Tuesday, December 31, 2013


On 2 February 2014, Grant and I and the Tanzanian Trio will celebrate our second anniversary in Tanzania. Although I've been here that long, apart from a short post on where we found ourselves (Mwadui) way back in the early, I've never written about Tanzania as a whole.  

As it's presently our first rainy season of the summer ,  I've been taking photos of puddles, of reflections in the puddles and also of the vast bodies of water across the road as we ride through the bush. Last Thursday we had a downpour of 35mm. On Saturday night after we'd finished our BBQ and the visitors had left, the heavens opened and we had a tropical storm which seemed to last the whole night. The next morning Grant measured 58mm in the pit. The rainy season was upon us!

Tanzania lies 33°  south  of the equator and on the whole enjoys a tropical climate, except in the high mountains (like Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru) where temperatures can get below freezing, especially at night.

Along the coast (Dar es Salaam), it stays quite hot and humid with heavy and reliable rainfall especially during the rainy season.

Tanzania has two rainy seasons.  Generally the heaviest rains (called masika) usually fall from mid-March to May and a shorter period of rain (called mvuli) from November to mid-January. The dry season, with cooler temperatures, lasts from May to October.

Mwadui, where we live, is 160km southwest of Mwanza

Tanzania is in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.

Tanzania's land boundaries are: Burundi 451 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 459 km, Kenya 769 km, Malawi 475 km, Mozambique 756 km, Rwanda 217 km, Uganda 396 km and Zambia 338 km.

Tanzania at 945,087 sq km, is more than twice the size of California, US. The terrain consists of plains along coast, a central plateau with highlands in the north and south. The climate varies from tropical along coast to temperate in the highlands. Tanzania's lowest point is at the Indian Ocean, 0 m; its highest point is Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro standing at 5,895 m. Tanzania is bordered by three of the largest lakes on the continent: Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake) in the north;  Lake Tanganyika (the world's second deepest) in the west; and Lake Nyasa (Malawi) in the southwest.
Just over 36.5 million people live in Tanzania. Life expectancy is around 44 years. Birth rate is on average 5.15 per woman. 8% of the population is believed to have HIV/AIDS. Literacy rate is just over 78%.

Languages spoken in Tanzania are Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education) and Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar) as well as many local languages.

Note: Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania. Although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources, including Arabic and English, and it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa. The first language of most people is one of the local languages.
Mainland - native African 99% (of which 95% are Bantu consisting of more than 130 tribes), other 1% (consisting of Asian, European, and Arab). Zanzibar - Arab, native African, mixed Arab and native African.

The religion on the mainland is: Christian 30%, Muslim 35%, indigenous beliefs 35%. Zanzibar is more than 99% Muslim.

Shortly after independence, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. One-party rule came to an end in 1995 with the first democratic elections held in the country since the 1970s. Zanzibar's semi-autonomous status and popular opposition have led to two contentious elections since 1995, which the ruling party won despite international observers' claims of voting irregularities.

Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for about half of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs 80% of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4% of the land area. Industry traditionally featured the processing of agricultural products and light consumer goods. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania's out-of-date economic infrastructure and to alleviate poverty. 

Growth in 1991-2002 featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals, led by gold. Oil and gas exploration and development played an important role in this growth. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private sector growth and investment. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported real GDP growth of more than 5.2% in 2004.

On a personal note, I have found that the Tanzanians are the most polite and friendly people I've met across Africa. They are very hard-working, very helpful and eager to please.  I could wax lyrical here giving examples, but as my post is very long now, I will write about this at a later date.

For the last posts of Our World Tuesday, 2013, please click here to access .


Source: Google

Monday, December 30, 2013

Weekend visit

On Saturday evening instead of going to the club, Grant and I invited Touro, his wife and two children over for a BBQ. Touro is the first Tanzanian Production Pit Supervisor in this company. When the position became vacant in August this year, Grant proposed Touro for the job. Appointing Touro in this position has been one of the wisest decisions that Grant and the higher Powers-that-be have made. Although humble from the top of his 6 foot frame to the tip of his toes, Touro is also no pushover. He has taken this responsibility most seriously; and although fair, hetakes no nonsense from his kinsmen. Grant has found that the morale of the production team has increased a hundredfold over the past six months.

This week, Touro's wife and two children, who live in Dar Es Salaam, came "home" to Mwadui for a visit. So it was the perfect opportunity for them to visit us.

They arrived at 6pm and we started off by sitting out in our enclosed garden where Grant had the BBQ fire going. At the moment we're in the middle of the wet season and any outdoor social event can be marred by a sudden downpour. Which is what happened. It started to rain, so we came indoors.

