Bongo and Mitumba

It’s a new year.  So what’s new in Bongo – we finally have power – well some areas – the question is, for how long though.  Although a little wind causes a black out.  Kweli tena!  Juzi it was so nice and cool, I didn’t want to get out of bed.  Well, I didn’t have any reason too.  Ghafla my ka-bedside stereo goes off, together with my bedside lamp.  I call TANESCO and they tell me “nyaya zimegusana, dada, kwasababu ya upepo.” 

In Bongo, we don’t look forward to nice, windy days – the kind of weather that make wenzetu wazungu take romantic walks or roast marshmallows on the fireplace.  Sisi huku such a weather causes a black out.    But we never have it all in Bongo.  While TANESCO have finally sorted out their schitt, DAWASA is swimming in thick, dirty muck!  As for TTCL – I had applied for a new line in October 2006 – and asked them if my old account could be moved well – todate nothing has been done, despite numerous reminders.  Yaani nimechoka kabisa! 

I’m relieved though – about TANESCO, I mean.  At least now potential would-be investor don’t have to struggle with their lawyers to read the fine prints that say – bring your own energy source.  Interesting many wazungu investors thought it meant skilled labour, no wonder the place is flowing with wazungu with un-skilled labour and still no energy – well this was then – but the un-skilled wazungu that live on mihogo, wear mitumba and slap mbu vibaya sana like the lot of us are still swimming around the place.   

Speaking of investors, I finally got to learn the story behind the famous hotel 77 in Arusha.  Once upon a time when alcohol to me was greeted with “yuck”, my siblings, cousins and I used to visit the place a lot.  This was the time when you would kill for a lollipop!  Yeah, those were the days!  Then the 77 was the place to go.  I mean you mention to your crew that you have slept at 77 and everybody looks at you as if you are the don.  Siku hizi they would look at you as if you are nuts!  Their little leaflets you find on the night stands say, “equiped with modern comfort and amenities, guests are assured of the highest standard service.”  I had asked whether they had hot water for showering and I was politely told that if I stayed an extra day woud get hot water – straight from the geyser o te bathroom faucets.  This time it was in a bucket. So their leaflets should actually say, “guests are assured hot water, if visit extended to an extra day – be sure to alert the staff.”

Anyway, so after having read that, the little people in my head thought for a designer I was pretty hopeless, I mean they convinced me that there was a Pop Art theme going on there – and to be honest, I felt rather stupid not to have picked that up.  But then I wondered, how comes the ceiling boards were falling part, surely that wasn’t one of the characteristics of Pop Art – but I decided to keep my comments to myself lest I came across as daft. After trying to get the feel of this and that I realized that it wasn’t just the ceiling boards that were coming apart.  Basi bwana, the only thing that has been changed in that hotel are the curtains and linen.  I promise you!  Even the old gramophones are still in the rooms with knobs and dials having been swept off and dumped in the dumpsters a long time ago!   And the lady behind the reception counter – I promise you, it’s the same one I saw inthe 80’s!  Kweli!!! 

So when I was in Arusha for the holiday season I met this old man who told me the story behind the famous hotel 77.  Are you all ear?  Okay, in 1977, Tanzania was to host a big international meeting.  But then we didn’t have enough hotels to cater and house all the delegates.  So the kind, ahem, Israelian government offered to build temporary structures within three months to serve the purpose.  I am in the building industry – believe me three months is really for a temporary structure.  Anyway, so the 77 was built – and the instructions that once the meeting has taken place the structure to be either demolished or rehabilitated – to something better and stronger. Yaani the hotel is so beautifully located that it has such potential, if it was rehabilitated.  I understand the Government intends to sell this hotel and the remaining hotels that were once upon a time under the umbrella of the TTC.  Haya, lets wait and see.    

Anyway, this country is so used to mitumba and short cuts – tena damn expensive mitumba for that matter – from electricity, aircrafts, satellite, water, roads, telephone – jamani!  We are so used to mitumba and short cuts that the temporary structure was never demolished. One might ask if it was temporary how come it’s still standing there proud and strong and not having collapsed like the building we hear off these days.  One good thing about those days bwana was, the mitumba were of quality bwana.  People were proud of their respective careers.   Siku hizi if you mix flour into cement o as to pocket more money, knowing for sure that the building will collapse in no time – watajiju wenye nyumba!  Or hire an old, out of date and yet very expensive aircraft with only one washroom for a hundred people – mtajiju nyie mtakaopanda! Or the contracts that get signed every day turn out to be contracts to make other people’s pockets even fatter – mtajiju nyie tax payers!  By the way, don’t get me wrong – I love my country so much that whenever I see a negative I cringe!  Hence the ranting.  If I didn’t love it, believe my I would have turned a blind eye to whatever I see and pour myself a Southern Comfort. 


~ by saharasoulfood on January 9, 2007.

4 Responses to “Bongo and Mitumba”

  1. Inasikitisha sana ! Too much of anything is dangerous!Unfortunately in Tanzania we just happen to rely or think we are smart by relying on too much mitumba.The sad thing is the fact that these mitumba are treated as solutions

  2. It’s true that we tend to believe that the mitumbas are a solution. Halafu the price we pay for those mitumba, ndio I can never understand! Lakini do we really tend to believe that they are the solution or we are made to believe that?

  3. This a great blog that you have here! I will come back to read later today when I have more time. Greetings from D.C.

  4. You are damn right,we love mitumba.In those old days,as you said,at least we have people who knew how and where to get “quality” mitumba.Nowadays, the story is different.I too used to love 77 in A-town,it is a shame that the cobwebs are now kings and queens.Ah, I could just imagine the idea of a bucket full of water,kujimwagia.

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