Monthly Archives: March 2016

Wow, that is Namibia!?

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

We had been looking forward to visiting Namibia for a very long time ... But, is Namibia really on the same continent as all the other countries we have visited during the last few months? As early as Zambia we had recognized that the appearance of the streets was much more cleaner and that life seemed to be following a more "organized" pattern than in many parts of East Africa (surely, this "order" is a two-edged thing!) ... But this impression definitely is topped in Namibia - right on the first few kilometres in the road: nearly "typically German", "fastidiously accurate" many roads and towns seem to be at first glance. Especially so Windhoek and Swakopmund (we will describe these two towns in detail soon). No, no matter how you look at it, Namibia cannot deny that between 1889 and 1915 it was a German colony. In contrast to Bagamoyo in Tanzania, the houses from that time are being maintained and smartened, roads bear German names, but also African ones; alongside South African and "traditionally" African dishes in many places you can get real German food. Even though to us non-colonialist Germans this seems really strange, still our daughters are especially happy about this ... finally, they can enjoy "Spätzle", "Apfelmus", German "Bratwurst" and so on.

 

Boerewors ... even better than German "Bratwurst"!

 

But even Mischa is very enthusiastic, because in Namibia - apart from German "Weizenbier" - you can probably get the best meat worldwide ... at incredibly reasonable prices. The barbecue-season, Sorry!, "Braai"-season is there finally! And when we are on the road we nibble delicious "Padkos" such as "Biltong", the famous dried meat, and "Droewors", a really delicious dry sausage made from game and beef. Lekker!

...

But how were our first kilometres on Namibian roads? From the Victoria-Falls near Livingstone in Zambia we enter Namibia in the so-called "Caprivi-Strip", named after the German chancellor Graf Leo von Caprivi. This stretch of land was planned to become part of a landbridge from German South West Africa (now Namibia) to German East Africa (now Tanzania), and when the European powers sat over the map to divide the "African cake", this stretch was one of the "cream puffs" the German chancellor could snitch. Today, this part of Namibia is officialy called "Zambesi-Region". We stop at the N'Kwazi Lodge situated a few km out of Rundu, directly on the banks of the Okawango River.

 

Dinner directly at the Okavango River ... really romantic!

 

As since shortly after we had crossed the Tanzanian-Zambian border our front prop shaft had made strange twittering noises (by the way, this is an after market part and not a Land Rover one!), we are very happy to have reached this place ... By chance, the owner of this lodge is also a Land Rover owner and advises us to take out the prop shaft and have it sent to the experts in Windhoek ("Propshaft Engineering") instead of driving there with a prop shaft we know is not working properly ...

Taking out the prop shaft ...

... thanks to the "4-w-n mechanics team" Anouk and Mischa!

 

No, the prop shaft is not moving smoothly any more!

 
 

We have our prop shaft back ... after only 47 hours! Get that, Deutsche Post!

 

We follow his advice and do exactly this. After only 47 hours after taking out the prop shaft, we have it repaired and back in our hands. Anouk and Mischa take care of removing it and fitting it back in. Pieter, the owner of the lodge is an immense help in organising all this! Thank you, Pieter!

 

A beautiful kingfisher!

 

Cormorants waiting for the fish ...

... still waiting!

 

... gorgeous!

 
 

Ah, yes, I forgot ... we briefly went to Angola, country # 16 on our list!

 

The "waiting period" we kill by going on a boat trip on the Okavango which is marking the border between Angola and Namibia, but we also have a great and delicious "Braai"-evening (while it is raining cats and dogs) together with the Danish globetrotter and journalist Hugo Gaarden.

Braaiing cats and dogs with Hugo ...

... another sad "Farewell"!

This again is one of these chance encounters which might be the beginning of great friendships. But on the following morning, we have to part with Hugo again - after having planned a meeting in either Germany or Denmark for this autumn.

After nearly a week at the N'Kwazi Lodge, another place we can only recommend to all overland travelers, we set course for "South-West" ... driving a "Nyati" which is running smooth and silent again.

 

A small African wild cat in the garden of N'Kwazi.

