking for help perfecting English language skills. I responded that I would consider doing that if he was still looking when we arrived.

When we did arrive, Grayson and I were discussing the TZ health care system. He told me that there were no accessible MDs here but rather Medical Assistants with more limited training. While they handle most situations well, Winnie has really wanted to see a certified Pediatrician to evaluate Rahma.

To make a long story short, when the referring doctor called to set up a meeting time, he mentioned that his colleague, my potential student, was the only Pediatrician in the Iringa Area. While not completely without ulterior motive, I invited Winnie (and Rahma) to join us at our first meeting so that she could help with translation if needed. My intention was to tell the doctor when the subject of remuneration came up that I would settle for an evaluation of Rahma and a promise that he would keep her on his radar for finding resources for her.

As it turns out, both doctors (MDS) came, and both are from Milan, Italy. They are with an NGO (non profit) Doctors With Africa. They agreed to my proposition and gave her an immediate evaluation of Rahma. Since that time they have called Winnie with suggestions and have given her referral to a therapy group their Organization runs. Dr Carrado, my student, has also written a letter to the government urging them to place Winnie in Iringa for Rahma’s access to treatment.

If all of that was not good enough, Dr. C has also offered to cook for us! How fun is that. Now let’s hope that I can figure out how to teach English as a second language. (ESL). Anyone with materials to email would be most thanked. I do know I will have no problem teaching him phrases like veal parmesan, lasagna, Bolognaise and any suggestions you might have.

It was a big day on the home front as well. I found the manual for the stove/oven and actually roasted a chicken.

Later in the afternoon, I managed to survive a torrential downpour at the market ; it lasted about an hour and reminds us that we had better make hay while the sun shines as the rainy season is about to commence.

Wednesday, Dec 11

This is a day of catch up and reflection because it marks the end of our first week. Even with two toilets overflowing at the moment, I am aware that we are quite lucky because our house maid (a gem) and a plumber are taking care of the problem, (and the problem is mitigated by the industrial strength tile that provides the flooring throughout our spacious flat.)

I think we may be adjusting.

Iringa is a small place with few structured activities and less shopping, but as we all know, big things can happen in small places, a thought which seems timely as it is after all at the heart of the Christmas message.

The news from Global Outreach continues to inspire.

We will not be home for Christmas and will miss our kids:

Mary, Tim and Carolyn

Mary, Tim and Carolyn

Our Grandkids:



Freshman at northeastern


Freshman at Bucknell


And all of you. We wish you the happiest of holidays and a most prosperous New Year!!!

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