Author Archives: mwanzatiggerific

Village Visit: Return Journey

Having spent a whole day in Nkome village, it was time to return to Mwanza.  The bus leaves at 5am, so as it is still dark at that time, we took a motorbike ride from our host’s home to the centre of Nkome at 4:30 am – as it’s not safe to walk at night.  We arrived in good time and took the 5am bus hoping to catch the 9am ferry to Mwanza.  However, the trip was not that straight forward.

I’ve put a video together to show what happened…..


Village Visit: A Day in Nkome

After the journey out the day before. I woke up, having had an excellent sleep and was offered water for a shower.  Definite reminders of life in Malawi, having a cup-shower in an outdoor bathroom.  The water was hot and afterwards I felt refreshed and ready for the new day.

I walked round to find out what was happening in the family and found 2 of the daughters preparing breakfast – chapatti + beans.  A meal I would usually associate with evening time!

One of the daughters started to bath her niece in a bowl (and reminded me of when I used to bath Bex like that when we were away, at a similar age).  I helped too – baby Jane is a real cutie.



After breakfast, one of the sons, Majid, who is a secondary school teacher, took us all around the local area.  It was really interesting to see all the different crops growing, including chilli which made me think of my sister + brother-in-law’s chilli sauce business “Chilli Bugs“.

Part of the walk took us through a fishing area and then to the main centre of Nkome

We ended up quite a distance from home, so we took 2 pikipiki’s (motorbike) back to Onyango + Jane’s house)….
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…in time for lunch (at 3pm).  This time we had a lovely meal of chicken, goat, rice, ugali, greens and also some mango.

The building which will provide the office and centre for the project that Joel is working on.  It’s only recently been finished, but needed a bit of the painting touching up which Joel attended to, whilst I chatted to other members of the family.

Nkome, is situated by the lake and so many people earn money through the fishing trade.  Jane, took us out to the nearby lake shore, and we met people drying fish and fishing nets.  Later, after we had all gone to bed, Jane, went out in the middle of the night, when the fishermen return to the shore with their catch of dagaa (small fish), to buy some that she will later sell at the market.  She returned to the house at 2am.  She told us that most of the time she breaks even and it’s a bonus when she makes a profit!  However, she takes the view that she has to try to help provide for the family.

After we returned from the lake shore, we were offered masala tea which is spicy, sweet and refreshing.  However, as the sun was also close to setting, Joel and I walked to the lake shore (only about a minute’s walk away), together with our cup of tea, which caused great hilarity by the locals! – to try to get a good sunset photo!

Dinner was chicken, plantain, ugali, greens and also some pineapple.  Again delicious.  We then chatted together before turning in early as we had to leave the house at 4:30 am to catch the 5am bus to return to the ferry port.  It was going to be an early start and in the dark as sun rise is at 6:30!

Village Visit: Into the Unknown

Ever since I lived in Malawi (in the early 90’s), I have longed to return to an African village. One of the expats I have got to know is Joel, from the USA, who also goes to language school ( although a different class to mine). He has been involved in a project in Nkome, a rural community a few hours away from Mwanza. The project aims to support orphans in the community, who are taken in by the extended family, however, this results in a considerable financial burden, on an already tight budget. School, is not free. So, for example, if a family has 3 children and then gains 2 from the death of the parents of a relative, they will take them in, but if they can only afford school fees for 3 children, then the additional children won’t go to school, but will help the family by working out in the family farm. The project aims to provide these families with the funds to enable all of the children to get an education.

I was thrilled to be invited to visit Nkome with Joel. So, on Thursday, I met him in Mwanza by the ferry port, intending to catch the 12:15 ferry across to Kamanga. He’d already purchased our bus tickets so we put our bags on the bus, that we would take from Kamanga and then walked to the ferry’s ticket office, as you have to buy a ticket and walk onto the ferry. The ferry arrived about 12:30 and we boarded it, together with buses, lorries and cars.

This ferry company requires everyone to hear a safety briefing (in Swahili) and this also gives “machinga” (street sellers) the chance to sell things to the passengers.

Once the briefing was over, Joel and I decided to board our bus, to escape the free-for-all of everyone trying to board the bus on the other side. However, the question was how to reach it! The vehicles are parked with very little space between them, so we chose the best route next to the left-side of the bus before our bus and the ferry side. However, the gap between these got steadily narrower as we made our way towards the front of the bus. Me being not quite as thin as I might like, made it most of the way, but realised that wishful thinking was not enough to get me all the way! So, when I reached the door, I boarded the bus and then asked the driver if I could go out via the driver’s door, on the other side, which provided a solution. Having negotiated getting down from this bus, I then was able to get to our bus, passing 3 people and made it to the steps of our bus – phew!!