 
 

"Six en Piste" ... more new friends ... again from France!

 

We have a date with the French overlande-family Gueduet, aka "Six en Piste" and plan to meet at "Meteorite Campsite" near the Hoba-meteorite near Grootfontein.

What a beautiful light ...

... here comes the rain again!

"The French" have spent their last five years working in Cape Town and now travel trough southern Africa and South America for the nearly two years ... a family of six with a Toyota and an impressive offroad trailer made by the company Metalian from Cape Town.

 

Can we steal the French trailer overnight without them noticing???

 

We are impressed and this trailer will be our plan for our next trips when our Land Rover will not provide enough room for us two adults with two elder daughters. We definitely want exactly this trailer!

Roadschooling

We spend two wonderful days together, burn the midnight candle talking the night away and the kids play with each other boisterously so that in spite of differently planned routes we decide to find another camp for a couple of days together.

 

Our camp at "Zum Potjie"

 
 

Even Sóley has her tasks!

 

At "Zum Potjie" near Otavi we enjoy a lot of sunshine and impressively tender Oryx-Steaks from the Braai, relax in the pool ... and seem to have left the rain that had been following us for ages behind us finally. But sadly, this is where we part company because the "Six en Piste" plan to go up north to "Caprivi" and we want to go south and to the coast.

At an impressively great supermarket in Otjiwarongo we stock up on provisions to be able to wild camp several nights. But after only a few kilometres we find out that our alternator is not loading our battery any more. As around us there is only bush and small villages, we have to shift the helm and go to Windhoek full speed ahead because there we will definitely find somebody who can help us with our new car-problem. Our solar panel now is our rescue (in cooperation with the sun and the double battery system) and enables us to easily make the roundabout 270km (!) to Windhoek even without the alternator. But the backpackers that was recommended to us by other overlanders is completely booked out; something that so far on this trip has never occurred! But we have a contact in Windhoek we can call to find out which garage can help us fixing the Land Rover and maybe also find a good accomodation nearby. Stefanus van der Merwe, a Land Rover overlander from Windhoek, whom we had met at the Jungle Junction in Nairobi, had invited us to his parents home in Windhoek. We call ... and - as so very often on this trip - are recieved with great pleasure and warmth and are invited to stay at their home.

 

Debbie's "Children's Paradise"

 

Debbie, Stefanus' mother is nursery school teacher and has her own small play group in the courtyard of their house. Thus, our new "home" turns out to be a real "children's paradise". Because father Adriaan, also a real "Land Rover-Fan", is on a business trip, Debbie persuades us to stay longer until Adriaan is back to then look for a solution for our problem with the alternator ... and spend the next following weekend together with them on the family farm about 110km south west of Windhoek.

The old German church in Windhoek ...

... and the statue of Namibia's "founding father", Sam Nujoma.

Until then, we can use one of their "Bakkies" to discover Windhoek so that our Land Rover full of equippment is safe in the courtyard. This impressive warmness makes the decision making process easy and as a return, we try to give our best in doing culinary conjury tricks in return and prepare favourite dishes every evening. Ah, by the way: since we are in Windhoek our alternator miraculously is working without any problem ... we finally are not able to find the problem but still buy a spare alternator just to be on the safe side.

Very relaxed we can discover Windhoek, shop at "Cymot", a real paradise for overlander, anglers and other "bushies", and we also have our "manes" tamed. The German-Namibian (or is it the other way round?) hairdresser Sonja knows exactly what is happening in Germany, the home country of her great-grandparents, knows what weather is to be expected and what is on in politics.

This diversity of the people in Namibia and the origin of their families really fits the unmistakeably charm of this beautiful and diverse country, Namibia!

So how was … East Africa?

Eine deutschsprachige Version dieses Eintrages gibt es hier

In the meantime, we have left East Africa, drove through Zambia and have reached Namibia ... time to reflect on and describe the differences between the two large African regions, Northern Africa and East Africa ...

After we had spent several months in Northern Africa, East Africa - beginning with Kenya - was very relaxing right from the border.

