Archive for category Ramblings

Take it… to the limit…one more time

Hey everyone,

Long time no blog post from this dusty foot philosopher! I’d give you a list of half-decent excuses as long as you’d like but in the end none are really that valid so I won’t bother. But thank your lucky stars, I’m back for a quick post today. The topic? As the Eagles sang, pushing yourself to the limit.

In this case, we are talking specifically about taking your physical body to the limits and I have two fun updates from the past and near future!
1.) This past February I ran in the Kilimanjaro half-marathon and I’ve meant to post an update about that race since but never finished it- well, the update and photos are now posted below.
2.) This coming Sunday, August 4th I will be trying my luck at my first full olympic-distance triathlon in Watamu, Kenya with a group of friends!

The triathlon will be taking place the same time as the women’s Olympic triathlon in London so while your watching that you can laugh a my foolishness to take this on. The race I will be doing will be the same distances – that’s 1.5km open ocean swim, 40km bike ride, and a 10km run on the trails and the beach. Should be absolutely unenjoyable but I am aiming to finish in 3-3.5hrs! There is more information on the 2012 Wildman Kenya Triathlon race here.

Since we were taking on this big personal challenge we thought we could also use it as an opportunity to raise some funds to go to a good cause from family and friends back home who might be interested in supporting us. I’m not very good at this fundraising thing but since I have this blog available and some people who do check-in I thought I would put a quick post up about it to raise more awareness.

Our team chose to raise money for Saving Africa’s Nature (SANA)’s Bio Agriculture project as it was an issue close to many of our hears. This project is aimed at economically empowering the women of Matipwili village through transitioning to sustainable and organic agriculture which they will sell to the various tourist lodges and villages in the park. Matipwili village borders on Saadani National Park along the coast of Tanzania and this project aims to reduce the illegal hunting and de-forestation (for charcoal selling) that is happening across the country. Learn more about the project here!

No pressure at all, but if you are interested and financially able to donate – you can do so through this PayPal link (you can pay with any credit cards -just login as a guest) or by contacting me directly. I’m happy to put in the money now so that it can be donated to SANA and then collect from you at a future date when we see each other next! As a team of 7 we are aiming to raise upwards of $4,000 for this cause which should help to expand the project from its initial pilot phase to a full implementation. Any small amount helps so donate here!

Kilimanjaro Half Marathon

After wanting to do this race last year but all that resulted was months of talk with no actual training – I finally made it happen on February 26th 2012 and ran in the very fun Kilimanjaro Half Maration event in Moshi, TZ on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. A stormy and rain filled morning resulted in quite the adventure (18 wazungu hijacking a dalla-dalla to bring us to the stadium) to finally make it to the starting point when the road was too washed out and the bus got stuck.

Pre-Race: I watched a movie recently with the wise quip “you can’t win a marathon without putting bad-aids on your nipples”. I took this to heart and, trying to look like a professional with a chance of winning, bought Where’s Waldo band-aids for my nips. An informal pre-race survey found that most of my fellow runners did not take it that seriously.

Mid-Race Report: 10.5 km very uphill and then turn around and run back down. Kind of depressing cause in the end, after all that effort, you didn’t really feel like you’d gone anywhere…

Post-Race Report: Who knew running 21.1 kms up and down could be so much fun? Hint: Not my knees.

Good times though and hope to do a few more again in the future.

Editors Note: Dan has not put on his running shoes again since returning from this race at the end of February. That could be because they were stolen shortly after (add it to the list) or that’s just a convenient excuse.

Editors Note 2: This earlier Editors Note written in April is now out of date – thankfully he’s gone running at least a few times to train for this triathlon on the weekend. That said, since the good running shoes went missing he’ll be doing the tri in a pair of old basketball shoes – the experts unanimously agree that this is probably a good idea and will only help complete the ‘professional look’  that the swim suit and second-hand African market women’s bicycle he’ll be riding have begun. One word for you: intimidation.

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Home and Away: Losing direction of the home ice/pitch advantage

No, despite the title this is not really a post about sports. With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about sports.

The NHL season has started up again back in Canada and I am again faced with the fact that I care less and less about my favourite childhood hockey team – the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go Jets Go?  I am transitioning from being a fairly big NHL hockey fan (though I will always love the WJC, Olympics, and other major tournies) to being a football (soccer –henceforth called football – wow, see how legit I am??) fan. It’s one more sign of being at ‘home’ in a new place I guess. I have always been a footie fan since living in Northern Ireland in 2004 and deciding to make Liverpool my team but it’s a lot more difficult to be a serious fan in Canada. Matches start at 10am on Saturday morning (if you can find somewhere showing the game), little coverage in the press, and fewer people to talk about it with. Now it is reversed and I am completely surrounded by football over here – proper kick-off times, games on every TV in the bar, lots of press coverage, playing football on the weeknights, and the same thing everyone is talking about at work or in the streets the next day.

Appropriately for this, an unfortunately high percentage of my wardrobe here in Tanzania (I argue it’s the most comfortable thing you can wear in this humidity – but others may just see it as a weakness in fashion sense) is made up of football jerseys (Barcelona, Liverpool, Ghana, Bayern Munich, Argentina, Celtic, Toronto FC, Spain, Valhalla FC…). I guess this is all just adapting to one’s surroundings – that and it’s a pretty damn lonely hockey conversation in Dar es Salaam.

It’s been about 5 weeks now since I’ve been back in Tanzania. Did I tell you I was returning to Tanzania again? Yep, I’ve returned for Year 3 (standard entry-level CBA contract you know) – the last of the three original “Canadians”/musketeers left on this side of the equator. The first year was for the adventure, the second for good career move (and more of the first), the third is for a little of both of those…but let’s be honest, it’s mainly for the girl. Maybe this guy is finally getting his priorities straight??? ;) Looking forward to the year ahead!

Speaking of timelines, it has also been 3 months since last blog update which isn’t exactly keeping my promise in this post of doing a better job and promising exciting photos and stories (seriously though, the mountain gorilla one is pretty cool – you should probably harass me until I finally put it up). If it’s any consolation, most of my posts last year were about 30 minute reads and the size 3-5 regular blog posts – so if you average that out I didn’t do too bad…. The last weeks in Tanzania in August were hectic, the time spent back home sure felt hectic, and the first weeks here I have hardly hard time to sit and think let alone write (probably I just need to manage my time better…). But that is just how life is, busy, deadlines, other priorities, and time continues to fly on by.

