Adam Hooper's Blog

Tag: Tanzania Show all blog posts

Jul, 2022 back to Nov, 2010: (nothing)

Oct, 2010

Election season in Tanzania

Posted October 16 in Tanzania

It's election season in Tanzania, and there's a new bus station somewhere near the middle of nowhere.

A shiny new bus station in Nyaka Kangaga, Tanzania.

I can't figure out how many people need this bus station. Nyaka Kangaga doesn't even appear on the census. The biggest nearby census-polled town, Heru Ushingo, counted about 60,000 people back in 2002. (And how many of them can vote? The number probably fluctuates wildly with Burundian refugee migrations.)

Nyaka Kangaga isn't at a fork in the road. Sure, Burundi is a day's walk away, but there's no border crossing. Few Tanzanians live in the area. Kigoma, the nearest hub, is three hours away. There's no airstrip or seaport. To me, it seems like there's very little reason to build a brand-new bus station instead of, say, hiring teachers or doctors or paving the road.

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Oct, 2010 back to Sep, 2010: (nothing)

Aug, 2010

Pictures of Summer 2010

Posted August 31 in Tanzania

I've uploaded pictures of my summer abroad.

Between my take-off from Montreal and my return four and a half months later, I took 4,675 pictures. Fear not, though: I've only published 50 in this album.

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I'm going home

Posted August 17 in Tanzania

I'm going home.

Flying away makes me examine my experiences. I reflect and reflect until I worry the mirrors inside me will shatter from over-thought.

To the countless greens of Rwanda, the dusty infinities of Tanzania, the blissful bananas of Uganda, the recently-peaceful politics of Kenya, the picture-perfect beaches of Zanzibar and the friends and strangers who unify and diversify the land with all with your culture, beauty and warmth: kwa heri.

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Jul, 2010

Kahama in Pictures

Posted July 28 in Tanzania

Kahama, in Western Tanzania, has about 100,000 residents and enough dust to cover the entire country.

It's the last town of note on the road west to Rwanda and the second-last on the way to Burundi. A new gold rush has attracted more businessmen (and businesswomen, and women of a certain business) than usual. Kahama has scores of guest houses, though it still awaits a tarmac road. This being election season, the government has started paving the highway; but while contractors did dump a kilometre's worth of gravel here three weeks ago, work seems to have stalled faster than an overstuffed dala-dala with a student driver.

School attendance is dismal, though the students I've seen are enthusiastic. This class, across from my guest house, is learning English outdoors.

Like all of Tanzania, Kahama is missing garbage collection. In the meantime, residents let garbage accumulate in public spaces like this one, the site of an abandoned construction project.

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Retraction: "I Hate Men"

Posted July 27 in Tanzania

Two years ago on this blog, I made a victim out of a friend.

Quoting myself:

One week later, the employers hired a replacement. They would never see their old house girl again.


She is beyond rescue. No well-meaning person can do anything about her situation. In the darkest parts of our hearts, for all our pride of our notions of feminism and gender equality and statistics, we know this. And in the darkest part of your heart, you already know all the stories and statistics and words I can muster.

Pendo, this is your eulogy: more respect than most women ever receive in Africa.

Actually, they saw her just last week. And so did I. A few weeks after I wrote my story about her being "abducted" by family, Pendo returned to Dar es Salaam and started sewing dresses for a living. Currently she's unemployed and job-hunting, but her smile is wider than ever.

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Miss Higher Learning

Posted July 25 in Tanzania

Thursday night, twelve university students competed to become Tanzania's Miss Higher Learning.

Number 12 was absent: I suspect she lost her nerve. This was an important event, after all: these competitors, averaging 21 years of age, already placed in their respective universities' beauty pageants. The three winners of the Miss Higher Learning contest would move on to compete with winners from other pageants for the title of Miss Tanzania.

There were plenty of cameras.

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Distributing magazines in Tanzania

Posted July 17 in Tanzania

Fema Magazine

I'm (occasionally) helping a Tanzanian organization called Femina. Femina creates and distributes magazines about gender, sexuality and HIV.

My job is to help make sure those magazines get to their intended readers.

Femina's flagship publication, Fema, is Tanzania's most popular magazine, probably because it's donor-funded and free. Femina distributes hundreds of thousands of copies of Fema to schools across the country, and an independent study recently confirmed Femina's calculation that on average, 15 people read each copy.

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Inflation in Tanzania

Posted July 10 in Tanzania

I thought I'd need to haggle to get 67,000 Tanzanian shillings with my $50 USD bill when I arrived in Dar es Salaam, but the clerk gave me 74,000.

The Tanzanian shilling is suffering. When I flew in to Dar es Salaam this April a dollar was worth about 1,350 shillings; now, it's 1,490. In other words, the shilling has dropped 10 per cent in three months.

Why? Politics, according to analysts.

Every July, Tanzania's government begins a new budget. This year's budget costs 11.6 trillion shillings, up from last year's 9.5.

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Posted July 5 in Tanzania

Kahama is a lost trade town: dustier and smaller than its lake-endowed northern neighbour Mwanza, its only assets are buried gold, a few hundred thousand residents and a dirt road that guides trucks from the rest of Tanzania to Rwanda. Google Maps shows it as a low-resolution swerve in the road. On the ground, it seems like every second building is a guest house.

Maybe I should have seen where this conversation was going, as I filled in my midrange hotel's registry:

"Company?" asked the landlady.

"No, I'm a student, I don't have a company," I replied.

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Jul, 2010 back to May, 2010: (nothing)

Apr, 2010


Posted April 29 in Tanzania

Posta in the rainy season

Those aren't boats: they're buses. This is a picture of Dar es Salaam's main public transit canal, Posta.

It's the rainy season.

If you've lived in Canada all your life, you might never have seen rain like this.

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