As beautiful as we think Northern Africa is and as intensive our encounters with its people in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were, as beautiful and impressive it was to again drive through an isolated and green landscape and being allowed to meet the open, relaxed and cheerful people along the roads.

 

What a relief! And not every square meter is inhabited!

 

That Kenya and Tanzania are somewhat different, we instantly realized when we saw so many "mixed" couples and families. Without wanting to accuse the people in Northern Africa as being racists, one can say that the more conservative orientation of the people in these countries rather leads to a situation that culture, religion, but also the colour of a person's skin often lead to segregation instead of supporting contacts.

Impressive for us were the big shopping malls in Kenya which reminded us rather on the US than on Africa. The security guards with their automatic guns searching us for hidden weapons at the entrances and exits did in no way disturb, upset or frighten us. After in Northern Africa - even though we are quite open when it comes to different food - we had really missed especially cheese, sausages and good meat, but also chocolate and good wine, suddenly we were back in a culinary paradise. In spite of the high level of prices we indulged in French and Swiss cheese again ...

 

Our only cheese in Ethiopia ... brought from home by Mischa's mother.

 

But, in Tanzania - apart from the very few exceptions in the (very few) supermarkets in Arusha, Tanga and Dar es Salaam - the supply situation with familiar European groceries was a thing of the past again. And even in the supermarkets in these cities, what was offered was rather poor ... and expensive (i.e. a piece of the cheapest Gouda cheese sometimes was over 10€!)! At the same time, it is possible to get fresh fruit and vegetables at nearly every corner and also basic foodstuffs such as pasta and rice.

In addition to the high level of prices, also the national park fees have really surprised and startled us: if you want to enter the world famous Ngorongoro Crater with your own car and two children (in our case one of the cildren being below five years of age and thus free of charge), you have to pay a solid US$530 to US$580 PER DAY for entry (including entry to the crater itself), the car and camping. Absolutely ridiculous!

 

The Ol Doinyo Lengai ... near the Ngorongoro but less crowded and less expensive!

 

Tourists should try to inform themselves about other national parks and maybe decide on visiting these smaller and less touristy parks such as the Ruaha National Park, where you maybe see less animals at the same time, but don't have to share your experiences with a dozen of other safari vehicles full of other tourists taking photos of the same pack of lions at the waterhole. In East Africa tourism seems to be concentrating nearly completely on the high-priced segment of Safari-tourism and thereby completely neglecting the individual tourists. But exactly in the individual segment of tourim intercultural encounters and connected with that cultural exchange and understanding are more "normal" than in the rather "posh" segment, where you nearly rarely have an eye-level communication between guest and employee. A rather high percentage of the money spent for these holidays will end up in the hands of the owners of big international hotel and safari businesses. Individual tourists on the contrary buy most of what they need at the smaller markets, in small shops and thus spend their money where it should go to and where it is needed: with the "ordinary people" ...

Encounters ... How to make Swahili Crayfish

Encounters ... Meeting Adam Mkwawa, the Chief of the Hehe.

But especially because of this difference, individual tourists will quite often get preferred treatment by the "locals" and there are uncountable chances of intensive personal encounters. There are always at least two sides to each story!

One aspect everybody warned us against before traveling to Africa and especially to East Africa was the supposed corruption of policemen and military in Kenya and Tanzania. But - was it luck? - we didn't experience even one awkward encounter with members of these groups of persons. On the contrary, we were always treated corteously and friendly, sometimes even amicably. In Tanzania this might be because John Magufuli, the new president, has taken the cause of fighting the corruption in his country and the wealth grab of certain groups of persons connected with that..

 

John Magufuli, President of The Republic of Tanzania (source: www.bloomberg.com).