There is also something to be said for things just becoming more “normal” after a few years and you find fewer reasons/inspirations to write about. We have two new Canadian interns here in the MEDA Tanzania office this year and I enjoy seeing them here and thinking back to my first months adjusting with eyes wide open and a zest for exploring anything and everything new.  In one of my very first posts on this blog I wrote of my experience in the first month that “the ordinary has just become extraordinary on a more regular basis”. I think that there was certainly some truth in this and perhaps I have just started to see things once again more through that ‘ordinary’ lens. A place like this can certainly offer plenty of the extraordinary but it can also wear you down fast until sometimes you just want to stay in on the long weekend and watch a complete HBO series on your laptop. At first I feel a bit sad when I think about that – but then again I think it is entirely normal. What can be a life-changing experience or a heart-stopping landscape for one is another person’s daily life or view from the backyard and it works both ways my friend. We all learn to get comfortable as natural coping mechanism and sometimes that even includes getting a little bit jaded with things and there is nothing wrong with that.

The original purpose of this blog post when I started writing it (only took me 791 words to get here) was to talk about the feeling and definition of what is “home” when you live abroad for a period of time. I found myself interchanging the two places defined as home quite a bit when I talked to people before, during and after my recent trip to Canada. Was it that I was returning home for a one month visit or was it that I would be returning back home to Tanzania after this short visit in Canada? From where I came or from where I currently am? I still don’t really have the answer. Maybe it is a bit too scary to call one place home and still know you will likely be moving on from it soon enough and might again become a stranger in a new place. You make many new friends and forge a new life while away but at the same time almost everyone still has the friends and ties from where they came. You need to try to make the place where you are now as much of a home as possible and I have been very fortunate in that regard – but of course all the while keeping close to your original home. The interesting part is when you feel comfortable and happy and yet not quite completely…for lack of a better term, at home when in either place but still somewhere in-between. For now, it can often feel as though I simultaneously have two homes – and at the very same time – not really one at all.

Cheers,

Dan

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Honey I Shrunk the Kids: Adventures in Macro-Photography

Yeah…that was a great movie. Except that the part where they got lost in the forest of giant grass blades known as their lawn and then were chased by the monster ants…and then the lawnmower!….that was all a bit scary. Now that that flashback is over..on to the real story of this blog post.

A Generator salesman’s paradise

Well, first one more quick tangent (I heart tangents and the use of parenthesis, as you will see in this proceeding awesome paragraph) as I sit here in a coffee shop and write this to the gentle hum of power generators. Tanzania is a great country with a lot of unrealized potential – and one of the things that is really holding it back at the moment is the power infrastructure. Since May the country has been regularly plunged into darkness as Tanesco (the state owned power company) makes increasingly regular power cuts as it cannot keep up with Tanzania’s modest demands (only 14% of the population is connected to the power grid). They blame it on the low water levels at the hydroelectric dams because of the East Africa drought (power cuts is a problem put in perspective of course next too the drought and famine currently occurring in our neighbors to the north) – but it really just comes down to poor planning/governance/corruption/accountability that have prevented the country from building the right infrastructure.

For the past few weeks it has been between 12-18 hours a day (you start to lose count sitting in dark) without electricity. As my place this year does not have a generator – I find myself pretty regularly reading my my cellphone light (can I use this lack of electricity as a good excuse for not updating this blog more often?). Anyways, with no rains in the weather report until September/October and the situation only getting worse (there are vicious rumours floating of 6 day a week total blackouts), the economy being seriously affected,  and things getting more heated politically – it will be an interesting time (you might even say dark times ahead) to see how the wananachi (citizens) react.

Macro-size your life

When back home last summer for my  break inbetween my two contracts here with MEDA Tanzania I bought a 100mm macro-lens for my camera. I  figured that if ever there was a good place to be for taking pictures of insects, flowers, odd bugs, and generally weird tiny things – Tanzania would be the place to do it.

How is this guy for creepy, crawly? While I haven’t made as much use of the lens as I might have liked due to its general heaviness and the not wanting to slow down travel companions with the extra-time and set-up that macro-photos can sometime take – Tanzania continues to provide plenty of ready and willing subjects

So – join me on a macro-photo tour of some of my favourite photos taken with this lens! Here – nice shades and the texture of the iron and wood help to show its age in this shot

Many of these photos were takenduring a weekend trip to the Amani Nature Reserve about 3 hours north of Dar es Salaam.   This area of the Eastern Usambara mountains is known as the “Galapagos islands” of bio-diversity in East Africa and offers rich rainforest environments full of weird and wonderful things.

Somewhere in the hills outside Amani Nature Reserve there is a butterfly sanctuary that supports some local families where you can come see a wide range of beautiful butterflies and in fact get remarkably close up as this guy let me do.

I liked this photo for the vibrant colours and also the nice shapes of the flower in a row going out of focus. I am definitely still learning to use take macro-photos and don’t really ever use a tripod which can be pretty key to getting steady pictures that are sharp in focus – but so far so good for the recreational use.

Almost stepped on this guy while hiking around – maybe you think he looks big here because of the macro-lens – but I assure you he was actually a pretty huge bug at least 2.5 inches long. Check out the red eyes!

Random shot here but thought it was a nice break from the flora and fauna. Soda bottles sitting in a basket offered some options for practicing with my new lens

This is a definite favourite shot of mine. The detail worked out pretty well so that you can see the pollen and the star-shaped yellow fits perfectly into the top-right corner of the picture and the pink and yellow just explode out from there.

Got pretty lucky that the shutter setting managed to nicely capture the motion of the wings while freezing the rest of the body so that you can see the nice wing colours.

So I am clearly not a botanist – and I have no idea what most of these flowers are called. I am trying to think of better word than just saying “flower” in every description but failing so far…

Aha! Bamboo – I know the name of something finally.The greens and yellows of the bamboo trunk made for some nice patterns and the tiny hairs on the trunk were also a cool focal point as well.

I really, really like this photo! It was taken in a restaurant garden in Burundi during a daytrip into the countryside.  The ‘flower’ buds are exploding out at you and about to burst!

Aha, Would you believe it? – I actually know a flower name shown here – the rare East African violet! I was lucky to find some in bloom when I went and they didn’t disappoint with their dark violet with flecks of silver shine colour. In fact, some flower enthusiasts come from across the world for special trips just to see this beauty in bloom.