I'd bought a small gift for each of the children which Grant gave to them when we were all seated in the lounge. A doll and a container of toffees for five-year-old Bess, and a torch/flashlight and a container of toffees for Ivan who is ten.

While the children opened their gifts and we took photos, Grant went outside to check if the weather had cleared and it had! We all traipsed outdoors again and had a wonderful evening, eating, drinking sodas and chatting until after 8.30 pm.
Touro, his wife and children at our home on Saturday night

The rain stopped within minutes and we could go outside once more

Bibi Jo with Touro and family

I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas season and are looking forward to New Year celebrations.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Princess put in her place

Hi Bozo and mum's blogger friends. This is Ambrose posting the last post for the year. 

Life has been good this week as it's been all year for the Hedges Kitty Household. Last week I showed you the new pet: Princess the Pup. Although Princess doesn't come into the house, she come into our Kitty Shamba with Michael every morning. I feel as though I should be playing with Princess but when she comes too close, I still hiss at her. Unca Shadow gave her a smack yesterday which caused her to yelp (is that the same as a kitty meow?) Dad Ginger just looks at her with his serious look!
Princess in our Kitty Shamba

Also one day during the week, we were resting our day bed with Mama Chui/Tiger when we heard poor Princess yelping loudly. She had gotten to close to one of the chickens on the yard and Mr Thys the chief Rooster, pecked her tail.

Mr Thys the Rooster. I wouldn't go too near Mr Thys - see those sharp nails on the back of his feet!
When mum went out to check on Princess, she was hiding under Michael's chair in his Askari hut

To Lindy, Bozo, Mandu, Arthur and siblings, and all other pets and their yoomens, have a Happy New Year.

For more pet posts, please click here

African reflections in Mwadui

Thanks to James for hosting Weekend Reflections for another year. You can access this blog by clicking here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day ...

...and three Mzungus man- (and woman-) down!

On Christmas Eve, Grant held a social for our company expats at the Guest House. Fortunately I didn't have to do any catering as we'd ordered Indian bitings and biryani from our friend,  Minas in Shinyanga. Grant also invited the six expats left over at the Client camp. Our own group reads like a United Nations gathering but everyone lives and works happily together.
Standing from left: Solomon, (Ghana); Grant, Jo and Johan (South Africa); Miki (Serbia); Sadique and Mani (India) with Barden (Fillipines) peeping between them. Front: Anesta and Ben-joi (Fillipines) with Dipen (India) between them. Barden and Ben-joi are brothers (Absent is Thys SA, Mishka - Serbia who were on leave and Steve - UK, who was trying to rest in his room just beyond this photo

 Louise and son, Wessie from the Client and moi

ON Christmas Day, the Indians, Filipinos, Serbs and Solomon the Ghanaian, wanted to BBQ at Songwa Dam about 5kms from town. Grant supplied them with plenty of meat, refreshments and a vehicle. Apparently they had a wonderful day. 

The rest of us, being traditionalists wanted the Full Monty; we joined the people at the client club for an alfresco Christmas Lunch around the pool.
Louise, Tilla and I set the tables with Christmas linen, baubles and candles

We set out a separate table with all types of cheeses and biscuits which I'd brought in from Dar Es Salaam when I took the foster cats to be flown to SA earlier this month. We also arranged the gifts on this table: note the many red ones were all for the only child on camp

Young Wessie received all his gifts from his parents at the lunch. All the expat adults had also clubbed in and one guy bought an off-road remote controlled car for him. As you can see it was well received! 

Grant and I supplied the glazed ham and roast turkey. We also made a traditional English trifle and took along two bought Christmas puddings. Tilla had made a flan, roast lamb while Louise made the salads and delicious bread rolls to round off the main course

A delicious Christmas dinner was enjoyed by all!
Louise and I pose in our locally bought outfits  in front of the pool. As I always say: another tough day in Africa! 

When we'd all had our fill and packed up the crockery and remaining food (which we shared), we all returned to our respective homes. Grant and I intended to go out birding (hence the beautiful sunset which I posted on Friday) but before we left, Johan called me to my back door. He had a serious middle-ear infection which was causing him a great deal of pain. Once I had him seated in an armchair in our lounge, I dug through my medicine chest for painkillers. At the same time, Grant heated a spoonful of tissue oil in a spoon. Johan took the meds with plenty of water. Then using a syringe I inserted the warm oil into his ear. With a cotton wool earplug in place, we sent him to his cottage with instructions to lie down and sleep. 

The next morning he told Grant he'd had the first decent painless night this week. He popped into the hospital where the doctor on call gave him strong anti-biotic capsules and an anti-biotic ear oil. The doctor also instructed him to go straight back to bed again! 

