Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The most basic things you may have not known about Tanzania festivals. (Part 1)

| |
My first ever festival was my birth day, and am glad to say that today is my birth day. It is commonly known that when a child is born comes the celebration. Well I like festivals and I hope you do too. I won’t talk about my birth day but about Tanzania annul festivals in depth and in details.

Many writers don’t have good details on Tanzania festivals like the way I do, (am bragging about it!). I have read most articles on festivals that talk about public holidays mostly. But they don’t know how these holidays are brought into life by Tanzanians; they simply assume the similarities with other countries.

Take an example of Christmas.  I know it’s only May and we have long way to go for Christmas, but just read this to prepare yourself for the holiday. First of all it doesn’t snow here in Tanzania so please don’t compare it with the U.S. or any other country.  If you want the snowing you ought to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. But one thing in common is the family gathering tradition. I am Chagga ( a tribe from Kilimanjaro region) by native and it’s a tradition to go back home in Kilimanjaro for this holiday. At this time of the year most things becomes untouchable like an Indian dalit though the reason behind is the price tag, but people will still buy. I guess Nakumat Super Market had this in mind that’s why they have a branch in Moshi Town. The buzz, feasting and the fun are the most quality things you can’t ignore during Christmas in Tanzania.

Chagga women in cleaning after feasting.

Ramadan and the Eid-al-fitr is a Muslim prolonged festival like no other. The one thing I like the most about this ceremony is the fasting and the reward of iftar in swahili FUTARI (a meal especially prepared after the long 12 hours fasting) after the fast. If you can be as lucky as me you get invited to have a futari. Who can deny the taste of heavy juicy coconut milk, spices and everything nice as compliments to healthy ingredients in the making of futari? I bet, you won’t want to miss the next invitation. The setting and arrangements of the futari is done on a well knitted mart, could be locally made or bought from somewhere else. Next thing is folding your legs and share the delicious futari. Another thing noticeable is the full use of khangas (original made In Tanzania piece of cloth) and hijabu(Muslim way of dressing) very conservative. Other Muslim festivals include Eid-al-hajj (festival of sacrifice) Islamic New year and Prophet Mohammad's birth day. Most of times it's published that during Ramadan it is consider offensives eating in public but I'm real not sure about that, since Christians are all over. This applies effectively in Zanzibar.  

Political public holidays like Union day and Independent day have their own tastes and are very appealing. Despite the commemoration of these important days we get to enjoy Gwaride (parade) from different security and defense forces divisions like the Police and the Army. Here you enjoy the quality performance from the parading activities like marching. Most of these holidays are conducted at the national stadium most of times in Dar es salaam. I like traditional dances that are performed on these days and the reminder of the national song and anthem.
Political holidays in calender:
12 Jan: Zanzibar Revolution Day (Zanzibar)
26 Apr: Union Day
9 Dec: Independence Day

Stay tuned for part two. Stories to be covered includes the most popular and well know festivals by international tourist in Tanzania which most of them happen in Zanzibar. And the reasons behind their popularity.
Read More

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get rewarded by finding the most elusive pygmy hippos in Mafia Island.

| |

"Waswahili walisema lisemwalo lipo kama halipo laja" Swahili said, what is said exists and if it doesn't it is coming. I hope that is clear with you.

Rumor has it that there are world famous pygmy hippos in mafia Island. I don't know exactly how I should frame this but the rumor has two facets. To some it's a mere lie but to others its so real and true like heart beatings. When a monster web source declare something most of us believe it all. Wikipedia reported that the existence pygmy hippos is just an illusion because there are no confirmed sighting.

My long time online friend who runs Ras Mbisi lodge in Mafia Island, Michelle Vickers recently published a post and got my attention. Here is what she had to say and wrote on her blog.

"Ever since we first arrived on Mafia, we have been looking for the elusive rumored Hippos that are reputed to live around the lakes at Chungaruma close to Ras Mbisi. We've seen droppings, we've had staff tell us they'd seen them that morning, I've seen the skeletons at the Fisheries Office in Kilindoni. Never seen one. However 2 guests that stayed in January this year did, and today they sent me a photo, here it is. They do exist :)"

In the red ring is a pygmy hippo in Mafia Island as seen this January. Photo courtesy of Ras Mbisi guests.

Ras Mbisi story made me dig dipper about the elusive hippos, as nick named. I went further by going through other informative sites to learn the entire mystery of their existence. Here are some other interesting stories in highlight.

Over the next few months the Tanzania Marine programme wants to initiate a conservation and ecotourism project for the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious). The island of Mafia harbours a relatively small population of hipposthese inhabit a network of lagoons found North-West of the island. Being it a nocturnal and semi-aquatic mammal poses numerous challenges when monitoring this species. There is no exact number of the actual population size in this area of Mafia Island, however, the Frontier team has managed to record around 20 to 40 individuals throughout their census. 

The next testimony left my jaw dropped! Super shocked. If the recording is this old what else can I say?  This source is from Mafia Island Blog.

.......Here live a number of small hippos which may have crossed from the mainland or were washed to the island by floods of the Rufiji River system. They have been on Mafia many years, since Dr Baumann records their presence in 1895.........

