Tanzania – Unforgettable

Edition 27 December, by Nanda Jagusiak-Monteiro

On behalf of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), the Embassy of Tanzania invited me to attend the Swahili International Expo (S!TE) for the year 2019 which was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 18-20 October 2019.

As I arrived one day earlier, I started with a guiding tour by Shamy Tours & Travel through Dar es Salaam. The guide brought me to the Kivukoni Fish Market, unsurprisingly, it is the best place in Dar to buy and eat ultra-fresh seafood. The stalls are very basic (and pungent, should the wind be blowing from the north, through the fish market). You will find all sorts of delights, from red snapper, kingfish and barracuda, to lobster, octopus, squid, crab and prawns. Colorful to see all the fishing boats along the Indian Ocean and also watching the women buying fish at an auction. After this, we visited:  – the bronze Askari Monument, designed by James Stevenson and erected in 1927, depicts an African askari advancing, rifle ready, in honor of Carrier Corps porters who lost their lives in World War I: – The Azania Front Lutheran Church with its fancy Rhineland-style tower and titled roofs. The Church was built from 1898 to 1901. In line with the austere Lutheran doctrine, there is little decoration inside other than its stained glass windows shipped from Germany; – the Ocean Road Cancer Institute which was built in 1886 from German times, as a malaria research laboratory. It was here that Robert Koch discovered tuberculin for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905; – the National Museum, established in 1940 as the King George V Memorial Museum. In the museum, we visited the Ethnographic Hall, Hall of Man and the History Room; and then the Village Museum. This open air museum was founded in 1966 to preserve some of Tanzania’s architectural and material traditions. Spread over the site are houses built in the styles of sixteen tribes, each furnished with typical household items and utensils. Then a performance was given of traditional dances. We ended our day with a nice dinner at The Waterfront, at The Slipway with a sweeping westward view of Msasani Bay, from its terrace.

The next day I attended the opening of the fifth edition of the Swahili International Expo (S!TE) at Mlimani City Conference Center. The event is the country’s biggest travel and tourism show in East Africa. SITE2019 is having in attendance, participants from all over the world, like China, Ukraine, Sweden, Uganda, Malawi, etc. Around 170 exhibitors and 333 travel agencies were present. At the official opening ceremony, the Board Chair of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Judge Thomas Mihayo said the Expo is aimed at allowing all international tourists to meet and transact tourism business while getting the opportunity to experience the country’s tourism offerings.

Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr. Hamis Kigwangala said the Expo is important in growing and advertising Tanzania’s tourism inside and outside the country. Reiterating the importance of tourism to the country, the Minister said, “Tourism is here to help the economy of our country.” According to the UNWTO, there was one billion tourists worldwide last year, 6 million visited Africa and out of that we had one million visiting Tanzania. He mentioned that Tanzania presents some of the best tourism destinations in the world, including; Ngorongoro CraterSerengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro of which he said he mobilized his colleague government officials to climb earlier this year to convince more people to follow suit. He added that the country offers the best safaris in the world and the Zanzibar Island is a little paradise which every tourist must visit.

Performing the official opening of SITE 2019, the Guest of Honour and Chief Secretary of the State House, Engineer John Kijazi praised the Ministry and the Board for continuously pushing government’s efforts to promote Tanzania’s tourism agenda. He however charged them to step up efforts to increase the numbers, asserting that, “we get the same number of tourists as Mauritius but we have more attractions so we can do better”. He assured tourists of their safety when they are in the East African country. “You are safe in Tanzania, security wise and health wise,” he emphasized.

The day after the opening I took the plane to visit Zanzibar for two days. Zanzibar archipelago is one of Africa’s most bewitching destinations, the name itself evoking palm-backed, languid tropical waters, colorful coral reefs and white sand. Until half of the 19th century, Zanzibar was the capital of Oman and one of the most important cities along the Indian Ocean (trade of spices and slaves). Zanzibar offers a perfect mix of African charm and the exotic ambiance of the Middle East. The first day I made a spice tour in the area of Kizimbani. At the farm I was shown the growing of the spices, like cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, pepper, nutmeg, vanilla, etc. Then I went to the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park, famous for its red colobus monkeys. The national park also encompasses other ecologically connected areas, including the mangroves, which we visited.

