I am going to skip a day here in our safari journey to give you a little insight into how people live in Tanzania. (In other words, more wildlife to come at a later date…)
We spent yesterday (August 16) in Mto Wa Mbu (known as River of Mosquitoes). It is an agrarian community at the edge of Lake Manyara. Flora, our guide, gave us a ‘cultural’ tour through the heart of a diverse and agriculturally-abundant village. There are 120 tribes co-existing in Tanzania. With the exception of the Massai who are isolated and engage with other communities only in business transactions, Mto Wa Mbu is home to many members of these tribes who choose to live harmoniously. Although there is no shortage of clean water, vast land and fertile soil for decent cash crops, most inhabitants live in bandas (‘mud huts’).
They grow and harvest rice, bananas, coconut, and avocado. The first two crops are their most economically successful due to growing duration. As a whole, this community is better off than many others. Food security and access to water are non-issues. A rarity in many other Tanzanian communities.
The kitchen and makeshift bathroom in this house are separated only by wooden sticks.
Garbage is dumped on private property for which the landowner must have a dumping permit. The chickens find something edible amongst the ‘rubbish’.
The children in Mto Wa Mbu were so adorable. Tiny. Friendly. “Hello. Hello. Hello.” They repeat in song – ad nauseum. We waved and greeted them with smiles. They are dirty and disheveled but mostly, happy. Some children grab onto your fingers as if they want to join in the tour. But soon you realize that they are trying to twist your ring off of your finger. So you let go. And move along.
Other children – young toddlers – just want to stare at you with their big doe-like eyes and long eyelashes. Maybe it’s because we are friendly too. Maybe it’s because we are strangers in their home.
Maybe it’s because we are wazungu (‘white people’).