View of an Outpost

My brother wants to know what an Outpost looks like. He says pictures tell a thousand words. I think he is politely asking that I describe with my camera and not with the keyboard. He once queried why I used 2,000 words when two would do. He’s right.

Hat and I do school every morning whilst Orlanda – who began life as Orlando until the vet when asked to please come and remove the bits and pieces that makes Toms spray and stray told us s/he didn’t have any – lazes in the dugout by the pool watching lizards whilst she sunbathes. When Hat and I are battling with grammer or science we wish we were cats too.


 When we’re done, though, with battling, we sometimes escape to ‘town’. We drive down our little potholed lane which joins the road at a roundabout which is alternately – depending on the time of year – festooned with flamboyant blossom or yellow cassia.

                    my-lane.jpg       fabulous-flamboyant.jpg

And into town, past the old art deco cinema, which is now a bus station, past the old Sikh temple and up the road that leads to the catholic church: religions jostle happily here for space and voice. Perhaps the Outpost could be an example to the rest of the world: the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times a day and the church choir does their best to outshout them on Sundays. It’s merry rivalry though.

                the-bus-station.jpg        1927.jpg       


 We go over the railway line which is what brought this tiny place populace and prosperity back in its 1920s hayday, and across to the market where we haggle for spuds and onions. I feign indignance at the price of carrots, ”that’s the white price”, I say, ”what’s the Tanzanian one?”. The vendors just laugh at me. They think I’m mad. Living here endorses that. 

Driving home I never fail to marvel at the old relics still standing: the German governor’s home, with its high platform from which they hoisted their flag.

         junction-city.jpg           tabora-market.jpg          


And Julius Nyerere’s alma mater, a beautiful elegant building reached by an avenue of flamboyant and surrounded by expansive grounds. Nyerere was the founder of independent Tanzania. He was nicknamed Mwalimu which means teacher for his energetic education reforms. His old school has alot to live up to. But it doesn’t: a friend has a daughter there; the teachers never turn up for work she says.


                      goat-on-a-bike.jpg         shopping-under-shade.jpg

 We drive to the dam in the evenings. Out of town, past Africans coming home from market or setting up tiny roadside stalls selling a plethora of goods from clothes to baskets to combs to barbequed corn; Hat often scores a cob to keep her going till supper time.

And on the dam we walk the dogs and say hello to the totos tending goats or we inspect the fishermen’s catch.

                          sun-down-on-the-dam.jpg          herdsboys.jpg

 We drive home into the setting sun and the dust.

                    rush-hour.jpg          dust.jpg  

And might stop for a cold beer on the way, at the Tabora Hotel, its faded grandeur a lasting reminder of the colourful history of this place; it was built for the Kaiser when he said he was coming to visit. He never turned up. Lots of people don’t. Not to an outpost.  We’re just a little too far off the beaten track


14 Responses to “View of an Outpost”

  1. nuttycow Says:

    What a great post… and lovely pictures.

    Well done your brother for suggesting it! I particularly love rushhour… was that a jammed pack matatu I saw, steaming towards you?

  2. Irene Says:

    It;s great to see pictures of the place you live in. Now I have a better idea when you write about these things. It certainly is sunny and dusty and colorful there, but much prettier than I imagined. And more populated too.

  3. guineapigmum Says:

    I love the pictures. Really enjoyed this post. Have you thought of putting your pictures on Flickr? You can put loads in there very easily, then we can all go and look and enjoy and leave you flattering comments… And I’ve just figured out Bubbleshare which lets you put a slide show in your post.

  4. R. Sherman Says:

    Thanks for the photos. They help give us a picture to go with your words.


  5. Expatmum Says:

    Ooh, how lovely. I’m sure it must feel remote at times, (?) but it’s different.

  6. Maggie May Says:

    Many thanks for the pictures, helps to visualize your descriptions. If anything your habitat looks more populated than I had imagined.
    I am glad your brother wanted to see picture, because now we can all share.