Well, there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my Honey, I shrunk the kids inspired tour of this corner of the world through a macro-lens. There’s another whole world of detail down there – hope to have more to share with you another day!

Cheers,
Dan

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In case you were wondering…

I’m still alive…..Just have not been so good at updating the blog lately.

My apologies for that, I’ve consistently been breaking my goal to bi-weekly/monthly get some kind of an update on the site. It hasn’t been an issue of not having much to write about …there have been a number of amazing trips, dumb/entertaining stories, and even the rare insightful idea that pops into my head. I would regale you with tales and excuses of busy days at work, no power and internet at home, a healthy dose of travel keeping me away, and that lion which ate my laptop – but in the end I just haven’t been making the time. Never fear though, I don’t have any plans to let the site die a slow death of neglect and promise to get back on track. I can change baby, I swear, I’m a new man. Please just keep visiting my site to check-in, I promise things will be different if you just give me another chance.

So what can we expect to see?

Here’s a preview of  both what I’ve been up to since my last update in March and perhaps what you might see on the site soon!

Ethiopia!

Rwanda & Burundi

Roadtrips & Weekend Trips!

Nairobi, Kenya – Leaving tomorrow for a week of work in Dar es Salaam’s big sister city.


Point and Shoot

There have been a couple of cool developments these past months on the photography side of things as well. Some of the photos I took last year have gotten a bit of recognition which is always nice. Not that I want to make this all about me or anything – but every once and a while you gotta let the world know.

A photo I took in November 2009 while on a field visit in the Ruvuma region in southern Tanzania was selected to grace the cover of the 2011 USAID President’s Malaria Initiative Annual Report to US Congress. I don’t want to brag or anything – but I think this might mean that Obama himself might have even flipped past it while bored in some meeting. Or at least some members of Congress gave it a glance. Okay, at a minimum a lot of poor Interns had to see it while reading the report on behalf of their Congressman/woman. Fine – a proud contribution to a paperweight in some fancy offices and libraries in Washington D.C. It isn’t my favourite photo or really too special but hey you take what you can get!

Speaking of the big international aid donors – A couple of pictures I took on this same trip made it into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria’s photo exhibition as finalists in late 2010 but the link is now down.

Another cool win in this area came last month when a Tanzania bookstore chain held a photography contest for their 2012 Novel Idea Calendar. They asked for a max. of 20 entries of People, Landscapes, Ocean, and Wildlife from Tanzania which would make up their Tanzania tourism calendar for the year ahead. I managed to place 2 photos into the final 48 of 1,300+ entries and in the end managed one of the final 12 spots with a picture taken from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on December 2009′s climb with Pavan! Just call me Mr. June from now on…

A quick sample of some of my other entries (I only have the Zanzibar ones online at the moment) which didn’t win but just might entice you to come visit.

So, sometime in the future I promise some more posts – Ethiopia, Rwanda & Burundi, Roadtrips & Weekends, and more Dar es Salaam everyday life are all on tap.

In other news – I’ll be back home in Canada on August 23rd for at least a little while – so if your based there, I’ll hope to see you soon!

Given that I arrived here in Tanzania in September 2009 – was back last July/August – and now will return again in the summer  - this makes for approximately 28 continuous months of summer weather and counting….

Cheers,
Dan

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A day in this Bongo life

I’ve spent about 15+ months now in total living in Dar es Salaam. Originally stemming from it’s Arabic name  ’Harbour of Peace’. Commonly just goes by Dar. Shortcoded DSM. On the streets – Bongo (slang for brains…you need them to survive in the city). Call it what you will – it’s been ‘home’ for some time now and as such has been a big part of my life and experiences over here in Tanzania. Mimi ni mBongo kabisa.

Now that I think about it, it’s climbed up to 4th in terms of the places I’ve spent the most time living in (New Hamburg, ON -> Santa Cruz, Bolivia -> Waterloo, ON ->DSM ->Toronto, ON)  - so I figure I owe it some kind of tribute and it will give you (wherever you are) a chance to learn a little more about this city.

So…somehow this has once again turned into a blog post dominated by the photos and a bit shorter on the narrative. Blame it on laziness and not wanting to write so much or on wanting to showcase some favourite pics – but either way I figure pictures can be one of the best ways (worth a thousand words? - and if that’s not good enough there are real words in all the captions…) to express some of the day-to-day life which I personally experience in this city.

And in the end, I wanted to get out at least one post  in March and with leaving for Ethiopia in a few hours …time was of the essence – so enjoy some random bits of writing and photos from this year so far in Bongo!

Dar has an official population estimate of approx. 3 million people and growing at a crazy fast and rather uncontrolled pace – it’s estimated it will reach over 5 million people before 2020. This growth has mostly been in the form of the unplanned sprawl in every direction with the complete lack of any scaled capabilities in water, sewage, roads, and other infrastructure.

When I arrived back in Dar this past August – I had the task of finding housing. Housing in Dar is the tale of two markets – Generally high-end houses and apartments with rents similar or exceeding Toronto and other major Western cities and the more local housing market where monthly rents are often measured in tens or low hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. Trying to find that inbetween was a long and defeating search – but eventually managed to hit a nice sweet spot. On the positive side -the three weeks of searching everyday after work meant I got to visit all kinds of new unexplored areas of the city and got to see inside some of the world’s most hideously kitsch decorated apartments (this coming from a guy who’s decorating remains frozen in-time to 1st year university dorm styles…)

Dar is generally not one of the top places to visit when people come to Tanzania – maybe a transit point that gets a day or two but its generally not a destination in itself. But that’s one of the thing that I like about living in Dar – you can generally go. All I need to do is go to Zanzibar for a weekend in high season and be surrounded by tourists and people selling things to all the visitors..Jambo rafiki!… and I’m reminded of this again.

After a few months living here I finally went through with my ambitions to buy a bike to pedal power myself around the city. Foregoing the easily available cheap Chinese road bikes – I’ve managed to finally procure myself a mountain bike.  Riding a bicycle down Kimweri Ave in morning rush hour traffic of bajaji’s, pedestrians, dangerous dalla-dallas, equally crazy SUV drivers, and a host of other vehicles and random obstacles – I wish I had one of those helmet cameras to take you with me. It’s been great though to get around and to take aimless rides through new neighbourhoods and just explore the city with my camera. Most of the pictures in this post are from those Sundays on the bike.