 

But he has made several other right decisions: He has, for example, reduced the costs for the celebration of the country's independence from a planned US$ 100,000 to only US$ 7,000. Politicians cannot travel abroad with a large entourage at government expense anymore, but have to use economy tickets and all international travel of civil servants has to be authorized personally by the president himself. Those who do not follow this doctrine are fired! Due to this policy, slowly but steadily the government coffers are filling and the money can be invested in hospitals, schools and in an improvement of the infrastructure. Every Saturday all civil servants have to collect garbage on the streets and in the countryside to make their mother country more beautiful. ... Corruption or personal enrichment of civil servants also lead to a prompt dismissal. Everywhere in Tanzania we have met people who felt encouraged by their president and there is a great spirit of optimism. The new president's popularity especially with the ordinary people is immense! In some way the policy of the new president has a rather unifying effect on Tanzania's inhabitants. Does this development in Tanzania lead to a respective media coverage in Europe? We don't know but fear that the majority of news are still negative, simply because they sell better.

...

Looking back on East Africa, we can say that Kenya and Tanzania have impressed us so deeply and were so wonderful to travel in that we can more than imagine coming back and discovering these two countries in more detail at some other point in time.

 

Zambia …

Did we know anything about this country before visiting? No, not really!

Our first impressions - after the border! - were quite good: good roads (with only a few potholes) and very clean ... Everybody we met on the road was very friendly and spoke English quite well.

 
 

As we had this squealing, twittering noise coming from the front part of our Land Rover, we wanted to go to "Foleys Land Rover Specialists" as soon as possible, as they have a very good reputation and would certainly be able to help us with our problem. This meant that Zambia would be more of a transit country, as Foleys is in Livingstone, just next to the borders with Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

We stayed one night in the "Mapontela Guesthouse" in Serenje and one on the "Moorings Campsite", both places we would recommend (reasonable prices, clean and quiet), and then moved on to Livingstone near the famous Victoria Falls.

As tiny hostel rooms in Livingstone for us four would have been between US$60 and US$80 per night, we tried to find something else and found "Mose Street Apartements", a place, where local tourists would go. From our perspective this is "the" place in Livingstone for overlanders, as they have small flats with bathroom and small kitchenette for one up to six persons at a very reasonable price (we paid 600Kwacha, about 48 € per night, and the room is cleaned every day and so is the car!) and the car is parked in a walled courtyard guarded 24/7 ...

 
 

At Foleys, they perfectly serviced our Land Rover (84€ and that included new engine and gearbox oils but not the filters, which we had still onboard). The "twittering-squealing-problem" turned out to be the double-cardonic (front) prop shaft which has to be fitted in a "Puma" you want to give it a suspension lift. As the spares Foleys could get would not be of a good quality, they told us to rather go to Namibia, maybe as far as Windhoek, and have it repaired or replaced there. What an honest garage! We would always recommend Foleys to every Land Rover owner traveling through Africa! They are very thorough, maybe even more thorough than many garages in Germany.
...

Being in Livingstone, you can't not go to the Vistoria Falls ... and we can tell you: they are really impressive! You can even see the spray from kilometres away.

 

"Mosi-oa-Tunya", in English "The "Victoria Falls" ... So impressive due to the heavy rainfalls in this part of Africa.

 
 

Sometimes you can't see anything because of the "fog".

 

Vic Falls - the "other side".

... relatively peaceful ... but you can see the spray coming up.

We can imagine that this place must have been pure magic for the people who lived here before the Europeans came to Africa. "The Smoke that Thunders" still is magic and simply very impressive ... we were quite rain-experienced by then, but here, the "four dimensional rain" really is coming from all sides ...

 

The Vic Falls are great ... but at some point in time we want to experience Africa without rain again!

 
 

The "Victoria Falls Bridge", constructed in England and completed in 1905, crosses the Zambezi linking Zimbabwe on one side and Zambia on the other.

 

After a great week in Livingstone (good shopping facilities and the museum is quite nice), we went on to Namibia ...

Of loving borders … and rain in Africa!

In one of the songs our children love, it says "In Africa it is so hot ...!". Is it!? Really?!

No, it is NOT! Since Ethiopia it has been raining almost all the time - at least that is how we feel! Why is it that whenever us nomads go to whatever place that people tell us that this week, month, year et cetera the rains and thunderstorms are somewhat different than "normally"! We had exactly that in the Pyrenees, in the Carpathians and now ... in Africa! ...

