Kwa heri

Goodbye and see you, as this is my last day in Iringa. Tomorrow Daniel will take me to Dar es Salaam to take the overnight flight to Amsterdam.

It was a busy but fruitful period and it’s always a bit sad to take leave of the nice people here in Iringa and especially the people from Tumaini University College. Many started a chat with me, asking who I was and where I came from; enquiring what I was doing at Tumaini and if I enjoyed my stay. Well, I did!

Yesterday, we had the final session with the deputy librarians and Rev. Simba. We talked about leadership and coaching. Later on we discussed collaboration and collaborative teaching. Important issues in an educational library and there was much interest in learning new things.

I’m leaving Iringa with many impressions and ideas, as teaching is learning as well. You learn from your students through their questions and feedback; your learn by observing what other people are doing and you learn to enjoy simple things, staying in a house without all the tools and equipment we, western people are used to.

Today I went to Hasty Tasty Too for lunch; another ‘last time’ for this visit. I’m gonna miss this small place with its great meals and a tv-set: the only tv I saw for 12 days.

Contrary to Sunday, there is no nice singing in the chapel behind the house: this time they’ve decided to do it LOUD and off key: I’m not going to miss that ;-). While the pastor is using the microphone as if he addressing a football stadium, I close the series of blogs on Tumaini, Iringa – Tanzania.

I hope you all enjoyed reading them. Who knows, maybe there will be a third visit. If so, I will share it with you again.
Now it’s time to pack my things and make sure I don’t forget anything. Tomorrow we’ll pass Mikumi Park and I hope to see some wild life, like last year when the elephants came to drink – a wonderful view.
So, cross your fingers for me and thank you for joining.

“Weather with you”

This is the quietest Sunday morning, I have experienced in ages and in mean quiet in the exact sense of the word. Although the project house is surrounded by other houses, it looked as though I was in the middle of nowhere when I woke up. No sound, nothing, even the birds kept quiet en the cock slept late and started to crow after 9.15. A weird feeling if you’re used to the sound of heavy traffic and other noises around the house for almost 24/7.
But nice and I took the time to enjoy it. While I’m typing this, I can hear the singing coming from one of the many chapels around here. I presume it’s the Lutheran chapel and it is enjoyable to listen to.

Friday was a busy day with a session (workshop) with the chief librarian and the deputy librarians Andrew, Isa en Amani on library trends in the morning and (digital) repositories in the afternoon. Especially the ‘trends-session’ gave enough food for thought and reason for feedback: critical questions and debate. The young deputy librarians are eager to learn and implement new ideas, but they have the courage and sense to not simply adopt new things, but reflect on it to see how it can work for Tumaini.

Friday evening I prepared the session for Saturday morning: a workshop for the whole staff on customer services. It was a recapitulation of what we did last year completed with some new ideas, trends and a more in depth way of looking at it.
We started at 8.00 am sharp and I had about 1,5 hours before the library opened again and the staff was needed downstairs. We managed to stick to the time and it was a good session. People were taking notes and eager to learn.
When we closed up, I had the opportunity to give them a small token of my appreciation for their warm welcome and kindness, which was highly appreciated: ‘stroopwafels’ (treacle waffles) and small pieces of ‘Delftware’ for each of the participants.

Later that morning I accompanied Rev. Cornelius Simba to meet the Board of Trustees of Tumaini University College. They were coming to see the new extension of the library, “for which they signed the papers” as they explained to me.
This new extension is a wonderful bright and open building of three floors with office rooms, rooms for special collections and activities and a computer area that will be used for information literacy teaching. The problem is that this building is still empty: except for some chairs and tables, no furniture, shelves or computers have arrived yet. The students don’t seem to bother: they are using the new building as an area for group work and independent studying.
As the new extension has such a nice air, the chair of the Board of Trustees explained his ideas about the office dedicated to Simba, the chief librarian. In his opinion, this office should become his office and he wasn’t joking!! I’m wondering if he gets his way, if he is going to do the shelving every morning and evening too ;-).

Yesterday afternoon I had some time off and took the chance to walk downtown Iringa and see the hundreds of little shops and market stalls where you can buy all sorts of things. The traders invite you to come and see their commodities, but I just wanted to wander around and enjoy this free time. When I came back to the house, Maria was there to clean up and do the washing.