Dirty Dar – According to this Forbes article from 2008 – Dar was ranked the world’s 12th dirtiest city – according to a Mercer Health and Sanitation Index Score. It’s certainly not something that is reflected in my day-to-day life as we have regular access to water and sewage (although the latter also flows rather freely in in ditches nearby as well) -but it is a huge issue for many areas and much of the city’s population. While Dar is a beautiful city in many ways, it is definitely also a very dirty one. Garbage is everywhere and burned on the streetside because of lack of proper disposal options.

The multi-cultural make-up of DSM along with the large expat and business population has made for a decent selection and variety of restaurants to choose from. I certainly can’t complain anyways (not that I was going to with 3 sushi places) when speaking with friends living out in more remote areas where only the TZ dietary staples (generally ugali/rice/chips with fried beef/chicken/fish) are available. Still, there are things I would rather not admit to which I would do in a heartbeat for decent Mexican food right about now…

This time around I have been lucky enough to get involved in plenty of different sports to stay active. Regular Football Tuesdays and Fridays, Basketball Wednesdays and Floorball Thursdays have given a much needed outlet to run around and added some routine to the weeks. A proud member of the Valhalla Vikings F.C. – 2009 Dar es Salaam World Cup champions!

There are about 4 different styles of paintings you can buy from the artists and street sellers in Dar -Vaguely categorized as  Tinga-Tinga, Masaai, Zanzibar,Wildlife, and generic african style. Walk into any mzungu home and your often guaranteed to see the same stuff. I can understand you go with what sells – but someone needs to step up and diversify! Now that I mention it, its not just artists – but is often apparent in the general business environment. There are sections of town/the road known as the place to go for any particular item. The problem is – they all sell the exact same thing and are all in a row. Go with what works – but I have to think that being the 9th shop in the area selling mobile phones is not the best business plan.

It really struck me on my second week back – sitting in the plastic chairs, a somewhat cold Safari Lager in your hand and a plate of chipsi mayai in front of you. The the nighttime temperature and humidity down to a more comfortable level, listening to the ting ting ting of the Taraab or Bongo Flava music playing loudly in the background and being lulled away by the table conversation in a language you don’t yet fully understand. It had a very strange and comfortable familiarity to it all being back in Dar.

Likewise there were parts of Canada and western life which I experienced while being home this past summer that felt more foreign. Dress codes? Closing times? Checking the weather forecast? Rules and laws that are enforced and require obedience? Not being able to afford eating out every night? Uggh

Some of the uncontrolled growth in Dar – along with questionable military safety measures/motivations – have led to a pair of tragedies in Dar recently. First in April 2009, and again in February this year – Army bases with surrounding residential populations turned into horrible scenes  when munitions depots caught fire sending  explosions over DSM. I live about 25km away from the site but that night our windows were shaking from the blasts – I can only imagine how bad it must have been for the neighbours.  Read the BBC article here

As nice as the climate is in Arusha, as much of a quiet and stress-free life I am sure one can live down on the shores of Lake Nyasa, as beautiful mountain views there are in Lushoto, and as much of a tropical paradise is Zanzibar…I don’t  think, at this point in time, there’s anywhere else I’d rather live for a long period of time in Tanzania. In terms of social life and a variety of things to do – Dar provides the most (and its not much -hence high ratio of Vicky Mendoza diagonal incidences?)

Last thing – come visit! Seriously – while… less serious offer for you random internet visitors who stumbled upon this. You are making a decision you’ll someday regret right now as you currently tell yourself that you’d love to but you just can’t because of X,Y, and Z. Make it happen and you’ll have the 5-star luxury of a blow-up mattress and guaranteed adventures in Dar!

Anyways, hope you enjoyed and got to see a slice of this guy’s Bongo life!

Cheers,

Dan

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“I’ve been workin’ on mosquito nets, all the live long day”

Hello internet, Whatcha knowin’? I’ve come to watch your flowers growin…’

Over the last 5 months I’ve had people ask me about how work’s going and what it is exactly that I am doing over here this year. Well, I will aim to appease fan request(s) and give a little glimpse into how I spend my daily 8-5. Boring! Alas, you asked and I wrote it. Hope it gives you a quick glimpse into my weekday working world.

“I’ve been workin’ on mosquito nets, all the live long day”

Well, that’s not really so true. Despite working on a mosquito bed net program, I really barely ever see any mosquito nets in any of my day-to-day work (but I do actually sleep under one every night. Malaria Haikubaliki!) Also, to the disappointment of some people I meet on the street and tell them where I work – I can’t get you a free one. More accurately – the change to the classic children’s/folk song would be along the lines of  ”I’ve been working on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets/mobile phone applications & databases/4 hour partner meetings, all the live long day…”.

The first piece of my job is essentially program/project management stuff for the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS). I spend a lot of time writing reports, memos, and letters to the Ministry of Health, the Donor agencies, and our public and private sector implementing partners. I keep an eye on how the program is doing in the 21 regions across mainland Tanzania through voucher and net sale statistics and try to find ways that we can help things along by working with our net distribution partner and our Regional Managers in the field.

The other piece of this role has been a rather massive data entry, clean-up, and digitization exercise of our program’s paper records into a central database/Management Information System. This database is the basis for enabling and launching some very cool mobile phone reporting tools (which our in-house (literally, he’s my roommate!  haha, lame jokes rock) technical guru Zach  has built) using SMS messages and GPS coordinates from the net distribution company and shop owners to better track and GIS map the program activities as they unfold in real-time. Ambitious and a bit scary to do country-wide but underway.


A second piece of my role is entitled – Business Development and Communications. Thus far, this has been an interesting but much smaller component of my work. I’ve been updating and printing promotional materials, re-designing and writing our new website, and been involved in the search for new projects and partners for the organization in the future. If you are interested in learning a bit more check out our shiny new homemade website at http://medatanzania.org

Soft skills are for ‘team players’

Life is a blast when you know what you’re doin
Best to know what you’re doin ‘fore your life get ruined
Life is a thrill when your skill is developed
If you ain’t got a skill or trade, then shut the hell up

Hieroglyphics -At the helm. Again…a very random insertion of music lyrics into the post. But a great song…and sometimes when I hear this verse I think to myself…I need to get myself some skills! (I mean I know I have mad rap skillz but) …it would have been easier if I would have just given up on enjoying life and become an Accountant (joking! please don’t audit me) and at least had a hard skill/trade/set professional path. I know I am learning and gaining good experience but…Everyone is a team player, good communicator, and thinks outside the box on their resume. How will working on a mosquito bed net program in TZ be viewed on the future resume?…time will tell I suppose.