 

Traveling with Swiss friends we built this Land Rover Castle on our way to the Carpathian Mountains in Summer 2014.

 

Yes, we know that there is a thing called "rainy season", but this doesn't mean rain all day ... more or less for days on end! Well, that is the way it is, but we wanted to escape the rains ... "In the south, there is a draught!", somebody said!

 
 

Mischa wanted to go south fast, so he got his first speeding ticket in Tanzania on the way from Mbeya to the border ... No problem with the police though - all very nice, receit and everything, no bribe! IT WAS HIS FIRST SPEEDING TICKET EVER! Can you believe it!? ... When at that morning Nici at "Kisolanza" Farm, where we stayed two nights (a great place to stay, by the way!), had warned us that especially on this route, there would be myriads of policemen just waiting for issuing speeding tickets, Mischa had proudly stated that he never ever got a speeding ticket so far! Haha, he lost clean slate!

 

Our nicest border until we reached Namibia!

 

Borders! Everybody says that the borders are getting better the more to the south in Africa you come, and actually this is right ... generally! At the border between Tanzania and Zambia, the rains had just stopped (briefly!) and Mischa went out to follow his usual procedure: first immigration to get the exit stamps and then customs to get the carnet stamped out. No need to use the fixers which stick to you like flies do with sh**!

 

 
 

Oh, I forgot the Massai ladies in Tanzania ...

Kamal, our customs broker on the Egyptian side of the Egyptian/Sudanese border.

Magdi, our customs broker for the Sudanese side ... we had a wonderful time with him and his family!

Apart from Alexandria and the border between Egypt and Sudan, where we used the help of customs brokers who were respectable people and did a great job for us, at all other borders the fixers and the money changers really were extremely annoying even though we know that for them this is a way of earning money and they all are registered and have a permit for what they are doing. They follow you, you tell them that you don't need their services, still they follow you, do nothing for you because you don't let them and at the end they expect money for their "services"! Why use (and pay!) somebody you don't need!?

Anyway, in spite of the "flies" buzzing around us, at this special border everything seemed to go really smooth: passport stamps, then the carnet and off we went to the Zambian side.

For what comes now, I have to first explain that in Germany children's passports only have a very limited number of pages. So, we got new passports in advance in Germany to be used when the old ones are full. This is completely legal (even though your local city council might not know it and downright tell you that you are wrong ... don't let them win!)! As when we entered Tanzania, the border officials told us that our children's passports were full now. Now, in Zambia, we used the new ones AND also showed the old ones. As they are biometric there is no way of saying that they are fakes (so at least they could not suspect our kids of being spies for, say the Americans ... or the Absurdistanians!). Guess what came now! The Zambian immigration officers did not want to stamp an entry stamp into a new passport which doesn't have an exit stamp from the previously visited country. "Go back to Tanzania to have the exit stamp transferred to the new passports!", they said.

Seeing everything from a bird's perspective it would have been a wonderful picture: you could see Mischa running from the Zambian side to the Tanzanian ... only to be told that they would not do it ... then back to the Zambian ... who again said that they would not do it, so did their superior ... "Ah, no, our boss might do it, but today is a Sunday, so you will have to come back tomorrow!" ... "But we can't re-enter Tanzania, because we would need an exit stamp of Zambia!" ... so back to Tanzania, begging, asking for the superior ... "On a Sunday?" ... "No way!" ... so, back to Zambia, where the immigration officers suddenly didn't think the old kids passports were full and stamped their entry stamp on a page which legally was not reserved for visa. ... Problem NOT solved! Especially as we know that Namibia and South Africa are extremely strict with immigration, passports and children.

Different thoughts were going around and around in our heads: "Does this mean that our Transafrican adventure is over???" "What will "they" do with us if the country which we have just exited would not let us in again (because we do not have an exit stamp of the next country which we could not enter because of a full passport)?" "They"!?, Who will be responsible for us then, the officials of the country we have just left or the ones we intend to enter but can't?" "Us"?! No, only the kids! Does that mean that one of us will have to fly home with the kids and the other will have to continue to somwhere where we can meet again after having used the new passports for flying there?" "Shall we just cross the Zambian-Namibian border and wait and see what happens?" "Shall we go to the German Embassy in Lusaka and ask for assistance there?"