Meanwhile Steve, who'd been feeling poorly since Monday went to the hospital for a malaria test. It was positive. The doctor gave him meds and instructed him to go home to bed. 

Grant and I went out birding on Boxing Day morning. I told him that I'd had a headache since Monday. He said as soon as we returned to town, he'd take me to the hospital for a malaria test. 

Which he did. 

And which I had.

And which was positive! 

I didn't need the doctor to tell me to come home to bed; I just did.  I felt that ill. Fortunately here in Africa, if you get to the hospital quickly, take the prescribed medication and rest until you feel well again, you can survive malaria.

So there was Grant, the only Mzungu who wasn't man (and woman) -down with a malaise ! He hasn't had malaria once in the two years we've been in Tanzania. He puts it down to the fact that he uses a soap in the shower which he bought in South Africa. It's called No-Squite and contains citronella oils and other deterrents which prevent him from being bitten. I've been a little blase and pooh-poohed the idea that the soap helps. But I've since changed my tune: now we're going to bring back a dozen cakes of this magic potion when we return from leave in February. 

At the same time, Grant has asked the Client safety officer to come and spray around our house, the Guest House and all the other private houses which accommodate our people this morning. Only thing is, I'll have to keep the little pup indoors (I can't imagine the cats approving) and the chickens who normally roam around the garden in the day, will have to be contained in their night house. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas Season with your friends and family. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mwadui Sunset Christmas Day 2013

Over New Alhamasi dam

Over the haul road

Over the mine

For more beautiful sky shots, please click here

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Leg-pulling on Christmas day

I'm telling you Shadow, I see a fat man in a red suit sitting in a sleigh, flying over the garden,   being pulled by some strange animals,!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Bird Special

Dear Blogger friends, 

A very happy and blessed Christmas day to you all. I trust you're all spending the day with your family and/or friends. We're doing the latter as we're too far from our loved ones back in South Africa.

I'm not sure whether the Wild Bird Wednesday meme is open today but I just had to post a few of my favorite photos of birds spotted over the weekend.

My first image below is of a Long-tailed Cormorant, Juvenile. A few weeks ago I posted two juveniles sitting on a nest in just this spot. Now we're watching these two birds still in this spot, but who have "flown the coop" so to speak. (the other cormorant was behind the muddy bank when I took this photo) 
Long-tailed Cormorant, Juvenile

As we drove along the road through the bush, I noticed a bird sitting on a branch, quite a way into the thicket. Grant stopped, and although I have many photos of this bird (a Silverbird) I still took several photos. When I downloaded the photo later that day, I realized that I'd captured a beautiful image; the bird and the branch on which it was perched, stood out clearly against the blue sky while the background branches were mysteriously fuzzy.
A Silverbird on its perch against a fuzzy background

Although we birded for quite a while after the above two sightings, I am only going to post one other photo. Grant spotted this Black-shouldered Kite sitting high on the branch of a tree next to the road.  The Black-shouldered Kite is prolific right across Africa from just south of the Sahara to the point of South Africa. It is found everywhere. But for some strange reason, we don't often see them here where we live in Tanzania. 
 Black-shouldered Kite

I'm linking my post to Wild Bird Wednesday hosted by Stewart Monkton and which you can access by clicking here

The day before...

What happens the day before Christmas?

Well, as far as I can see, the men and children wait for the day to arrive while women all over the world prepare for the festivities and meals for that day! 

Yesterday I was in Shinyanga doing the last minute shopping for our function which we're having tonight at the Guest House. Grant ordered Indian  bitings (snacks) to be served. The main meal, instead of the ubiquitous braai/BBQ, will be Chicken Biryani, Vegetable Biryani and raita.  Apart from all the company expats (who are very excited at having a Christmas party)  being there, Grant's also invited the people from the client. So it will be a veritable United Nations with Indians, Pakistanis, Ghanians, Filipinos, Serbians, one Englishman, two English-speaking South Africans (Grant and me) and twelve Afrikaans - speaking South Africans!

Meanwhile I've the 6kg turkey thawing on the kitchen counter, with the gammon next to it. Today I'll be making the stuffing of pork sausages, breadcrumbs and herbs for the turkey. I will start to roast it in the oven at 3am on Christmas day. Once I've prepared the gammon with a sticky sauce, I'll be grilling that in the oven too. 

Meanwhile on Christmas morning Grant will make a large trifle (Christmas puddings are store bought and will be heated just before lunch) and I will make a large three-bean salad. 

Yesterday Michael mowed the lawn at our house and over at the Guest House. I wandered around camera in hand and took some photos for posterity!

