Tanzania: Friday night at the hospital

aga khanIt all started innocently enough. On Thursday evening the whole team had a lavish dinner at one of Dar es Salaam’s fanciest hotels. I’d never seen that much food in my life. And everything was a delight. I filled my plate with rainbow-coloured vegetables and stir fried seafood. Unable to decide, I went for it all in the drinks section: coconut juice, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and white wine. I’m not proud of this (as a vegetarian), but I even had a bite of excellent succulent lamb from the barbecue. And then I sampled at least five kinds of different desserts. I wasn’t alone in this, all my colleagues enjoyed a similar feast. We all went to sleep full and content. 

Continue reading

Tanzania: The times they are a-changing in a Maasai village

boys woodI’m planning to get married next year – says Joseph. – I haven’t found the right girl yet, but I’m sure I will. My parents had an arranged marriage, but I can choose who to marry myself. 

We are standing on top of a steep hill, looking down on the Ng’iresi village about an hour away from Arusha. Looking ahead, we can see the peak of Mount Meru. Joseph says that on a good day you can see Kilimanjaro.

Continue reading

Zanzibar: where 1% meets 99%


The ferry from Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, to the archipelago of Zanzibar takes about 2 hours. We choose this mode of transportation over the plane, which is only 15 minutes, but doesn’t allow the pleasure of a slow reflective journey. As non residents we pay 40 USD each for the ferry ticket and we categorically refuse to be ripped off by the ticket officer who sneakily adds 5 USD to each fare.

Continue reading

Tanzania: from field to fork – the journey of food


The prestigious Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) is located in a small town of Morogoro, in the agricultural region approximately 200 km west of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. That’s where I spend a week in late March running a workshop and visiting project partners. 

One fine morning I look out of the window of my hotel at the misty Uluguru mountains that the Morogoro area is famous for and that’s when it hits me: I’m visiting a university of agriculture based in the middle of Tanzania’s main food growing region, I work on an agricultural research programme, and yet my practical knowledge of the subject matter is limited to growing carrots in my back garden. 

Continue reading