Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bongo Series: The Arusha Experience

After my short stay in Moshi, I headed to Arusha. I had never spent a night in Arusha so the idea was so exciting for me. We had private ride to Arusha, so we didn’t have the whole “kuchimba dawa” experience.

Before we left for Arusha, my cousin, who provided the ride for me, had to do some banking in Moshi. Trust me; banking in Tanzania could be a whole day affair. I know folks in Tanzania can’t do anything about it; I could not help but wonder how banking is insufficient and a bottleneck in doing business. Long lines weren’t only at the counter, but even at the ATM!

I know this is just shooting some breeze, but why in the world isn’t any bank; especially locally owned banks, try to differentiate themselves from the competition by opening more branches based on the population served? Unless the banks make more money through what seems to me as inefficiencies.

On the way, we stopped to do some “grocery shopping”. I know I sound like a mzungu, but man, you have no idea the last time I saw ladies selling green peppers, avocado, onions, etc on the roadside in buckets. So cut me some slack, would you? I just wished I was living on those grocery prices here in Columbus. Man, the savings alone would have been enough to make a mini millionaire. Imagine a bucketful of fresh, cheap organic avocados!

My apologies if I made you hungry.

I had to give it up to Arusha municipality. The city is not as clean as Moshi, but at the same token way cleaner than Dar-es-Salaam. I couldn’t help but notice that the city had plenty of street lights. Well, wenyeji informed me that the lights were not installed simply because the city was so much in love with the taxpayers; the street lights were installed to impress the Sullivan Summit attendees.


To me this street light story made me think of what I have been saying all along on this blog. It is very hard to make progress unless Tanzanians make a paradigm shift. While it is a good thing that the street lights remain behind for the benefit of Arusha residents, I believe it is wrong mentality to erect street lights simply because wageni are coming!

Seriously, when was the last time you heard the city of New York or Washington DC is erecting street lights to impress Jakaya Kikwete? These cities do what they do for the benefit of their residents, nothing more.

Will we ever come to the point of doing wonderful things with ourselves in mind? Don’t we deserve the best of things?

Despite all that, I just enjoyed watching my Maasai brothers stroll down the streets in their traditional attire. Sullivan Summit or not, the Maasais rock!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. The wenyeji might have misinformed you. I left Arusha in December and the street lights were already there. It isnt because of the sullivan summit. The new town administration are just doing their job.

I concur about the cheap food