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writings on the wall

On red soil

This category contains 39 posts

Aid shambles: ..too many bakers..

This is the second (explanatory) post of a three-part series taking a critical look at aid from Tanzania. The first part, including the cake analogy, can be found here. It’s easy to criticise aid, if development woes of the past decades are all assigned to that. But to see why aid is functioning so poorly, … Continue reading

Aid shambles: One cake…

This is the first (introductory) post of a three-part series taking a critical look at aid. Imagine you’re a baker, and you’re baking a cake. The local cookbook isn’t finalised yet so you’re using a foreign one where measures and ingredients are different, meaning you have to improvise a little. While the cake is in … Continue reading

Hakuna matata

No problems. That famous Swahili-phrase from the Lion King (though it is more common to say hamna shida/tatizo) is truly a guiding motto when travelling in Tanzania. Not only does it work as an excuse for those who are supposed to solve the problem, it also works in keeping everyone else calm. Picture above was … Continue reading

Urban transport dreams

African cities are walking cities, but are they walkable? ‘No’ was the immediate answer that came to my mind, but the title of the Walkonomics/This Big City blog post made me curious enough to read more. According to it, walking is “the most popular form of transport” in urban Africa. Realistic enough, there are millions … Continue reading

Now craving: Krest Bitter Lemon

There’s no better drink to cool you down than a Krest Bitter Lemon, served ice-cold in the hot midday sun with ‘sweat’ dripping off the side of the 350ml glass bottle. In fact anything by Krest would be good right now, be it Bitter Lemon, Soda Water or Tonic Water. Krest is a Coca-Cola product … Continue reading

7th Heaven, pt. 4

#4 Spices, spices, spices Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island, and for a pretty good reason. The whole middle part of Unguja is covered in spice plantations, and apart from tourism, it’s one of the biggest driver’s of the economy. So whether it’s fresh cumin, vanilla-flavoured tea or any colour of peppercorn you’re looking for, … Continue reading

Shilingi ngapi?

How many shillings? Whether you use this phrase with a salesperson known or unknown to you, it basically always ends with a long bargaining process. After a while, you learn that there are some products which are impossible to bargain down the price for, since no one would sell at a loss, but these products are rare. Most prices … Continue reading

Malaika, my love

A beach bar of many names, from early Dar Alive and Malaika to the latest Mbalamwezi Beach Club, somehow Malaika is still the most suiting name for a pretty place (and easiest/shortest to pronounce). Swahili for ‘angel’. Just 5 minutes away from my home in Mikocheni lay a little paradise. Malaika is quite easy to miss … Continue reading

7th Heaven, pt. 3

#3 The Beach Boys are world famous! Not the 60’s band, but the countless dudes who like to hang around the more tourist-flocked beaches of Zanzibar, looking for chatting company, payment for guide services or maybe even a girlfriend, if you’re lucky! Some are plain annoying, like the one who came over all the time … Continue reading

7th Heaven, pt. 2

#2 You can easily get lost in Stone Town Stone Town is the old part of the capital Zanzibar Town on Unguja, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s got a lovely charm and reminds me a little bit of Italy actually with the narrow, winding streets, small shops and cafés and countless scooters. It’s … Continue reading

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