George of Witney, the winner of the Arusha National Park competition.
You may remember that, in the posting after I went to Arusha National Park, I set up a competition for under 12s asking for reasons why I didn't see any lions or elephants whilst there. The deadline for the competition is today, and I'm pleased to say that there's a winner! George, who is 10 and lives in Witney, Oxfordshire, made some very interesting comments, as he said:
"I think the answer is you only
see parts of the park from the track, and somewhere further in the park
there are lots of trees.
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
Since students have been here I’ve drifted into the pattern,
which is perfectly normal locally, of working on Saturday mornings. The problem here, though, is that this means
that I can’t easily go to banks and other shops which only operate during
normal working hours. So, with a pent up
list of things to do, I went to Dar on Saturday to sort a few things out.
Dar isn’t very large so it would have been possible to have
done the trip by foot. Trouble here is that walking in the tropical heat,
getting noticeably more sticky than when I arrived in early September, is fine
if the objective is to take a walk, not so good if you’re trying to do things
at the same time.
Students have now been with us for a couple of weeks, and i have to
say that working with them is fantastic. Mostly from Tanzania,
Kenya and Uganda, some of them travel for 50 hours by bus to get here - no air
conditioning or overnight stops in bed and breakfasts! Many of them
also leave families behind. Precise terms of their sponsorship vary,
certainly some are living on very small amounts of money. All of which
adds up to a huge commitment to the course and belief in what we have to
One of the amazing sights from the window of my living room is a great swarm of bats which appear at twilight. As I understand it, this is the best time for them to be eating mosquitos which also come out at that time. Please do leave a comment below to share any insights into the behaviour of bats which means that huge numbers can be seen for a short period of time and otherwise hardly at all.
Anyway, here are my attempts to photograph them:
If anything, even more remarkable is the short walk home from the office at twilight, they fly just above head height and can then be seen hanging upside down from trees.
These posts are a little out of order, this actually took place before my visit to Arusha National Park. I hope it's worth waiting for.
The conference which took me to Arusha was jointly hosted by the Inter Unversities Council of East Africa and the East Africa Business Commission, looking to bring business and Universities together. On the programme was indicated a 'guest of honour', with no indication who that was until the time came and it became apparent that it was the Vice President of Tanzania, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal.
Apologies to my regular readers for having got a bit behind with the blog - a combination of being busy and a less than 100% reliable Internet link, not to mention, electricity supply, has got in the way. So a bit of a backlog, but the one thing above all I want to write about is Arusha National Park. I was in Arusha, in the north of the country near Kilimanjaro, last week for a conference bringing Universities and business together, and decided to stay on for the weekend. A jolly good decision this turned out to be!
Three weeks since my last post so lots to report! The big thing is that I'm now in my own flat, still walking distance from work, 8th floor in an 11 floor apartment block. Great views from the windows:
Overall, it's great being here. En suite double spare bedroom for any visitors, back up electricity generator which is a big necessity here.
I am now the proud possessor of a Tanzanian driving licence, valid for three years. Have to say, it feels rather odd being accredited to do something which I haven't actually done at all yet - ie. drive on Tanzanian roads - and I'm looking forward to the challenge. However, a few things I've learnt as a passenger:
- you have right of way if you're in a bigger vehicle, can hold your nerve better, and are closer to the interchange, right of way has nothing to do with whether you're already on the road or coming onto it;
Good news: set foot in a Tanzanian school today. Bad news: I thought it was to observe some lessons, however, I wasn't expected - some consternation as to who it was I'd spoken to over the 'phone! - so I ended up making arrangements for next Tuesday. Subsequently exchanged text messages with the deputy head of mathematics who was extremely helpful, so pretty sure that will be OK.
Spending a fair bit of time reading round Tanzanian education in particular and East Africa - and the developing world - in general.