Breaking News:  Mobile phones will not ‘save Africa’

Rant: Technology can do a lot of great things for development and it should be used where it can help in simple, practical, and achievable ways. But I think it isn’t the answer to everything and can dangerously eat up valuable project resources when forced unnaturally into situations. All this said, as I described above, a part of my work here this year has been working with the integration of technology into the TNVS program so this is an area that I go back and forth on often. There are plenty of success stories and we are working to make this project one of them… but I do get a bit worried when I see everyone and their neighbor in this field rushing headfirst to integrate mobile technology into their projects cause it’s the next hot thing that those controlling the money want to see.

I am far from being on top of the field in this topic but it can seem clear from here. Design solutions in the most usable way for the people that are targeted – don’t design to get a project to be ground-breaking or to get  funded (easier said than done and naively idealistic? just perhaps). Check out a really cool Human-Centered Design Kit here which was passed along to me if you are interested in this kind of stuff!

An office with a view or a view with an office?

One thing I would never ever dare complain about is the view I am looking out across from my desk each day.

Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen. Focus on your screen.

Are we speaking the same language?

Acronyms are a way of life in a lot of industries, but I feel like they are especially prevalent in the international development field. With all the different Governments, Donors, Organizations, Accords, and Agreements  put together it makes for a steep acronym learning curve.  Heck, I have apparently gotten into the spirit myself given the job title TL, TNVS, BD & C.  Here is a sample which I read this past week from a publicly available United States Agency for International Development document called ‘Feed The Future (that’s USAID FTF for those of you counting at home) – Tanzania 2010 Implementation Plan’ ;

When NEPAD adopted CAADP (2005), the GOT was finalizing ASDP for implementation in 2006. The GOT began the CAADP process, but progress stalled based on a consensus that ASDP articulated the CAADP pillars. Following the G8 L’Aquila meeting and 2009 multi-donor CAADP meeting, the GOT revived CAADP by inviting the NEPAD Secretariat to assess ASDP compliance with CAADP requirements.

Are we speaking the same language? Progressing with Swahili continues to prove challenging enough thank you.

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Even more past Ayoba Time – Stories and Pictures from the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part II

Welcome to Part II of my posts about the June/July adventures travelling down to and around South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. If you missed Part I – you can check it out here. That said, this is (as usual) just a collection of ramblings, pictures, and stories with very little common-thread…so its not so much necessary that you go back and read it…I’ll leave it up to you.

Tales of ordinary murder

No, this is not a reference to all the hype and media scare which built-up to the World Cup about how every fan was risking their life to visit SA. Lucky you – it’s a new addition to Dan’s “I doubt Oprah even reads everything on her book club list” Book Club! Throughout much of my time in SA, I was reading a book that I would like to tell you a bit about and add to the reading list: My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience by Rian Malan. First off, warning for all you young children that read this blog before bed-time – this book ain’t a Fun with Dick and Jane light-hearted jaunt. It was definitely one of the darkest and most disturbing accounts that I have ever read. That said,  South Africa under apartheid in the late 80′s was not a pretty place for anyone.

The book is an account of a white South African Afrikaaner who returns to SA after many years to become a journalist covering crime cases. He tells the compelling story of SA through the lens of the crimes he reports on and what they say about this society. It is a very raw and personal account of his own battle to understand the entrenched racial systems, his own place in all of this, and the violence that were very much tearing South Africa apart when he wrote this account.  I really enjoyed his writing style -unedited, emotional,  honest, confrontational, and conversational. Here is (one of the more intense) snippets:

“…I think I should rest my case right here, for fear that I lose control, leap off the page, and tear out the throat of the nearest enlightened white man.

….Am I upsetting you my friend? Good. Do you want to argue? Do you want to tell me about the evils of apartheid? Do you want to talk about democracy and the allied civil and human rights that fall under the umbra of its name? Okay. Let’s open my bulging files of tales of ordinary murder. You choose your weapons and I’ll choose mine, and we’ll annihilate the certainties in one another’s brains.”

Phew! Don’t let that scare you though – he’s not that raging angry the entire book! During 4 weeks travelling through SA, I read a lot of other historical accounts and visited the both Nelson Mandela and Apartheid museums  (all amazing as well) – but I have to say that this book provided a completely unique level of analysis and eye-opening understanding. If you are interested in learning more about SA under apartheid and especially the turmoil and events that began the chain of events which led to Mandela’s release – I highly recommend you check it out… of your local library branch (everyone is looking to save money in these hard times you know).

Think happy thoughts and look at the pretty pictures

Was that a bit dark and troubling? I don’t want to leave you with bad taste in your mouth about that beautiful country. No, that would be no good…we must do something to fix this. Or do I just want a chance to post more photos? Either way -Let’s take a tour through some of the breathtakingly beautiful scenery in South Africa as captured through my camera… which was at last fixed and operational for the final 3 weeks of the journey.

The photos from the trip are starting to make their way up onto my Flickr Page little by little – so if you want to see more check out the South Africa Roadtrip Set here.

A brief tutorial on how to make tax-free billions off the taxpayer

Overall, the World Cup pretty much lived up to all my expectations. South Africa put on a great show and were amazingly hospitable hosts for the tournament and proved all of the bad press and nay-sayers wrong which was certainly nice to see. Unfortunately, how it will do with the giant white-elephant stadiums and debt legacy that these giant world events leave a country/city with is a different story.

To skim the surface of this topic  - the most corropt sports organization in the world, our host FIFA, made off with $3.5 Billion USD in TAX-FREE profits from the event – meanwhile  while the SA government was saddled with an estimated $2.9 billion USD in debt to build new stadiums and airports for the two month event. Congratulations goes out to the taxpayers of Russia and Qatar – the recent winners of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups… BUT since there isn’t much to do about that now and its all a bit depressing (blame the system not the fan, my friend) – I think they should be lauded for a truly great achievement and for showing the world a different and truly capable side of Africa than many might have expected.

Just can’t shake that poser feeling

That said, there was something a little bit off the whole time. This nagging feeling I just couldn’t shake. Like a square peg and a round hole, like most of us on that first day of Grade 9 in high-school, like the Pope giving the key-note at  World Condom Day  - I just didn’t quite belong (yes, i am pretty sure i just made that up -go ahead, google it). It felt like everyone there had one distinct advantage over me in the are-you-a-legit-fan-or-just-some-poser-who-can’t-name-a-player-on-the-pitch assessment that sports fans often do when meeting….they actually had their country participating in the tournament.