  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thanks all.

    nuttycow: a matatu? nope. We don’t have them where I live. But a lorry packed with passengers. Which almost amounts to the same thing, doesn’ it?

    Irene – it is pretty isn’t it? And yes, sunshine. Lots of that.

    thanks for the tip guineapigmum. I’m glad you liked the pix. Now I need to go figure how to use flickr and bubbleshare… being a technophobe I’ll fail, doubtless.

    Thanks Mr Sherman. Yup, expatmum, it is remote. Very cut off

    Maggie, thank you. The population is almost entirely built on the back of the tobacco industry around here. It serves as a focal point for work and trade and transport. When the farmers have been paid for crops (it’s markets now), the population swells further because everybody’s got money to spend. We are so cut off from the rest of the country and yet there’s this huge population that comes from nowhere because of the baccy.

  8. Tom Says:

    Thanks for the pictures, it does help to visualise the Outpost. I’m glad that you and Hat can enjoy a cold beer at the Tabora. You’re such a good mom.

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Oh. badly phrased I think Tom. She has coke. As in Coke Cola … her dad and I are the cold beer drinkers …

  10. Kiki Says:

    Really enjoyed your descriptions! I lived with my parents in Tabora in 1978, and it sounds like it has not changed at all! Is the sports/tennis club still operating? and the cinema with battered old seats? It really is a remote place, character building!

  11. TonyCraddock Says:

    We lived in Tabora from 1952 to 1956. Our father was the Area Surgeon for the (then) Central Province, working for the Colonial Medical Service. The two eldest children (me and my sister) went to boarding school at Southern Highlands School nr. Iringa, then back to boarding school in the UK. My EAR&H Website has some of the railway photos I took when I was there as I was a steam train enthusiast. Email me at craddock_at_westdot net if you get this. Doesn’t look like the place has changed since we were there! I would love to get a photo of our old house on Boma Road.

  12. Keren McCullagh Says:

    Tony Craddock’s sister Keren talking. Polio swept through Tabora in 1953 (Coronation year!) which lwas devastating and eft me with spinal problems ,a weak leg and increasing difficulties in later years. My parents were determined that I should continue at the Tabora Primary School, under the tutelage of Mrs Williams & Co (I think I may still have a class photo with younger brother Quentin). So on we went. My parents drove me up to the Boma from where we lived, turn sharp right to the school and drop me off. My limbs were very weak At the end of the school day, the houseboy would push a tricycle up to the boma to the school, and leave it outside. I would cruise downstairs at breakneck speed home.

    I later married an Australian, and settled in Perth on the west coast after much travelling, including 10 years shared in part with older brother Tony in Libya.

    One of my teachers at that Tabora Primary School, Joan Smith, had also settled in Perth with her husband Francis who was then known as ‘Beeswax Smith’ because of his knowledge of entomology. I reconnected with her when she wrote her memoirs of living in Tabora. I have a copy which includes an episode which features my mother Barbara Craddocks.

    Memories indeed!

  13. paul woods Says:

    Very interesting to see your photos. Tabora doesnt seem to have changed much since I taught English at the College of National Education for two years from 1977 to 79 before being transferred for a further 2 years to Tukuyu. I stayed in the railway hotel for a couple of weeks when I first arrived in Tabora. It was usually the only place in town where you could buy bottled beer, and even then you were only allowed a beer for each dish you ordered from the restaurant. We only got running water about once a month, usually in the middle of the night! Have things improved? There was a railway club where we played tennis. I remember one time when the beer had long since run out, we had drunk all the Dodoma wine, and the only thing left to drink which was alcoholic was some pink Lanson champagne they had forgotten about for years in a cellar. Some of the bottles had gone off but most were eminently drinkable, though not very effective at quenching one’s thirst. The college was militarised and the students spent 2 days a week onmilitary exercises, plus several weeks a year digging planting andharvesting millet,which didnt leave much time for academic study!

  14. anunexpectedjourneyawomansrole Says:

    Reblogged this on An Unexpected Journey: A Woman's Role and commented:
    Fascinating pictures

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