At the end of the day, we went to have dinner in a small trendy restaurant “the Rock” in the South East of the island at Pingwe. An Italian businessman built a nice restaurant on a rock with a terrace overlooking the sea and the white sand beaches. It was an overwhelming view while having dinner.

The second day I visited by boat the Changuu Island (Prison Island). Once a transit camp for slaves, the imposing building was erected by the British in 1890s to serve as prison, but only ever used as a yellow-fever quarantine camp. As even that use was limited, the island became a popular weekend retreat for the well-to-do. A long lasted attraction is the presence of over a hundred Aldabra giant tortoises imported from the Seychelles in 1919, some with a weight over 200 kg and more than 100 years old. Boat trips are organized from Zanzibar to do some island hopping with scuba diving and snorkeling in-between.

Returning back to Zanzibar, I visited the old city, called Stone Town, with small streets and white houses. We passed the house where Freddy Mercury was born; the Old Dispensary, a grand four-story building, opened as a health center, its sumptuous design and décor of the British colonial architecture in India; The Palace Museum occupies the former residence of Zanzibar’s last sultan, Jamshid bin Abdullah; Beit al-Ajaib: the House of Wonders, with its colonnaded façade and imposing clock-tower, is Zanzibar’s most distinctive landmark. It was built as a palace in 1883 and was the first to have running water, electric light and an electric lift (that’s why the name of the house); Ngome Kongwe (the Old Fort); the slave market, founded ty Sultan Seyyid Said in 1811 and closed in 1873; the Anglican Cathedral; the spice market and the Livingstone House, where Livingstone lived during his preparations for his last large expedition in 1866.

After my return from Zanzibar, I joined the group for a post event trip for hosted buyers and international media to experience the country’s unique tourism offerings that make Tanzania unforgettable, which was a safari to the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengety National Park, followed to Kilimanjaro. I flew to Arusha and the next day with a safari jeep, with a group of 8 persons, we left for the Ngorongoro Crater.

The spectacular breath-taking Ngoronogoro Crater, a natural amphitheater, surrounded by steep walls rising over 600 meters from the crater floor. It is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles whose magical setting and plentiful wildlife never fail to thrill. The crater is a natural sanctuary for some 30,000 animals including the “big five” of buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino. It is also home to cheetah, hartebeest, hippo, hyena, jackal, reedbuck serval, warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra and many bird and insect species. The crater is the world’s largest unbroken caldera in the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley. It houses one of the largest animal migrations on earth, incl. over 1 million wildebeest, 72.000 zebras and 350.000 gazelles. It is a great experience to have a most beautiful, breath-taking view from the top of the crater and then driving into in the crater and seeing all the wild animals around you. Amazing!!

Then we drove to Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park, and one of the world’s best-known wildlife sanctuaries, the 14.763 square—kilometer Serengeti National Park. Protected since 1929 and declared a national park in 1951. The Serengeti is also, together with Ngorongoro, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve and with good reason, the Serengeti lies at the heart of the world’s largest and most impressive wildlife migration, at the peak of which it contains the highest concentration of mammals on earth. Serengeti means endless plains in the Masaai language, and within its boundaries are more than three million large mammals. It was most spectacular to witness the migration of the wildebeest over the Mara River from Kenya to Tanzania, and then seeing how some jump high into the air to escape from the crocodiles, while crossing the river. I could not believe my eyes how hundreds of wildbeest run from one side of the river to the other side, and then only waiting for the leader to give the signal to start crossing. The herds start their trek back through Serengeti arriving at the short grass plains ready to give birth again and so the cycle continues, and it has over a million years! I spotted, like in Ngorongoro Crater, most of the wild animals living in Serengeti Park, like buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, cheetah and African hunting dog, zebra, etc. There were so many that I could not believe my eyes and so nearby our jeep. Unbelievable!!

The exciting highlight was having a Balloon Safari over Serengeti, which is a lifetime experience. Watching the animals from a hot-air balloon is the ultimate in bush chic. Real stunning to see many animals from above and the silence that hung above it. Furthermore I spent the nights in beautiful lodges and camps in Serengeti, but when darkness fell, we were always accompanied by two armed men to our tent, in case we might encounter a lion!!

