Tanzania Stories and Tips

Mosquito River and the People Who Live There

The ListGo Photo, Tanzania, Africa

Mosquito River ( MTO WA MBU)
We visited here on our return to Arusha. Leaving the lands that are plagued by drought behind ,Mosquito River seems like an Oasis . Not really so however. This area gets its name from the large number of mosquitosthat breed here and sadly the resulting deaths from malaria. There is hope however as people are given access to mosquito nets and taught how to use them . Its encouraging to learn that new mothers are given nets by the clinics they visit before their babies are born.
There are 120 different tribes living here in this small area. They’ve arrived for various reasons. Some from countries that are war torn , while others arrive seeking land as cities swallow their small farms. Its an education to us,as we had no idea there were this many tribes in exsistence in Africa.
For the most part ,it seems, the people are self sufficient ,raising crops and animals for food and building their modest homes from mud and straw. When a drought comes,however,as it does now, their harmony changes.Food is short for themselves and their animals. Many starve and the poverty they face each day worsens. We see aid arriving in the form of maize. Its all very organised. Village leaders check the recepients name off a list. No grabbing or pushing here.'

Our guide’s name is Sunday . he tells us he is named for the day he is born. He’s very knowledgeable and speaks good english.. He tells us he was sponsered by an Italian couple as a child and has had 15 years of education. Sunday is from the Tatoga Tribe . His tribe live a solitary life , in a very old and traditional way , speaking only in clicks. Women are very subsurvient to men , kneeling to present food or just to speak.Some of the Tatoga traditions include the barbaric and horrific practise of female circumcison. This is typically done when a child reaches the age of 15 years. Even though this is outlawed today it still continues for about 15 percent of tribes people, resulting in maiming and sometimes death.

As we walk through the village Sunday points out the Muiri Tree, locally known as the Medicine Tree. It produces medicine for everything from appendicitis , hemorrage and malaria. Word about the curative powers of the muiri reached European pharmaceutical companies around a decade ago. Subsequent research found that the bark of the muiri tree contained properties effective in fighting prostate cancer. Today it is in danger of extinction due to over-harvesting.
We also see a euphorbia tree. The sap of this tree is used to enhance scarring that is so important for the various face designs of the tribes people.
Across the street from the village center are rice fields. They are diligently maintained and watered by hand to produce the two yearly crops so needed by the people in the area.

We are taken to visit three of the many tribes that live in the village.
The first is the Mukonde Tribe, who are originally from Mozambique. Surprisingly they speak Portuguese as this is the language of their homeland. They are also skilled wood carvers. The works we saw was so beautiful and intricate it was hard to pass up. We bought a wonderful carved mask and regretfully left behind a gorgeous carved bowl that would be too heavy to carry.
We were invited to visit their home. It was as expected very poor and constructed of mud and had a roof made from banana leaves. The people were smiling and welcoming and unlike many home like this ..tipping is not allowed. Our fee we paid to the guide is used to benefit the community. Their extreme poverty left us speechless. I thought of all the things we have at home that could have helped. Three old but obviously cherished pair of shoes were hung on the wall. One small room for the girls another for the boys. I think maybe one change of clothes were all they owned.

Next we move on to the Village of the Chagga Tribe. These people are originally from Kilimanjaro. Here we roamed through the banana groves. They grow about 25 different varieties. Some are used for eating and cooking and even beer making These people are in fact known for their beer. The beer is made and consumed al in the same day. It looked a pinkish color .we took a sniff but passed on a sampling. Leftover beer is then given to the cows.

The last group we met is Tanzania’s largest tribe the Sukuma . They come from the Lake Victoria area. They are the keepers of the animals, which are both cows and goats. The guide tells us they often have a hard time protecting their cattle from theft. The Maasai believe they own all cows and keep trying to take what they feel are rightfully theirs. It was heartbreaking to see the condition of these starving animals in during the terrible time of drought and we wondered how many would survive.

We end our visit with a stop at the school. Here we meet a very polite and well-spoken teacher. He tells us the small one room school teaches 80 children of various ages. We can’t imagine how he copes. Wishing we had more, we give him a bag of candy for the children.
The short visit we made to this village gave us a chance to learn at least a little about the people and how they strive so desperately just to live in this area. Although it is tempting to open our bank accounts and try to help, we know often money falls in to the wrong hands. We vow to do our research on how best to help through legitimate charity organizations. We won’t forget these people.

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