There were even quite a few other lost Canadian souls at the tournament. At one game in Joburg I rubbed my eyes when I saw a banner hanging from the stands reading “Newfoundland and Labrador – Canada’s Soccer Capital“. Really? Really? Too much Newfoundland Screech for some hoser I think.

…but a super interesting poser at least?

May I present to you, the jury, Exhibit A in the prosecution’s case of Grand World Cup Posering:

During the World Cup travels I found myself  interviewed on four different occasions by the time I headed home by various international tv stations. (What can I say? I am on my way to the personal goal of becoming one of those most interesting people in the world who gets invited to fabulous parties for the sole reason that they are interesting and might make the party more interesting just by their presence.) In a true mark of a World Cup poser, I was supporting a different team in three of the four interviews.

  1. Supporting Argentina – interviewed by Argentinean TV outside the Ellis Park Joburg stadium before the Argentina-Nigeria game
  2. Supporting Denmark (who the hell supports Denmark? Dislike of Dutch > Fear of being the lone Denmark fan I guess) interviewed by Bolivian TV - In the Soccer City stadium -Joburg after Netherlands – Denmark game
  3. Supporting Spain interviewed by Japanese TV – fanwalk outside the Capetown stadium on the way to Spain -Portugal game
  4. Supporting Argentina, interviewed/made the butt of many jokes by a Brazilian comedy show – In a bar across the street from Capetown stadium watching/crying during the live- next-door Germany- Argentina debacle.

So you see, the evidence has clearly been broadcasted out to the world to judge and convict me of crimes of world cup fan posering. But until the year that Canada makes the World Cup (see you in Brazil 2014?), I guess I’ll  have to be that hardcore fan that tries and tries, but just doesn’t quite fit in.

What’s on tap barman?

Since it’s already almost mid-December and I likely won’t get another chance to update you before the holidays are here – thought I would provide a quick update and seasons greetings.

Time is flying by -can’t believe I’ve been back for 3 and a half months already – and I know it will only go faster and 2011 will be here before we  know it. I will be heading south this holiday season for 11 days backpacking around Northern Mozambique and spend the holidays there. It’s a bit weird spending christmas away from family and friends but I’ve found that hitting the road this time of year makes it somehow easier…so very excited for the adventure ahead and will hope to share some good stories and pictures in a new post next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone!

Cheers,
Dan

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Slightly past Ayoba time…Travels to the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part I

Well, okay…a little more than slightly past Ayoba time…but better late than never?

Check your calendar Dan, you’re about 5 months too late with this post. You gotta get your priorities straight and stop living in the past. (Am I allowed to use the cliche excuse that I’m on African time?). So maybe being on time isn’t my thing – but I think there are still some cool stories and philosophizing to share so even if this is maybe no longer categorized under current events, I hope you’ll make it past this paragraph.

For your reference back home – It’s Ayoba Time! was the advertising campaign being run by the World Cup telecom sponsor MTN and played incessantly everywhere in Africa during the lead up and main event itself. The Ayoba vuvuzela “tune” was a common sound heard whenever you were in a World Cup host city and  may have interrupted more than a few conversations along Durban’s Florida St. restaurants and cafe’s as we got everyone into the world cup spirit during a particular night of revelry.  And yes, the 2010 World Cup was exactly like that street party scene in the last shot of the ad.

Editor’s Note: Part I…what’s up with that?

As I have been told many times and have readily admitted on this blog before – I have a bit of a problem keeping things concise. This post has been in various progressive forms of draft mode since I returned to Canada on July 9th – and with each of my visits it grew and grew in size until became in danger of becoming  an unreadable-in-one-sitting-novel. As such, I have split the post into a two-part series (and they are both still bloody long!) – more dusty foot philosophizing to love for all of us!

“baby, I would follow you to the ends of the earth”

Where I left off on this blog  during the travels down to SA we were headed to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border to see the mighty Victoria Falls and I promised not to do anything too stupid. Well, the jury is still out on that one.

The first of my two “at the ends of the earth” moments I experienced on this stage of the trip was from the air. It was  the less-stupid decision we made to take a ultra-lite/micro-lite flight over the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls to get a birds-eye view. When you visit the falls from the ground level you truly understand why the indigenous people here called the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders” for all you non-Kololo speakers. I loved that name the moment I first read it. It’s (obviously?) neither of those things and yet it fits so perfectly. When approaching the falls from the ground you can see the mist rising up from miles away and a hear a dull roar where the river suddenly drops off. When you get up close on the trail that goes beneath the falls – you are completely soaked,  can only see a blanket of mist in front of you,  and can hardly hear each other over the roar of the water.

The ultra-lite flight is the perfect counterbalance to intensity of the ‘smoke and thunder’. You soar up into the air with no walls keeping you in and your bare feet hanging off the edge and blowing in the wind. It’s a glorified go-kart with wings and until the jet-pack becomes commercially available (The Jetsons promised me such technology by now…) – I think it might be the closest thing to human flight available. It was eerily quiet and peaceful up there and you see a side of this spectacle of nature that you thought was the sole domain of those BBC Planet Earth film crews or National Geographic photographers that us mere mortals weren’t allowed to witness.

I don’t know if this will make sense to you but I will try. There are moments in life when you are just purely happy. When you have a big goofy smile on your face that starts to hurt your cheeks but you can’t reign it in. When you say to yourself, “damn…Louis Armstrong was right”. Where, if real-life had a soundtrack, there would be an epic classical masterpiece hitting its crescendo during this scene. When you know that what you need to do in life is chase these moments, that feeling… maybe it is a person for you or a place or an experience…but you need to find it wherever it is on this planet…. and that the bad parts of life or stress of work  and earning a paycheque is purely there to enable this. Yeah, it was kinda cool like that.

The less intelligent “at the edge of the world” moment was a bit more straightforward. Put one foot in front of the other and walk off a cliff.