We went then to Kilimanjaro, and then I took a guide who showed me around. From my hotel in Moschi, early in the morning, I could see the mountain of Kilimanjaro (5892 m), Africa’s highest mountain, the world’s tallest free-standing massif, and one of the world’s largest volcanoes, covering 3885 square meters. I visited the entrance of the Mount Kilimanjaro where I received all detailed information, like who was the first climber, the number of climbers from over all of the world, etc. Also I visited a waterfall, some caves of the Chagga tribe from the old days and a coffee farm.

Just before taking the plane to Amsterdam, I visited a village of the Masaai tribe, which was very interesting. We were received by the Chief of this Masaai village and as my visit was announced before, the whole village was present (about 60 persons).The men are dressed with a red robe, spear and braided ochre-smeared hair. Before starting the dances, I was dressed up as a woman Masaai, and then all kind of dances and singing was performed by the men and women. They showed me how to make fire with two sticks of wood and the interior of a clay house. I was informed about their way of living, their cattle, the work of the men and women, etc.  Most of the men have 2 to 3 women, and they have many children. At the end of the visit they showcased me all the bracelets, necklaces, spears, little boxes, etc. they are selling to the souvenir shops.

This was “Unforgettable Tanzania” I want to express my sincere gratitude to those who made this marvellous trip possible to me, being the Ambassador of Tanzania, H.E. Mrs. Irene F.M. Kasyanju and the Tanzania Board of Tourism. My trips to Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam and Kilimanjaro were very well organised by Shamy Tours & Travel, Dr. Ally Yusufu, www.shamytours.co.tzinfo@shamytours.co.tz.

After my trip, I had an interview with the Ambassador of Tanzania and she informed me that the bilateral relations between Tanzania and The Netherlands could be traced back during the early days of independent Tanganyika. The historical relations witnessed the official opening of the Embassy of Tanzania in the Netherlands in 1964 that lasted for 30 years until 1994. Excellent relations continued even after 1994 and when the Embassy re-opened in October 2013 they continued to be nurtured in all aspects of development: economically, politically and socially, through exchange of visits of high-level government officials, business communities and scholars from both countries giving substantial room for expansion of business and investment opportunities.

Dutch companies are amongst the largest foreign investors in Tanzania, active in a variety of sectors such as energy, agriculture, horticulture and dairy, infrastructure, finance and health. These generate jobs for Tanzanians, contribute to economic growth and introduce innovative technology. There are more than 100 Dutch Companies in Tanzania.

The level of imports and exports between the two countries is growing. Tanzania exports to the Netherlands was US$61.76 Million during 2018. The main products include fish and aquatic products, cut flowers, plants, live trees and oil seeds; Tanzania Imports from Netherlands was US$85.58 Million during 2018, and the main products include pharmaceutical products, fertilizers, machinery, nuclear reactors and boilers. Trade missions, trade fairs and partnerships are often organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) and Netherlands-Africa Business Council (NABC) supported by the Embassy of Tanzania and Dutch Embassy in Tanzania are often conducted to expand business network and more opportunities for both countries.

Tanzania is currently embarking towards industrialization, which aims at transforming the economy into a Middle Income Industrialised Country by 2025. The Embassy in collaboration with Tanzanian Diaspora in the Netherlands through their Association called TANE (Tanzanians in the Netherlands) come together in promoting investment and business opportunities for Tanzania in order to achieve that goal. Tanzania’s abundance in natural wealth, offers tremendous investment opportunities for investors in all sectors including mining, aquaculture, livestock, ICT and tourism. More companies are thus invited to establish industries in Tanzania. More than 1.5 million tourists visit Tanzania every year, of which over 8,000 are Dutch citizens.

Mrs. Irene Mkwawa Kasyanju is the second Tanzanian Ambassador to be appointed since the Embassy reopened and the first female Ambassador to represent Tanzania in the Netherlands. Since her arrival in October 2015, she is gratified to see the relationship between Tanzania and the Netherlands growing day by day. Efforts made by her Embassy in engaging closely with relevant Dutch authorities and especially the Dutch Business Community is the result of this achievement. She believes that, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and NABC on 21st November 2019 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania will open doors for more Investment and Trade opportunities between the two countries that will be mutually beneficial.

On my request to describe her country in one sentence, the Ambassador said: “Tanzania is one of the most peaceful and politically stable countries in Africa, the right Trade and Investment destination”.