So, before getting stuck in "no man's land" between Zambia and Namibia, maybe in the rain, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia. "No problem!", they said, "Just go to the headquarters of the immigration department in Lusaka and have the entry stamps officially transferred to the new passports!" Lusaka was on the way we wanted to take, but actually, we did not really want to into town! Especially not in that rain!

 

The most beautiful speeding ticket ... we will frame it! ... But just read what the police woman wrote on top!!! LAND CRUISER!!!!!

 

Mischa wanted to make haste ... and guess, what happened: he got his second speeding ticket, this time in Zambia (and what a beautiful one, too!) ... two speeding tickets within 48 hours!

Anyway, we did exactly what the embassy told us - in the rain - and, three hours later after writing a (typed!) explanation of our situation, we had the stamps transferred into the kids' new passports without a problem. Later, when crossing the Zambian-Namibian border, it was no problem at all for the officials in Namibia, the new passports were fine and we didn't even have to show the old ones!

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Here is the text of the letter we wrote, just in case you want (or have) to do the same ...

...

Names of parents                                                                Date

Residential address: ...

Email: ...

Currently traveling in ...

 

 

To whom it may concern,

 

we hereby kindly request the entry stamps for Zambia (as stamped on the ... (date) at the Tanzanian/Zambian border post of Nakonde) in our two daughters' old passports

name daughter one, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

name daughter two, dob, pob (old passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

to be transferred to their new passports

name daughter one (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date)

and

name daughter two (new passport: passport number, date of issue, place of issue, expiry date).

The old passports (numbers as stated above) are full due to the fact that since the 10th July 2015 we as a family have been traveling overland by car (make of car, rego) through countries visited so far. In Germany children's passports do not have enough pages for the visa needed for a Transafrican journey, so the German passport authorities issued new passports for our two children to be used when the old ones are full. The old passports thus become invalid but will have to be forwarded at request to any customs ifficial to accompany the new passports and prove the route of the travel. Also, for the next following countries to bevisited (namely, countries to be visited on the onward journey) the passports need two blank pages each for the visa. to make sure that we are not stuck in "no mans' land" between the borders of Zambia and Namibia after having exited Zambia, we contacted the German Embassy in Lusaka who kindly informed us to request this transfer of the Zambian entry stamps in person at the Headquarters of the Department of Immigration of the Republic of Zambia which we hereby do.

We thank you for your help and support,

Yours sincerely,

(names, dob, pob, passport numbers)

From the Swahili Coast to the lands of the Hehe

 
 
 

Traditional fishing boats

 

The coast between Tanga and Dar es Salaam really is a wonderful place.

 

1,5 kgs of fresh crayfish directly from the local fisherman ... gorgeous!

 

You can indulge in fresh seafood, relax at the beach and swim in an ocean which has nearly bath tub temperature ... That's why we spent more time there than we had actually planned beforehand.

But also the places we stayed at were simply great.

 

The view from our camp at "Peponi Beach".

 
 

Our camp as seen from the beach.

 

Beach impression

Beach impression

 

An interesting procession ...

 

... majestic!

One of our favourite campsites in Africa so far definitely is "Peponi Beach" in Pangani just south of Tanga. This place is so very relaxed, the owner and staff are extremely friendly and helpful and you can camp directly behind the beach ... we spent nine days - and still were very sad that we had to leave!

Cheaky Sóley!

Anouk wants this sea shell ... but the hermit crab doesn't want to let go!

For Bagamoyo, we tried to put down our impressions in a more poetical way because we felt that only that way of putting it can really transmit the atmosphere in this town (here you can read our post on Bagamoyo).

 

The "Firefly" in Bagamoyo

 

Mischa's office ... any questions!?

A good place to stay at in Bagamoyo is the just recently opened "Firefly", an old German house beautifully restored with nice rooms, a pool and small restaurant. The camping facilities between the house and the beach are still under construction ... it will surely become a great place when everything is finished.