The above are some of confirmation I found, but then again I had to confirm it with Tanzania Tourist Board via twitter conversation and this is what they had to say:

Oops! I had to wait for a week for The "board" to confirm, typical Africa! Anyway here you have it:

What makes me go mad with my heart and adrenalin up so high is my curious adventure in mind in search of the hippos. I pray and hope not to be unlucky like these fellows 1 or 7 who really narrowed my chances to take on the adventure. If Naaman had to deep himself into river Jordan seven times to be healed from leprosy. (From the Bible). Perhaps I can get lucky with the hippos if I have to first deep myself into the Oceanic water of Mafia Island. Or maybe voodoo and potion might help!!

This mystery also gave me an idea that may be Tanzania should search for hippos and not eggs on Easter Holidays. How cool could that be?

I argue the Republic United of Tanzania under the Ministry of Natural Resources and tourism or Tanzania Tourist Board, to run a campaign or competition in search of hippos and reward those who would be successful. This might turn out to be an exotic exercise like no other and probably lure more tourists into the Island. “Easter Hippos Search” Isn’t that awesome and promising? It’s our call!

I have come up with my own proverb that goes by “As elusive as pygmy Mafia Island hippos.”
See you in MAFIA ISLAND coming Easter.

Note: Tanzania has lot of world heritage sites, and we have been depending on tourism for foreign exchange. We want to keep on gaining and benefit from these natural resources for today and the future ahead. After saying so I argue you to be a responsible tourist so that we can enjoy the natural wonders by conserving them and passing them on to the next generations. Thank you for your understanding.

Read More

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Macon Dunnagan, and two others are appointed by Tanzania as the U.S. "Goodwill Ambassadors of Tourism."

| |

Thank you Hon.Amb. Kagasheki for your appointment of the three Goodwill Ambassadors to promote tourism to Tanzania in the United States. Am impressed with your decision in regard of Macon Dunnagan.  Macon Dunnagan is truly an ambassador at heart, I came to know about him on twitter. He is my follower and am following him back, ever since we got connected have learnt some things that he is doing for Tanzania. Very devoted and enthusiastic on what he loves most, hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. That is why he hold the records. Congratulations to you Macon Dunnagan and the other two, now that you are official I believe the best is yet to come.

Macon Dunnagan on the left doing what he love (Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro).
Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Honorable Ambassador Khamis S.Kagasheki, MP, announced the appointment of three Goodwill Ambassadors to promote tourism to Tanzania in the United States, Patrick Steenberge, President, Global Football; Macon Dunnagan, Kilimanjaro Expedition Director; and  Dr. Philip Imler, Founder and President, Seven Natural Wonders.

Hon.Amb. Kagasheki, in making the announcement, said that “Tourism is the leading earner of Foreign Exchange in Tanzania, and the United States is Tanzania’s most significant tourist generating market. For this reason, we recognize the pivotal role that Goodwill Ambassadors can have on impacting key agenda items of the country through marketing, promotion and facilitation of strategic partnerships in their special areas of influence.”

Each of the three Goodwill Ambassadors has already made a huge impact on Tanzania Tourism. Patrick Steenberge, President of Texas-based Global Football, was the visionary who brought the first ever college American football game played on African soil to Tanzania in May of 2011. The game itself, played between Drake University from Iowa and an all-star team from the CONADEIP conference of schools in Mexico, generated enormous press coverage including ITV Tanzania, ESPN Magazine and a 45-minute documentary broadcast on CBS Sports Network. But the true highlight was the goodwill and friendships that were created when the players and their families and friends who joined them in Tanzania, completed a charity climb of Kilimanjaro and participated in volunteer projects to benefit the local communities. The visiting players and coaches also held American football clinics to introduce more than 500 local youngsters to the sport.  The impact in the sports world and in the communities is on-going for Tanzania and Global Football is planning a second game and philanthropic visit to Tanzania in the near future.

Macon Dunnagan, based in Charlotte, North Carolina is the Kilimanjaro Expedition Director for Zara Tours and has led many charity climbs up Kilimanjaro. He has climbed “the Roof of Africa” 26 times, and by September 2013 will have completed his 30th summit. He is also the current record holder for climbing Kilimanjaro four times in 28 days and has used his position to raise funds for Ovarian Cancer Canada’s "Expedition of Hope" and the Rotary District 7680’s "End Polio Now". In 2001, Dunnagan published his first book Sons of Kilimanjaro and has been a frequent speaker behalf of Tanzania at trade shows throughout the  US.

Dr. Philip Imler, Founder and President, Seven Natural Wonders, was in Tanzania in February to announce Serengeti National Parkas the number one winner for Africa in a worldwide voting campaign for the “Seven Natural Wonders of Africa”. Tanzania’s world famous Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in Africa and the Ngorongoro Crater were also among the top winners for Africa. The contest, and Tanzania being the only country with the most winning nominations, generated enormous prestige and publicity for Tanzania Tourism.

Read More
Karibu Bongo (c) 2013. Powered by Blogger.