After the 30 min crossing, we began the 4hr journey to Nkome. There were a number of stops on the route, and although the bus seats 62, there were over 100 on the bus. At each stop more people alighted, including a young woman and her small child. This little boy was probably 2 years old,
but obviously wouldn’t be able to stand for the whole journey, and the mother asked me to help her, so I picked him up and sat him on my lap. After a short while he fell asleep, and stayed that way for most of the way. I was pleased I could help her in a small way.

We arrived at Nkome and walked the short 30 min walk to the home of our hosts, Onyango & Jane. It was nice to stretch our legs. En-route, I was really surprised, to see a pine forest – really didn’t expect that in Africa!!!! Upon arrival we were welcomed and offered tea – hot, sweet, black, spicy and delicious.

Joel has a tent which he keeps at the family home, so I helped him put it up. I was given a room to sleep in, complete with bed & mosquito net. The loo (a pit latrine) was obviously outside and I was really impressed with how immaculately clean it was. There was a bucket of water and jug to act as a flush. There was even a toilet brush!

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The project’s office building has only recently been completed and is located nearby Onyango & Jane’s house. A meeting had been arranged for the project, to which I was invited, to discuss the formal opening ceremony of the office.

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Afterwards, we were offered a lovely meal of rice, beans, and greens. Although there is no electricity in Nkome, the family have a couple of solar lights in the house, which gave good light inside. After the meal, we played some cards. I taught Onyango how to play a simple game, I’ve known as “Strip Jack Naked”. He thought it was hilarious, and we all laughed.

It’s amazing how the lack of electric light makes you want to go to bed earlier, and I was more than ready to go to bed by 10 pm, and soon fell asleep, wondering what the next day would hold…..

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Girls Day Out

For our a long time I wanted to have a girlie day out.  For various good reasons there wasn’t a free day until today….

So off we set…

Neither of us had eaten breakfast, so we stopped for chai + mandazi (african donuts + sweet black tea).


Bex has been saying for weeks how she wanted a new hairstyle, so we walked down to Talapia, where Guddy, a ‘Toni + Guy’ trained hairdresser works on the off-chance she might have a space, and sure enough she did and so the transformation began:


It was now lunchtime, so we stayed at Talapia for refreshment

Then we walked back home (via the supermarket that sells sweets!)

Upon arriving back at the compound, Bex + Graham spent some time together doing ‘Sporkle’ quizzes online – which takes great concentration:


In the evening (Matt was out babysitting) and we invited Bev, a neighbour on the compound, over for games – Mahjong + Black Queen.

So a great day – definitely one to be repeated.

Wildlife here in Mwanza (video)

Most of these were taken in our garden!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters (Anita 1)

IMAG0861_BURST002_COVERHow long do people with ‘mobility issues’ have to pull over for? Bit unfair don’t you think?!!!


I always wanted to go abroad and after years of family camping trips, my first trip was to France on a  school French Exchange at 14 and a 2nd one at 15 – my French was rubbish Continue reading

How do you eat an elephant?

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When Graham and I moved into our house, I said at the end of a very exhausting day that I would never do this again!!  Now more than 16 years later we are repeating the process.  You may have seen the photos in earlier blogs of the clearing of the garage, shed and loft not to mention the other rooms in the house.  Although Graham has made numerous trips to the dump and our refuse collectors are probably surprised at the considerable increase in pink recycling & rubbish bags laid out ready for them to collect, I must admit that I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the enormity of the task in front of me to get my house in a suitable state to put on the market.  I’ve taken a fortnight off work, to give me the actual time to work on the house.  My parents are also coming over each day this week to help me – as well as being a huge help, I’m really enjoying having the time with them, knowing that in a few months we will have left the UK and it’ll be sometime before we meet again.

Dad has put up a new door frame round Bekah’s door, which will look like it’s always been there once it has been painted (tomorrow’s job) and fixed the banister at the top of the stairs.   Mum has done a great job on laying a new lino floor in the bathroom & downstairs loo – I just need to paint the skirting and walls now to finish it off.  Once these have been done, I’ll take some photos, so watch this space….  Meanwhile, I’ve continued with what I started yesterday and the day before…. sorting out of cupboards, with a break this afternoon when I did the really exciting task of cleaning the oven!!

Now 2 days in to my leave from work, I’m not feeling quite so overwhelmed
So the answer to the question  “How do you eat an elephant?  is:….one bite at a time!!”   Not that I’d want to eat one of these magnificent mammals of course, but I find the metaphor helpful 🙂


Malaŵi Memories and Tanzania Thoughts

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Contemplating the move to Tanzania, makes me think back to life in Malaŵi and I wonder how similar/different it will be in Mwanza?  Here are a few thoughts I’ve had.

