I have travelled from Arusha to Mtwara. It has been a long journey. It took about two days to get here. Mtwara is on the south east coast of the country, just north of Mozambique, aka very far away. It feels good to be here. It’s definitely different from the city. Much more underdeveloped and the people are much nicer.
I will be spending a month and a half in Mtwara working with Pride Fm in the newsroom and collecting stories from farmers for Farm Radio International.
Today I met my colleagues at the radio station. They are definitely a fun bunch. We went to the village to collect stories. It took about two hours by bus to get there. Everyone chanted the whole way there. I tried to sing along to the Tanzanian tunes, putting together the words in Swahili.
Along the dirt word, we passed the Indian Ocean, mud houses and hundreds of palm and Baobab trees. Kids were playing with spare tires and mothers were tending to their goats while balancing baskets full of fruit on their heads.
The village we visited is called Mtuli Hinju. I shadowed along a journalist that told me most of the women struggle to have access to medicine. They opened a facility in the village but they do not have enough money to run it. This makes it difficult for women to give birth.
The Pride Fm team also documented the challenges people face in having access to clean water, food and school. We’ll be making weekly trips to the villages to find stories for the news program.
But that wasn’t the only purpose of our “safari” to the village. After eating a local meal with my hands and sucking on an orange I bought for 100 Tanzanian shillings, the equivalent of 10 cents, we watched a soccer match. The radio station’s team played against the local team.
Tanzanians are crazy for “soka.” We were on a field, surrounded by fence made of palm tree leaves. The whole village was there to watch. There were about 400 of them. The men stayed on one side and the women and children stayed on the other.
The energy was incredible. I danced to the rhythm of the drum, shouted with all my might and tried to soak in all the smiles and stares from the children.
The village children don’t get to see a lot of ‘mzungus,’ white people, as the locals like to call me. It was quite an experience meeting all of them. When they saw me they were unsure at what they were looking at. They looked at me in awe and when I took a step towards them they got scared and huddled away. But after some time, they warmed up to me. By dawn, the children were affectionate and curious.
The sun started to set and the game was tied. The whole village danced their way out of the field. By now the sky was full of stars. The chants on the bus ride home continued.
The team chanted about how the ‘Mzungus,’ white people, were good luck and it’s because of them they scored. They also kept chanting about how the ‘Mzungus’ ate their local rice. Me and the only other white person there chanted back! Mchesa Vizuri! Ninapenda Rice!! We chanted over and over again. You played well! We love your rice! The whole bus burst into laughter. They didn’t expect the white girls to chant back!
Tomorrow I have the day off to explore Mtwara. It definitely has a different vibe than Arusha. This is a coastal town and instead of mountains and green lush, there are coconuts and sand beaches.
Speaking of sand beaches, it’s time for the ‘mzungu’ to go for a swim.
Tutaonana! See you later!