T Minus 121
I thought it about time I shared a little about our destination. This is obviously prior to arrival but gives an idea of what awaits us. There are probably many gaps which only be completed when we live there.
Tanzania is located just South of the Equator in East Africa bounded by Kenya, Uganda and Lake Victoria in the North; Mozambique, Malaŵi and Zambia in the South; the Indian Ocean in the East and Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi in the West.
The country It is known officially as the United Republic of Tanzania and is actually a union of two states .mainland Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar. Politically, it has remained relatively peaceful since independence from Britain and subsequent merger in 1964.
Tanzania boasts the highest point in Africa is in (Mt Kilimanjaro) as well as the world’s second largest freshwater lake (Victoria) and second deepest lake (Tanganyika). In addition to Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is home to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.
Tanzania is a relatively poor country and has few natural minerals to export. Nonetheless it has maximised it’s economic potential, mainly through tourism and gold production.
The population of Tanzania is almost entirely African with a small percentage of Arabs and Europeans. The main language is Kiswahili (Swahili), but English is the language of commerce and Arabic is spoken widely in Zanzibar.
Mwanza is located in the North West of Tanzania on the shores of Lake Victoria. It is the second largest city in Tanzania (after Dar Es Salam). It is the fastest growing city in East Africa with a population of approaching 3/4 million. It is the capital of the region also known as Mwanza. The city dates back to pre-colonial times when it was the centre of Sukuma Empire. When Tanganyika became a German Colony, Mwanza became a district. In British colonial times it became part of the Lake Region reverting to Mwanza region post independence. Today 90% of the population are Sukuma.
It is only 2.5 hours by road from Serengeti National Park. This is certainly a place we will want to visit among many others.
Anecdotally we have been told that if you look long enough you can source just about anything in Mwanza, even though on the surface it does not seem so. Prices for food and standard goods are reasonable but the cost of more unusual items may be more expensive than in the West. Food shopping can take it’s time and can be hit and miss according to some bloggers. Prices are relatively cheap but items may or may not be in stock.
The school I will be working at is Isamilo International School (IIS) in Mwanza. Here they deliver a British Curriculum including iGCSE’s and A Levels to a mix of expats from many nations as well as to Tanzanians including a number of Tanzanian Indians (i.e Tanzanians whose heritage comes from the Indian subcontinent). The school is Private but it’s fees are much lower than elsewhere in East Africa opening up education to more than would otherwise be able to afford it. Furthermore, it opens it’s gates on Saturday mornings to disadvantaged children including many who have lost parents through HIV/AIDS. This offers free English lessons as well as swimming and other sports. This is supported through charitable giving and fundraising. The school seems to be very central to the local community. I am sure that day to day teaching will be routine but there will be new challenges as well as new rewards.
As part of the role I will have accommodation paid for including utilities and basic furnishings. The children will also get to attend the school. There will be challenges one of which I am assured will be frequent and prolonged power cuts. We hope to get set up online fairly quickly although 1Mb broadband seems to be the fastest for now. We should be able to ship / source some home comforts and will bring some DVDs etc. Whatever happens at least we will have a roof over our heads.
Sadly Mwanza has a high population of Street Children, forced from their homes by poverty and domestic violence. These children are working or begging on the streets rather than being in school. There are charities working to help. This includes the Tanzanian Street Child Sports Academy who recently sent a Team of footballers to the Street Child World Cup in Brazil, a tournament they won!
Employment & Industry
Unemployment is high but for those who work the main industry is Fishing using the abundance in Lake Victoria, along with Agriculture. Increasingly people are being employed in industry. However, the city is a hub for transportation to Uganda and Kenya and a busy port, ferry and rail terminal.
Mwanza is situated at over 1100m altitude. The land is undulating and has earned the nickname Rock City as a result of the many enormous granite rocks strewn about the hillsides and jutting out into the lake. The most famous of these is Bismarck Rock.
Mwanza’s climate is cooler than the lower lying areas of Tanzania.
Throughout the year temperatures remain consistent with average highs of 28C and lows of 18C. There are two rainy seasons in November/ December (Mvulu = short rains) and again in mid March to May (Masika = long rains). It’s altitude makes Mwanza a lot less humid than the lower lands (50-60%). Mwanza Weather
Mwanza is reputed to be a very friendly city and does not have the commercialism of Dar Es Salam and is less of a tourist trap than Arusha.
So this is a first insight into what will be home for the next two years or more. Life is certainly going to be different and no doubt a bit of a culture shock.
All photos below http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/