Singapore 6:59am


Landed one hour ago from Johannesburg. The trip started in Dar es Salaam at 7:25 am local time. From Tanzania to Singapore is like a time journey. From the dark streets of Dar to the lights of Singapore. From the Dar airport to Singapore world’s hub.
This was my first trip to Sub Sahara Africa and I have to get my thoughts together. I saw just a tiny tiny part of it, though I did compare it all the time with the Asia I know: Cambodia and Vietnam. It is a way to put in perspective what I saw during the week in Dar. Travelling and living abroad is good for the spirit, but the longer you do that the more you lose that kind of childish and worried excitement that I felt the first time I step out of the sliding doors of an airport in the developing world, in New Delhi.
Dar. Africa. At this early time of the day I see snapshots of Dar, people, dala dala (minibuses and vans). Like a slide presentation set on random access to the picture stored in my brain. The familiar music in the busses. The handicraft seller at the Mogweni bus stop calling me rafiki (friend) and bargaining hard to keep the price of the gift I bought high. Her loud laughing when I suggested my price. The incredible colours of the fabric of the tailors’ shops. The large paved roads and the dusty alleys like in Phnom Penh. The large campus of the University of D’Salaam where I worked with a group of economists. What I learned about the transition of Tanzania from state controlled economy and today’s market orientation. The struggle to move up on the development ladder. The three young men I crossed on way to the bus stop. Their red towels-blankets. Their long hairs and their distinctive features that made them so different from the people of the town. In my limited knowledge I thought they were masai. Dr. Rutasitara the team leader of the economic research project we are supporting. His smile and articulated description on how the project is progressing and its challenges. His office at the university, the office and the position of head of the department that is taking a lot of time from his main interest: research on international trade. The hundreds of Ma and PhD theses piled in the small room. The thousands of exam paper to be reviewed. The smile of Francis, the driver who picked me up at the airport when I arrived and told him he was the first person I met in my first trip to Tanzania and Sub-Sahara Africa. The sunsets. Blue sky and stretched soft clouds at the horizon. Its uniqueness as unique were the sunset in Kampong Thom on the green rice fields during monsoon season. The openness of the people and the minimum one hour contagious delays for meetings. And more…
Hakuna matata