Going on to Dar Es Salaam, we were caught in the traffic jams for many hours ... Mischa would rather again drive through Cairo, Khartoum or Nairobi instead of ever driving here again. What a Moloch of a city!

"A fairy fortress it is!", they told me!

The pool at "Mikadi Beach", a very important place for Anouk ans Sóley

"Mikadi Beach" might be one of the very few places where overlanders can enjoy a relatively relaxed stay near Dar. The place also is frequented by the big overland trucks, so sometimes it can be a bit noisy and touristy.

 

I think ladies driving a Landy are more than sexy!

 

Driving from Dar to the south-western part of Tanzania is relatively easy and the road conditions are OK.

 

Majestic!

 

On our way to Iringa, we drove through the Mikumi National Park and, as we were just transiting the park right before and during sunset, we saw a multitude of animals just next to the road.

We stayed for one night at the "Tan-Swiss Lodge", a place where it is possible to eat both traditionally Tanzanian and Swiss food ...

Just a few kilometres before reaching Iringa, we turned left into "Rivervalley Campsite". As the campground is far too wet to set up camp there and all bandas (i.e. huts) are occupied, Amanda, the owner of the campsite invites us to stay at her home.

 

"Mama" Amanda Philipps

 

"Mama" Amanda's house - thanks for inviting us!

Yet another great place for an office!

Land Rover lovers already!

This campsite again is one of our absolute favourites, not only because it is beautifully situated, but also because Amanda Philipps is so very much involved in the lives of both her employees and the people of the surrounding villages, that you can really delve deeply into the life around Iringa. If you want to learn Swahili, private Swahili lessons can be arranged directly on the campground!

Cooking the traditional way begins at the very beginning ... that is how you learn to respect food (and life!) ...

Yuuuk! We'd rather take the chicken meat from the supermarket!

 

Carrying goods the traditional way!

 

When we arrived, a group of students from an international school in England just worked on a project with one of the nearby village schools.

Beautifully designed classroom ...

... new design, windows, tables and chairs! Great work!

Tanzanian and international students working together hand in hand certainly is not only a great example of direct help, but also a way of creating intercultural encounters and relationships and thus ensuring bidirectional understanding ... The story of a 16-year-old English girl who used all her birthday money to sponsor goats for families with HIV-positive parents was simply touching!

Amanda is included in all kinds of other projects and knows a multitude of people in and around Iringa, so from connecting with the locals to anything the overlander needs, she can certainly help!

...

Because of Amanda we stumbled across a very interesting true story which actually sounds like taken from a fariy tale, bridging more than 120 years and connecting Tanzania and Germany. But, let's start at the beginning:

Chief "Mkwawa's" tale ...

Once upon a time in a continent called Africa there was a powerful chief bearing the name Munyigumba. Chief Munyigumba managed to unite over 100 clans of his people, the Hehe, and thus created a united Hehe nation, making it an equal among the other powerful tribes in eastern Africa. His people were originally farming their lands in a beautiful mountain landscape, but Munyigumba had them trained and soon they were famous and known as courageous and cunning warriors.

Sadly, Chief Munyigumba died early and the chiefdom was passed on to his eldest son Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamuyinga who then was only 24 years old.

 

A painting of Chief "Mkwawa" in the small museum at Kalenga.

 

His name Mkwavinyika, "conqueror of many coutries", would prove right, as the new chief continued the work his father had begun, extening his realm, winning wars against other people from the south, east and west, and manging to keep the famous Massai warrior-cattle-thieves at a safe distance to the north. His capital, Kalenga, he fortified with a long and high wall. Apart from training his people militarily, the wise new ruler also made sure that the watering of the farmer's fields was made more effective to secure future harvests and the prosperity of his people.

Then one day came when pale skinned strangers arrived from far away distant shores up in the cold cold north ... only to call the tribal territories their "own". Soon, the Hehe chiefdom was included into a newly established "colony" called "Deutsch Ostafrika", German East Africa. As the Germanic intruders with their strange tongue were not able to pronounce the chief's name, they called him "Chief Mkwawa", a name which would so soon become connected with grief and sorrow for his family and people.

