Thursday, 27 October 2011
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Thursday, 10 September 2009
It’s time to head back to Dar es Salaam, Salim arrives at 10 and we pack up, we call into MCP to say our goodbyes and hit the road. We stop off to see the carver near Kilwa, he gives Martin the mpingo medicine and we buy some of his work, he’s delighted. It looks to me he hasn’t sold anything since we were there 2 days ago and we nearly buy up his whole stock. Martin is really impressed with his turning skills. We get back on the road, the unmade section seems especially tiring this time, and so long, it feels as if my skeleton needs to be pulled back together. Progress through traffic in Dar is slow, and we eventually make it to Focus’ shop at 6pm. He is waiting for us, and presents us both with a sculpture he has made from our mpingo log, mine is a modern version of the traditional man and woman sculpture you associate with African carving. It reminds me of a Lowrie picture, it’s a work of art. He also gives us a Karibu, welcome sign, We buy some gifts in the shop and then say our last goodbyes to Focus, and head for CEFA for our last night in Tanzania, at dinner we see our friend Daniel, and meet a man from Norwich who has just arrived, we share with him the knowledge we have gained in the last week, we have learnt a lot.
We meet Salim at 5.30 am and head for the airport. Once we say our goodbyes to Salim we head through to our gate. I interview Martin in the lounge and we board the plane for the ten hour flight ahead, After a few hours we see the Sahara desert below, it seems to go on and on and on. I begin to get the same feeling I got when I returned from Greenland, a longing for the sight and smell of a rose, it’s almost like a mirage. I never realised I had such an attachment to roses before this summer, and it strikes me as strange the accumulated sensations that make up the experience we call home.
Today is rest day, a time to reflect, and sit by the ocean. Although I’m not a fan of beach life, this is pretty good, and it’s a perfect way to recharge before the next few days of travelling. I get up early and watch the sunrise, I am joined by a man who tells me he is a soldier guarding the beach, we exchange pleasantries and for some reason he thanks me for telling him my name, I’m not sure why. At 7 he leaves, I assume it’s the end of his night shift, he tells me to be careful on the beach, careful of the people from the town who walk along here during the day. I guess crime maybe a problem, there’s a marked difference between this environment to that of the town and the villages we’ve been visiting in the last few days. This is a tourist place, with tourist prices. Over the past week I have been very surprised by the disparity of cost it’s as if there is a two tier system, I’m struggling to understand how it works. It has not been cheap, yet a lot of the people earn very little. As a rough gauge, I paid for dinner for 6 people in Dar at a posh restaurant and it cost me around $100, and in Kikole the average yearly wage is around $250, it doesn’t add up.
So I sit on the beach all day there’s no trouble, I watch local men sift the beach for shellfish, I am passed by a group of girls singing, a group of boys with sticks doing what boys with sticks do. A few people have come to sell their wares, some brightly coloured woven mats and small carvings. Yes today I am a tourist, it’s a far cry from the past week.
I am struggling to absorb my experiences, I have recorded many hours of material, and when I get home I will start condensing, sifting, chopping, carving, sculpting and making sense of it all and then sharing this journey as a radio programme, I feel heavy with responsibility but excited at the prospect of being able to get creative.
I wake up (not so early!) this has been the best nights sleep I have had since leaving London. As I get up I can a screeching sound in the middle distance. Jonas says this is a hyena. We go to the village for our breakfast – ginger tea and donuts. Our host asks me what religion I am. I say ‘I suppose I’m Christian, but not practising’ he says don’t you worry what will happen when you die? I say ‘ this is a big question – and will take a long time to discuss’ People are obviously very religious in these parts and I respect that, and am happy to wear long sleeves etc, but I did find one of the songs performed in Ruhawte quite troubling – apparently it’s meaning is that you catch AIDS from women who where revealing clothes. But as far as I’m aware you catch AIDS from people who have AIDS, and their mode of dress is unlikely to make much difference.
After breakfast we pack away our camp for the last time and drive the 6km to the forest with 3 of the villagers. We have a good walk through the forest. it’s very beautiful and we see many mpingo trees, young seedlings and older specimens marked to be harvested, we notice damage caused by elephants and fire. We are led to the trees that have been harvested and stamped with the FSC mark, the first tree we see has been cut into logs, I ask Martin how many flutes he thought he could make from this one tree. He estimates roughly 200 to 300, I ask how many days work this would be for him – he estimates about 5 years, the villagers are astonished.
We head back to the car, Salim has collected some elephant dung for a friend, I think it is for medicine. We head back to the village and pack away our camp, say our goodbyes, pay our dues and head back to Kilwa. On the way we stop at a carvers, his work is much simpler than the work in Mwenge in Dar, but I really like it. He’s made cups and bangles and wine goblets. We talk to him about mpingo medicine, he says he’ll make some for Martin from the leaves of the tree if we call back on Monday.
So we reach Kilwa – have lunch and then I interview Jonas. Jonas is a very knowledgeable and hardworking man, he teaches 6 villages about forestry management and seeing the work in Kikole it’s obvious he does it well. This marks the end of my offical recording, and I’m feeling relieved, and happy it’s gone so well. We head back to the hotel and I have the best shower I have ever had! Later that evening we meet Jonas and the district forestry officer in a bar for dinner, before they arrive, Martin remembers that he’s left something at the hotel, I say him and Salim should go back and I will wait for Jonas, Salim says he can’t leave me here on my own as it’s not safe. I guess this is because I am a woman, I don’t like the idea that I am not safe for 10 minutes on my own here, it’s not something I’m used to, and it makes me value the independence I have at home.