Atmospheric Action
I don’t think I’d really appreciated lightning and thunder before I experienced an African storm – the whole sky lit up by many strokes of lightning – truly amazing.

Bawo Beans
I love playing games and spent many a time, playing the traditional game of Bawo, on my veranda with the children.  It’s simple to learn but requires some strategy and some luck to win.    Wonder if the Tanzanians have an equivalent bean-game?  If so, I cant wait to learn it!!

Colourful Clothing
I’m often frustrated when buying clothes, because I just can’t find clothes that fit!  So many times I have gone into a shop only to find items in sizes 8 or 22!!  I’m looking forward to giving my material and measurements to a tailor and having clothes made to measure – a luxury in the UK and the norm in Malawi – wonder if it will be the same in Tanzania?

Fresh Fruit – (Mangoes & Passion Fruit)
I remember a man coming round to my house with a bucket full of passion fruit hoping to sell them to me for the equivalent of 50p.  I bought the lot, delicious :-).  The next day, he returned with another bucket and I bought them.  The following day, you’ve guessed it, he called with yet another bucket full of passion fruit!  Now, much as I love eating them, there’s only so many a girl can eat so reluctantly I had to decline the offer!!

Outside my house, was a mango tree.  The children were always happy to climb it to pick some of this delicious fruit, in exchange for the chance to do some colouring on my veranda.  Apart from one day when they were unusually reluctant – they explained there was a green mamba (highly poisonous snake) in the tree and could they wait ‘til it had gone?!!!

Laid-Back Lifestyle
My life so often seems such a constant rush from one thing to another and there just never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done that I need to do, let alone those I want to do. People and friendships are so important and yet spending quality time with people is so often squeezed out with the rush and pressure of life.  My experience of living in an African village was of stark contrast to this – it was considered rude to walk past someone without saying hello and greeting them, and people had time for each other.  Yes, things took longer to do and at times this was frustrating, but overall it made for a far better quality of life. 

 We’re moving to an urban setting in Africa and although it’s not the same country and many years have passed, I understand the pace of life is still considerably slower than here and I’m looking forward to returning to a more laid-back lifestyle.

Serengeti Safaris
I’ve watched countless nature programmes on the TV and I’m very much looking forward to seeing some of this wildlife for real in the Serengeti, which apparently is situated around about 3 hours’ drive from Mwanza. 

Speaking Swahili
In Malaŵi, I learned to speak Chicheŵa, a Bantu language and it made a real difference.  So, I’m determined to learn as much Kiswahili as I can over the next few months so when I arrive I’ll be able to speak the language a little and really get to know people.

Stunning Sunsets
One of the treasured memories I have from my time in Malawi was looking across the plain from the veranda of my house seeing the numerous beautiful sunsets. Apparently the sunsets over Lake Victoria are amazing.

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Speaking the Lingo!!

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Thought it was about time I (Anita) had a go at ‘blogging’ so here goes…

20+ years ago I was living in Malawi and was speaking and teaching in the local language ‘Chichewa’.


Teaching a health prevention class
“Mwana ku mwana” (Child to child),
in a rural Malawian village (1992)

In Tanzania, it seems that another Bantu language ‘Kiswahili’ (ie Swahili) is spoken.  “Great :), having learned one it can’t be that hard to learn a 2nd one surely!”, I naively thought, until I started studying a Learn Swahili book and then the confusion set in.  I thought the way to approach it would be comparing the 2 languages but I ended up getting very muddled, there seem to be more noun classes (though I haven’t counted them) and some of the words have very different meanings eg the ‘na’ prefix in Chichewa indicates the past, but in Swahili it means the present!!


Me, teaching a health lesson

So I went to plan B which has been to forget the Chichewa and learn Swahili using an audio language learning programme.  It takes just 30 mins a day, and today will be lesson 10.  This seems to be working much better and I now know how to order 2 beers and say useful phrases such as “I would like to buy something” “Where would you like to eat?” and “I want a cup of tea/coffee with you”.  This way the Chichewa knowledge seems to be helping as some nouns are similar eg the word for house is “nyumba” in Chichewa and “nyumbani” in Swahili.  Of course the test will be when I try it out with someone who can actually speak Kiswahili!!


Hopefully once I’ve gone through the oral lessons, I can then go back to the book and it’ll then make more sense – well that’s the plan!!!

Not forgetting Swahili Bubble Bath 🙂 (edit – Graham) and your cousin Helen!!