According to the stats I just looked up on their website – the gorge-swing jump was a “160 ft pure Free Fall…….Reaching speeds of up to 180 Km/h.” and was supposed to last 4 seconds or something (yes, that is enough time to both fully comprehend that it was a stupid decision and subsequently urinate your pants) before the rope catches just above the ground below and whips you into a high-speed swing across the tree tops. I would like to say that if I had thought more about those numbers at the time I wouldn’t have done it – but that’s probably not true. Ah well, you learn your lessons (and your whiplashed neck and lower back pay the price) – I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again. Well, I should probably be completely honest with you – we climbed back up to the top and proceeded to try the  aptly named tandem-death-drop where you tie yourself at the ankles and waist to a buddy and flip backwards off the ledge. But going forward…I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again.

“It’s the people that make the place”

Okay, so maybe this is obvious as well -but isn’t it kind of funny how a place, a neighbourhood, a city, a country even – can be defined in your memory not necessarily by its actual tourist attractions or natural beauty but purely by the people that you meet there?

Two such experiences from our trip stand out which made me want to include this observation here. The second was in Durban, SA. Two strangers in a city meet some people out while watching a game. Instead of the easier/safer/conventional goodbye we are invited into their lives for our 3 days in Durban. Keys to the apartment, cooking dinners, visiting workplaces, going to house parties, exchanging good books & music, and lots of jokes makes Durban stand above its more famous Cape Town and Johannesburg counterparts in my books.

The first was in Bulowayo, Zimbabwe where six dirty, smelly, pretty much random travelers were taken in and made a part of a family for our brief  stay. Cooking barbeque feasts, giving relationship advice, white-bread eating contests, joining  family monopoly night, and sitting around the living room hearing personal stories of how one family dealt with Zim’s unbelievable inflation crisis of 2008 and why they choose to stay when the easy path to just leave is available. That’s what I will always remember about Zimbabwe.

I guess the moral of the story is  - be kind to strangers, be especially welcoming to guests, and just know the effect you can have when someone else passes temporarily through your world.

“This is Africa’s World Cup”

The hype starting building even before we arrived in Tanzania a full 11 months before the opening kick-off. What started then as an email sent out to my fairly unknown two future roommates in Dar while preparing for last years trip (and I copy and paste) – “Hey guys. I’m looking at possibly staying until the beginning of June and then hopefully heading to South Africa to take part in some World Cup festivities before heading home” – turned into those 3 guys booking their return flights out of South Africa with no plans of how to get there – turned into some purchased game tickets – evolved into some rough plans involving trains, boats, buses, and cars – and finally turned into a reality. kinda cool.

In the months leading up to the tournament I talked with a lot of people about it and that buzz just kept on building. Everyone was excited that Africa had an opportunity to be on the world stage and play host to the world’s game. It didn’t matter that SA was the official host – this was Africa’s World Cup and I was told that many times over. I particularly remember meeting a man in Mbeya, Tanzania who, when I told him we were going,  told me he was religiously buying bottles of Coke to look under the cap and try to win the grand prize trip and tickets to the final. He laughed and said he knew he wouldn’t win but how could he not try? This was once in a lifetime and this was Africa’s World Cup.

As we got closer to the World Cup (both geographically and chronologically) it was like there was a giant funnel on the continent – draining everyone you met down to SA for the opening. Of course, its sad that most of these people we met heading to the event were foreigners as well – and only the most privileged percentage of Africans on this continent were able to come experience their very own continent’s World Cup in person. But I think you could probably argue the same about Canada hosting the Olympics or other major events like this held anywhere – and in the end the immense continental pride and ownership was still there at all levels.

“Welcome home, we’ve been waiting 200,000 years”

Finally, I’ll leave you with a video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s speech from the launch concert the night before the opening game. He welcomes the world to not only South Africa – but all of Africa which I thought was a very nice touch given the proud ownership of the event that we saw throughout the continent on our travels.  ”Africa is the cradle of humanity”  and so if we go far enough back…we are all African. True that, Archbishop, true that.

Welcome home world. Now doesn’t that just bring a tear to your eye?

Stay tuned for Part II of this post dealing with some of the actual World Cup fun ….coming soon (or at least sometime in the next 5 months…)

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Finally, a political race with some mystery

Thought I would write today a little about a common theme that is running through both my life here and perhaps also yours. It’s an election year here in Tanzania and the country which is scheduled to go to the poll every 5 years will vote for its new president and parliament on October 31st. Back home in Ontario, voters went to the polls to elect a new mayors and city councils on Monday, Oct 25th (really Toronto? Rob Ford? Maybe I’ll stay abroad 3 more years…) and then there are my American friends who have their mid-term elections coming up next week on November 2nd. For the political junkies out there, it’s a fine time to be alive.

I must admit, while I do not claim to be any kind of expert or really hold anything much beyond common knowledge about politics, I do find myself somewhat hooked every time an election is in the news. So, perhaps not a political junkie – more of an elections junkie. During the American presidential primaries in 2007, I had a Super Tuesday reminder in my Outlook calendar and stayed in to watch Barack and Hilary duke it out as the live results came in on CNN. I have been known to closely follow foreign elections of which I should really have no interest in at all and can’t pronounce the candidates’ names properly. I find advanced polling numbers addictive and analyzing campaign strategies strangely attractive. Should I stop now? Anyways, as such, I’ve been quite interested in this weekend’s election here in TZ and thought I might bring you up to speed on the unpredictable world of my first Tanzanian election campaign.

As I often do, I’d like to add a disclaimer in here for any readers I might upset with anything I write – I know everyone always says avoid talking about politics, religion, and sex – but, frankly speaking, the weather and the local sports teams make for boring posts– so, pole sana, I’m just an outsider looking in and giving my particular perspective! (stay tuned for future posts on sex and religion I guess).

Let’s start out with a inadequate 30 second history lesson. Tanzania gained independence from the UK in 1961 and as with many other of these fledging states, turned to its independence leaders and founding political party to lead the nation. Tanzania was fortunate to have the strong leadership of  Julius Nyrere during this formative time and has escaped much of the government-military merry-go-rounds and ethnic group divisions that have famously marred many of its neighbouring states. However it was not until 1985, when under pressure from foreign governments and donors, that the country agreed to abandon it’s founding one-party political state. Even with the introduction of multi-party politics and elections in 1985, the ruling CCM party has never had a serious challenger for the business of running this country – winning the elections thus far without serious challenge (capturing 81% of the vote in the 2005 election.)

