Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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30/12/12: Christmas in DSM and a 'winter' break in Zanzibar

Many people in East Africa live away from ‘home’.  It seems to me that this means two different things.  On the one hand, many people I’ve met at all points on the socio-economic scale leave immediate families as they work or study here in Dar Es Salaam.  But people with immediate families here often feel that ‘home’ is in a distant village where their forebears lived.  So, a large number of people leave the city for the Christmas period, making it appreciably quieter, with church attendance at little more than ½ of normal.  Of course, not a good time to be travelling unless essential, the roads for miles around getting very busy.

I decided to host an ‘at home’ on Christmas Eve for friends, largely from church and work, still here.  My kitchen was taken over by Emily, Hellen’s sister (Hellen currently in Malawi, see paragraph above!) and Emily’s friend Gloria.  Have to say, the job they did was quite extraoardinary, although a bit odd being banned from my own kitchen.  I did point out where the air conditioning was, but when I popped in the temperature would, quite literally, have been respectable in a sauna.  Alas, didn’t immediately succeed in finding employers for Emily and Gloria but will put the word around that there are two great housekeepers looking for jobs – if anybody reading is interested, do let me know, although the work will need to be reasonably local….
Christmas Day was spent with friends from work also here for the holiday, thank you for your company!
I decided to spend a few days in Zanzibar.  Quite amazing to be able to go 1.5 hours by ferry and be in a place where, starting from the UK, it would cost thousands of pounds to arrive.  Of course, mandatory to do the spice trail.  Here’s Ali Baba (Father Ali) sportingly allowing himself to become Ali Dada (Sister Ali) for the purpose of demonstrating nature’s very own lipstick, a relative of the lychee:


 Don’t think jackfruit is available in the UK, it’s about 30cm long and difficult to describe, you’ll have to come here and try it for yourself!


Did you know vanilla is a parasite?  Here it is growing merrily at the expense of the host tree:

And here’s what iodine looks like in its natural state:


Coconuts left to themselves don’t fall from their trees until they’re past their best for eating, so somebody has to go up to get them.  The following sequence of pictures gives some idea as to what’s involved.  I asked to see the risk assessment form, but they claimed not to understand me.


And finally, let’s play, “Make a total idiot out of the tourist”

A great afternoon, I have more pictures of things which I’ve now forgotten what they are, do ask for access to my Dropbox collection if you can help!
Friday morning went off to Prison Island, about 3miles off the Zanzibar coast.  It gets its name from a prison build in the nineteenth century by the British, although it was never used as such, instead becoming a quarantine hospital for ships arriving mostly from Asia.  This is the boat that got us there:

What I hadn’t realized until I got there is that it is home to a colony of giant tortoises.  Indigenous to the Seychelles, they were part of an exchange of gifts between Governors General in the early part of the twentieth century.  Difficult to take pictures which show just how big they are, thanks to Yusuf for help with the perspective:

Sorry, don't know what this cute fellow is, but he was with the giant tortoises:

On Saturday morning went on a walking tour of Stone Town (aka. Zanzibar City) with Hassan the guide.  One of many points of interest is the multiplicity of influences on Zanzibar over the centuries, not least the Arabic.  A key feature of architecture are the doors which get placed first, this is pretty typical of the type:

In the grounds of the Anglican Cathedral is the former slave market, including chambers no more than 1 metre from floor to ceiling in which 50 slaves were kept for 3 days before market - if they survived they were worth selling.  Difficult to see how 50 people could fit, only possible through being packed 'sardine style' as far as I could see.  In the grounds was a memorial to the slaves, which I thought was very moving:

And finally from Zanzibar, just love the local boat - would call this a junk, I think?

That's it for now, have a pent up post or two so I'll be back very shortly.  Thank you for reading, much appreciated!

2 Comments to 30/12/12: Christmas in DSM and a 'winter' break in Zanzibar:

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lisa and george on 01 January 2013 05:50
good to hear what your christmas was like,i wouldnt mind being banned from my kitchen on christmas day :) :) :) :) but it must be difficult for people to live far away from their loved ones while working or says he is lucky his school is near our home. george liked the photos of zanzibar,and says he cant believe the size of the was also very interested in the way the people have to climb tall trees to collect coconuts,and cant believe they do it without a safety harness.
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Geoff on 09 January 2013 09:39
Just finishing off the food left over from the Christmas party now! Yes, the tortoises are pretty amazing, and there are loads of them all together. Agree that climbing the coconut palms without some kind of harness is a bit dangerous, but that seems to be what people do!
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