 Our resident rooster and two of his five hens enjoy the newly mowed grass

cool and shadowy garden surrounds our house
One corner of our house with the reed fence which encloses our back garden

To everyone who may be going on a blogging break and all the others who, like me, are blogging straight through:


I'm linking my post today to Our World Tuesday which you can visit by clicking here 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Princess and the Hedges Cats

Hi to all mum's blogger friends. It Ambrose here again! I have another chance to post on mum's blog to tell you our news. There is a new addition to the Hedges pet family:  Princess the  puppy!
Princess, the Pup

As far we Hedges cats can make out from the yoomens talking, some children walked past in the street last week. There was a tiny puppy following them. It was very tired so it sat down opposite our large garden gate; but the children walked on. When Askari Armani told the children to wait for their dog, they said they didn't want it; he could keep it!

Armani picked up the little dog, opened our gate and passed it to our Askari Michael.

The next morning our mum saw it and immediately brought it into our enclosed shamba at the back of our house. Of course, we kitties were not impressed. 

But mum de-wormed the pup and bathed it to get rid of the fleas. Mum  told us the is here to stay. Apparently this is the season of goodwill, etc etc! 

Our yoomen dad and yoomen unca Johan named the pup Princess. 

Every morning while Michael works in the garden and mum hangs out the laundry, Princess romps around in the flower beds playing with a red ball which belonged to Topsy and Tipsy.
 Princess the pup plays in our shamba every morning

 Princess the pup loves Michael who is actually our friend, but mum has asked us to be kind to the pup so she also hangs around Michael

I have already been close to Princess and sniffed at her. Although I did puff up, mum told me I was a very kind cat and that I would soon be playing with her!

 A new creature in our garden makes us kitties puff up

Notice my puffy tail makes the puppy careful 

 The pup makes a yappy meouw which hurts my ears. Mum says this stance shows Princess wants to play! 

 Unca Shadow keeps his distance from the new pup

Dad Ginger mostly ignores Princess! 
Every evening we kitties sit in the late sunshine and watch the puppy play around the garden

Although mum has done everything to make this puppy comfortable, she insists that it sleeps in the Askari hut. And mum says that Princess is so obedient that after each of her three meals a day of bread soaked in warm milk and mixed with our cat food (yikes, I didn't know THAT!), she sleeps in her box bed next to Michael. 
 When her tummy is full, Princess spends most of the day asleep next to Michael in his Askari hut

Mum says that by having Princess as a pet dog now, will prepare me, Unca Shadow and my dad Ginger for the day when we go to a faraway place with them. She says they have other dogs in their other house (do yoomens have more than one house?) and when we eventually arrive there, we will be used to dogs. 

Although Dad Ginger and Unca Shadow aren't yet keen on the pup, I want to play with her. I'm sure mum will take photos of the day when this happens.

So that is my new news!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hedges Kitty Christmas Greetings

Hi Bozo, Lindy and all mum's blogger friends. I have some news to tell you but mum says it's too long to do in one night so she'll allowing me to post again tomorrow!(Yippee two posts in one week!)

Meanwhile she says we should wish people for the festive season as many might be taking a break (what's a break? Can you eat it, I wonder?) 

So here's a wish from Dad Ginger, Unca Shadow and me, Ambrose 


For more cute pet posts, just click here

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Critters

While on our birding trips through the mine, we always see other little creatures as well. These past two weekends were no exception. Riding along the dirt road to the dam, Grant stopped the vehicle and pointed at a black line crossing the road in front of us. I got out of the car and tried to capture this phenomena.
A long column of ants crossing from one side of the road to the other

You could see a definite line as the ants crossed in front of our vehicle

 I zoomed in on one ant to prove that they really were alive and crossing the road! 

Happy that I managed to capture something so different, I got back into the vehicle and we continued down the road. No trip over the weekend would be complete without us seeing at least one deer (buck). Sure enough as we drove along I saw a movement in the bush. Grant stopped and I managed to get several photos of a Klipspringer standing quite still in the thorn scrub.
Once again we drove along (remember we're birding at the same time!) and a little while later Grant stopped suddenly, pointing to the edge of the road. There were several mice running across our path and into holes in the sandy bank. One stopped dead (obviously hoping to escape detection!) and I managed a photo.


A few meters along the road, the same thing happened on the other side of the road. Grant stopped and I only managed to get a photo with the last mouse facing away from me.
Another mouse, this time facing away from the camera

Thanks to Eileen for hosting this Saturday meme. You can join her and add your Saturday Critters post to her blog by clicking here

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sunny Skies at last!

For more sky posts around the world, please click here