Here we are in 2010 and against what I certainly seemed to expect (another runaway victory for the incumbent Jakaya Kikwete’s CCM) we might just have a real race on our hands. Despite what seems to be an outspending by the ruling CCM of their nearest rivals by at least a 10:1 margin (if not 10x that amount) – a party which last election only garnered 5.8% of the vote called Chadema and their presidential candidate Dr. Wilibrod Slaa are gaining a strong following with their anti-corruption and change message (but more on that later). A huge CCM advertising campaign is underway and has absolutely covered the entire city of Dar es Salaam – I would estimate their green and yellow billboards must cover close to half of all available advertising spaces in the city.


Back home we are inundated with a barrage of data and predictions from political experts throughout a campaign. Daily polls are released tracking the fortunes of each party/candidate and a person can quite often have a very solid idea of who will win their particular election long before they get the chance to cast their vote (I’m still waiting to vote in an election where my riding isn’t already a foregone conclusion). Exit polls and the vast amount of data available are often allow television channels to make their ‘calls’ on the victor moments after the last polls close and even then only in the closest of races are the results unknown before you go to sleep that same night.

Here in Tanzania, there have been polls conducted for what I can tell seems to be one of the first times, and the published results have been causing quite a stir. For much of this race the anecdotal evidence (seems as though number of people showing up at a public rallies was the #1 barometer ) seemed to point to Chadema gaining some very serious traction. However, when the first opinion poll came out it at the end of September it predicted the usual CCM victory by 71% to Chadema’s 12%. An October 10th poll by another organization had CCM pegged at 61% with Chadema scoring 16% again causing much controversy. Then a new poll was released by a third organization on October 16th which just threw everything off balance again as this one predicted a 45% victory for Chadema to CCM’s 41% – a swing of 30%+ in the results in two weeks time! Of course, there has been  little  information made publicly available on the statistical methods or validity in any of these polls and so everyone is left to question the means and motives behind them… which only adds to the mystery surrounding Sunday’s vote.


I must say, for me anyways, there is something very refreshing about the mystery and certain unknown before Sunday’s vote here. Purely as an election-watcher, it is kind of nice to not know in advance for once which direction the election will go. On a more serious note though, with some limited occasions of campaign violence, fraud allegations,  and trouble already occurring before the voting – here is to a sincere hope that whatever the results, the losing side can be gracious in defeat and no violence will mar the proceedings and the results. Here is also to hoping that whichever party and whichever officials get elected, they take their mandate seriously and look out for the progress of all Tanzanians. At a minimum, its always good to know there is strong competition this year – because a strong opposition keeps everyone on their toes and everyone wins from more accountable government.


Well, this post is long enough already and since this all probably isn’t as interesting as I think it is…I’ll wrap it up. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into what is surely a soon to be extinct phenomenon…a political election with a little remaining mystery before the votes are counted.


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Been spending most our lives, livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

Hey, hey, heyyyyy

He keeps a blog – he can obviously do a little writing – but did you know this dusty foot philosopher can also spit mad rhymes and throw lyrical hooks with the best of them? (since when is Coolio considered amongst the best of them?) Well kind of anyways…

I moved into our new place in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago now and so for the first time I am not living in the neighborhood we affectionately named “Mzungu Paradise” last year. Loving the new place and new neighbourhood thus far – but maybe I’ll give some updates on that another time. Upon my immediate return to Dar back in August, I was fortunate enough to be taken in by our awesome neighbours from last year while I looked for new housing and so I found myself living back in our same apartment block once again the first three weeks. Ah, how the memories came a’ floodin’ back and inspired the creative juices.

I very briefly discussed some thoughts about the neighborhood and housing we were set-up with in a past post -  and I also promised in that post to someday publish the world-wide debut of my alternate lyrics paying homage to our previous home. Well my friends, despite what CCR sings, this someday has finally come.

This production is based upon on a great tradition – begun while working at Hidden Acres and Fraser Lake Camps – and then honed while a member of the Bare Naked Frosh cover-group at Grebel – and so it is continued here. Taking the music of a popular song and changing the lyrics around for comedic/poetic(?) purposes. This is an art people. I have debated whether it was a good idea to post – but what is the internet for if not for freedom of speech/freedom to express crappy art? I certainly don’t want to cause controversy here or sound ungrateful for anything – I’m just poking some fun.

Orient your geographic-self with the neighborhoods of Dar es Salaam:

View Mzungu Paradise in a larger map

To give credit where it is due – the lyics below to Mzungu Paradise are roughly based off of Coolio’s – Gangsta’s Paradise and then really just changed into a simple rhyming pattern –  and also maybe a little of Weird Al Yankovitch’s parody – Amish Paradise. It is also probably necessary to pay homage to the original Stevie Wonder’s – Pastime Paradise. If you don’t know the tune – listen to them!

Mzungu Paradise

As I walk through these dusty streets of Dar es Salaam strange/

I take a look at my life and realize there’s been little change/

Cause life ain’t that hard for a mzungu like me/

When you live and work in the heart of Masaki/


If I had to speak more swahili that would be nice/

but it’s tough to learn when you live in Mzungu Paradise/

Only had to eat ugali na maharege once or twice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


At six in the mornin’, I can have a hot shower/

With our huge generator you know we never lose power/

You see those Tanesco rolling black-outs are just nothin’ to me/

But you know that this convenience has never come free/


Had to take a taxi home more than once or thrice/

Cause there ain’t no public transport here in Mzungu Paradise/

But  for the peninsula life you must pay the price/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


I drink my coffee every morning from a french press/

Cause this AfriCafe instant shit just doesn’t impress/

Who’s idea was the pleather couches in this Dar heat?/

Jer, I’ll trade you for the bowl chair in a heart-beat/


Sippin’ Konyagi with zee Germans once or twice/

Sittin’ at the massive table in Mzungu Paradise/

A bigger kitchen than would ever suffice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


It’s a long way back to the university this at night/

Gotta stay ’till the bajaji’s come again at first daylight/

And that’s not just a line, you know that its true/

My smooth efforts aren’t that see-through/


Rockin’ mustaches straight outta’ Miami Vice/

As we roll through the paved streeets of Mzungu Paradise/

Just call our no-pants roof party ‘epic’ if you must be concise/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


Sub-Saharan Africa ain’t so bad in this air-conditioned place/

Sometimes if you want sleep you just gotta embrace/

Living posh here amongst the Embassies and NGO’s/

Now you wish you didn’t know where your tax dollar goes/


It can be embarrassing, but can also be nice/

All these luxuries we have here in Mzungu Paradise/

Mixed feelings, but hey – it’s been a real slice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

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