The new rulers in the country feared the stubborn and fierce Hehe warriors and finally declared war upon them. But their 320 men were attacked by 3000 Hehe, who killed many even though they were armed only with spears and very few rifles. The Hehe finally won the fight, also killing the German officer in charge, Emil von Zelewski.

 

Mkwawa's state house at Kalenga village

 

The unbeaten "Mkwawa" still proudly resided in his capital undisturbed for some years but one day the enemy magaged to conquer his fortress and he had to go underground.

The Germans were looking for revenge and even put a price on his head.

Being supported by his people, "Mkwawa" began a campaign of guerilla warfare. He would suddenly appear at some place but like a ghost would vanish into thin air as suddenly as he came ... only to reappear at a very distant place only a few days later. Soon his name would be whispered with fear and awe among friend and foe, but especially among the new settlers from the cold cold north. The oppressors could not find him but knowing that his family would know about his whereabouts, put pressure on "Mkwawa's" mother. She, being as courageous and proud as her son, led the soldiers to a mysterious place called ... and told them that before showing them the whereabouts of her son she would have to perform a certain ceremony being naked.

 

Kikongoma, the place where "Mkwawa's" mother killed herself.

 

The prudish newcomers let her go to undress and perform her "ceremony" ... and nobody ever saw her again, as she had jumped into secret holes which were connected to an underground river to drown herself.

But the day came nearer when "Mkwawa" would finally meet his sad fate: he found himself being surrounded by his enemy and the only way out he saw was committing suicide using a German rifle not to fall into enemy hands alive.

The grave of "Mkwawa's" decapitated body.

The Germans could only get hold of his corpse. One of the German soldiers who had tried to find him for years and, being "far more developed" than the "black natives", in his rage that he could not kill the chief himself, cut off the chief's head to make sure that he would get the head-hunter fee ... with the blood money he later would set up a farm near Mt Kilimandjaro.

Chief "Mkwawa's" skull at the museum in Kalenga

A tooth from the skull used for a recent DNA test.

The chief's head traveled a long journey to the home of the oppressor only to be forgotten in the corner of a museum far away from his native Africa.

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Still, "Mkwawa"'s story would spread and his name would become more and more famous among Africans and Europeans alike to even be called the "Black Napoleon".

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"Mkwawa"'s son, grandson and great grandson alike would become chiefs of the Hehe after their fathers had died. The infamous reputation of their ancestor and his famous warriors created and still creates fear among other leaders whether they were German, English or are modern Tanzanian. The Germans took them to their home country, Germany and educated them, the English tried to pull them on their side in subsequent European tribal wars and modern politicians try to quieten them with money and a policy of "divida et impera".

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When finally the colonies were taken away from the Germans because they had lost a big tribal war in their home-continent, a big international contract was set up in which they were forced to hand back the chief's skull within six months. ... it took over half a century after "Mkwawa"'s death had passed for his head to be returned to his family and home country!

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Chief Adam at his inauguration ... on the same day when his father died.

 
 

Chief Adam and his great great grandfather chief "Mkwawa"

 

Today, the chief of the Hehe is a boy of fifteen years, the great grandson of chief "Mkwawa" ... Just like "Simba" in Walt Disney's "Lion King", one year ago he lost his father due to an unexpectedly early death. Unlike "Simba", he became the new chief of the Hehe on the very day when his father died, putting the responsibility of a tribe of about one million heads on his shoulders.

Does he have uncles just waiting for their chance to become chief as Simba's uncle "Scar" does? What are his modern enemies and challenges?

How will his story continue?

Chief Adam, two of his sisters and us.

Chief Adam and Mischa

 

Anouk holding Chief "Mkwawa's" shield.

 

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We want to thank the family of chief Mkwawa for sharing their stories and their time with us ... We enjoyed every minute spent with you and surely will meet again! Adam, we wish you all the best for your future and the future of your proud people!