I’m already for two weeks in Tanzania now, this time without travellers, but for business. What a beautiful experience! When I’m leaving the house in the morning, I don’t know where I will end up at night. Sometimes it makes me literally dizzy of everything that is happening. Yesterday night we arrived unscheduled and in total darkness at Wag Hill Lodge, outside Mwanza. The winding road took us to a remote area. The headlights of the car were shining their light on the bush. Always exciting, this kind of venture. After half an hour, we are arrive at a wooden gate. Rama hits the claxon and a young security man in striking outfit opens the door. A red baret? A dark blue army sweater? Perfect English? This is not an ordinary guard. A second man with red baret and striking red coat, joins him, his face has a tight expression, like the marechausee. His tone to Rama sounds like an interrrogation. I start to feel uncomfortable.
A motor stops at my side of the car. Three well dressed girls are leaving the gate, their faces notable made up. I think, “aren’t they too young to go out?”, while I’m talking to them. In the meanwhile, Rama gets the message we are not allowed to come in. The guests are asleep, and they don’t want us to disturb them. Already asleep? At 8.30pm? I explain I don’t have time to come back, that I’m going back to the Netherlands, and that I just want to have an impression of the lodge, and that I never bring clients to a lodge that I haven’t seen with my own eyes. The guard leaves to talk to the manager. I hear Rama say: “I don’t like this Alina, something is wrong here”. The manager refuses to let us in, we can come back tomorrow morning. To my surprise Rama insists we want to get in tonight, but it doesn’t help. Through the phone, the manager shouts that no means no.
Without saying anything Rama turns the car. “Those were school children Alina”, he says. There are many boarding schools in this area. I get pale as I understand why he is upset. “Inside that lodge, some hotshot or government figure is throwing a party”, Rama says angrily. No lodge will ever refuse a tour operator that comes to inspect the place for his guests. Silent we drive the way back. Today a visit to the police.
Here, the days unfold by itself.
Of course they always do, but in Tanzania I experience this to the extreme. Surrendering to that brings the adventure alive.
So we ended up with a very old Sukuma Chief, Charles Kaphipa. Charles is a living history book, and during one and a half hour I was captivated by his stories. During the time of the English domination, before his night of initiation as Chief of the Bukumbi region, he was beaten up. His attackers had digged a grave and buried him. For a short time he was in there, almost suffocating, and then released. This ritual served as a symbol of letting go of his old identity and being newly born as a leader.
Charled turned out to be a Chief with vision with his heart in the right place. He was pleading for the position and the safety of older women in his tribe. The Sukuma tribe still has the primitive and superstitious habit to murder women with red eyes, because they think they are witches. Those red eyes are not strange when you realize those women are cooking on wooden fires in unvented huts. I have a clear memory of my own eyes and coughing attacks when I tried to protect my face behind a shuka during meals in a Masaï hut.
The old women found protection with chief Kaphipa. In the end the Sukuma took revenge by murdering his sister. The grandson of Charles is telling about this emotionally in this video.
Later he tells me the threatened women were sitting in a circle in front of the house, often couldn’t walk anymore, and defecating in that place. He cleaned their faeces and his grandfather learned him to show respect for old people.
While I’m listening to the stories, I feel connected and happy. So many people in this country know to touch me. How is that possible? And the answer that comes to me is authenticity. The people here live their lives as it presents itself to them. They are who they are. I don’t see a lot of ideal self. Everything is also unfolding in them. They are not working on eachother, they don’t try to improve eachother, no psychological analyses. They act in the moment to their best, and all consequences are accepted. The experiences are therefore pure and innocence is coulouring the heart. The faces of old people often are very powerfull, full of character and soft.
A bit later, I don’t believe it myself, I am in flamingo pose on the roof of the teachers house in Mwanza. I’m doing a tough yoga class with Nina and sweat is streaming over my face, while I am enjoying the beautiful view over a dusky Mwanza Rock and Lake Victoria. In the air I see the shapes of a dozen of black birds against the evening sky.
What a thrill to experience all of this.