Archive for December 14th, 2007

Wet Towels

December 14, 2007

Hat and I have finished school for the term. I don’t know how much she’s learned. So long as she enjoyed it. She sweetly tells me that her vocabularly is broader now that she’s homeschooled.   That’s not because I’m any great orator, but because Hat has a keen ear for new words.

She asks me, ”how do you spell schrewin, mum?”

How do you spell what!? I want to know.

”You know, schrewin

I don’t darling, no. I don’t even know what you mean.  Where have you heard the word used?

”You. When you say to me after I’ve had a shower, don’t leave your wet towel schrewin all over the floor”.

Oooooooooh! Strewn!

Today, we will drive 5 hours to Mwazna on Lake Victoria where we will spend the night, ready to collect Hat’s big brother and sister when they arrive by plane from their school in the north east of the country tomorrow morning. Hat is beside herself with excitement.

And I relish four weeks of picking those wet towels up.

Not always the middle of nowhere

December 14, 2007

I discovered this week that once upon a time the Outpost held a position of great importance.

The Arabs founded it, as a centre of trading – slaves and ivory – and enjoyed enormous wealth as a consequence. Most came from Oman and called their new home Kazeh. The Germans assumed control of the region in the late 19th century and made the town, which they renamed Weidmannsheil, an administrative centre for the Protectorate. Whipped by the Brits during the East African Campaign of WWI, they retreated but not before they’d minted a sovereign from local gold which is reputed to be the most beautiful seige coin ever minted. Few remain in existence. Those that do (one or two on Ebay) fetch as much as $10,000 at auction. Their value at the time was 15 Rupees.

By 1920 Tabora, as the Outpost became widely known then as it is now (except by me, on bad days, when it’s Bloodytabora) was the most populous town in then Tanganyika, with more inhabitants than Dar es Salaam, on the coast.

Who’d have thought it? Certainly not any of the tourists who drop in on their way to luxury camps in the west. As their light aircraft refuel on the small dirt strip they clamber out to stretch their legs, I have watched them. And overheard their observations.

Where the hell are we?

Dunno. Looks like the middle of nowhere.