Today it is a lovely day: sunny blue skies like the days before. November is the start of the rain season, but until now I’ve been lucky: only a few downpours and only one of them hit me.
On my computer there is a tool showing me the weather near Baexem: 12 degrees and raining! Like Crowded House wrote and sang ‘you always take the weather with you’  and I have to admit a lot of other feelings and thoughts.


The project house is situated just outside the center of Iringa on a compound of the Lutheran church.
It is a guarded area and the guard has two very friendly dogs, who come to greet me, as soon as they notice I’m entering or leaving the house. They must have smelled I have a dog too.
For Tanzanians, dogs are like other animals around the house: cows, goats, pigs, chicken. My story about my own dog Spunkie to Daniel Lutego, my wonderful PA here in Iringa, made him smile.
He wondered if we also had cows and pigs in our gardens in the Netherlands and when I told him this is usually not the case, and that we keep dogs and cats as pets, he shook his head. I made it even worse by telling him that Dutch people spend a lot of money on buying dogs from a special breed that they specifically want. He answered: for that amount of money we can buy a car! A real joke was that we pay taxes for keeping a dog: he laughed out loud.
Our conversation reminded me of a column from Youp van ’t Hek in the NRC some time ago. His daughter was working in Africa and she made the local Africans wet their pants by telling them we have ‘animal ambulances’.
Since I’m here, I can understand that story even better.
But I’m still Dutch and I like dogs, so I consider these two as my guardian angels and friends.

When I arrived this morning at the Library, I was too late: the shelving was already done. I had promised the staff that I was going to help them with this tedious and time consuming job, but apparently there was not so much to shelve today. I’ll give it a try tomorrow again.

Together with Andrew, the system-librarian and Isa the cataloguing librarian, I spend the whole morning on the planning of the implementation of the new WebOPAC. I worked late last night to prepare a few documents that could help the staff. Now it’s up to them: they have to start thinking, planning and documenting the process. I will take a lot of time to convert 80.000 books into the new system.

I took rev. Simba for lunch at the Hasty-Tasty-Too restaurant: a famous place (it’s mentioned in the Lonely planet and the Rough guide) and we had a nice meal and a talk about the HIV/Aids problems in Africa. In Tanzania the problem is not as big as in South Africa and Namibia, but also here there a too many victims, especially children who are left alone with no family at all.
Simba explained to me that it is a complex problem and has to do with poverty, ignorance (lack of education), and cultural issues and simply donating money will not work. Anyway, the university is doing it’s best: one of the best posters I’ve ever seen on HIV/Aids. [Graduate with A’s not with Aids] Sorry folks, cannot upload photos with this poor internet connection. Will add them later.

This afternoon I worked on the presentations for tomorrow: one on library trends and one on digital repositories.
Although the internet is working on my laptop it is rather slow, compared to my system at home, so it takes a lot of time to find and produce material.

Tomorrow, it’s already Friday: time is flying when you’re having fun.

Intellectual Apathy

Contrary to yesterday it was sunny and warm today. Yesterday there was heavy rain and walking from the office to the library, which is only 500 metres, made me soaking wet. The temperature is so nice that it doesn’t take long to dry up again, so no worries about that.

Two lectures were on my schedule for today, each 1,5 hours. The first group was quite responsive, but the second class started at 12.30 pm and they were very quiet and some even fell asleep. Their stomacs were empty, and without food the brain cannot work. Interesting, especially when one of the topics was ‘critical thinking’. I comfort myself with the fact, that it must have been the timing – not my lecture ;-).

Later on Rev. Simba and I went for lunch on the campus and I had typical Tanzanian food, which was really nice. There is so much to talk about, that we could have chatted all afternoon, but one has to do other things, like preparing the following day.

Danny took me in the car together with Bukaza Chachage to town and I was invited to visit the new bookshop Bukaza started recently. A challenging and interesting undertaking and it was good to see there is a children’s section with picture books and of course a section with business and economics textbooks, of which I recognized several being in the MSM-collection.
I was more interested in African publications and managed to buy two books: Poems from Tanzania co-ordinated by Richard S. Mabala ISBN 978 9976 1 0205 5 and Nature Notes from Tanzania by Anne Outwater ISBN 9976 973 74 8.
Very nice reading stuff!

Back at the house we found out that the power was down: no electricity at all. Luckily enough I asked Danny to come inside to check the hot water system as I had a problem with that. Danny and the caretaker managed to fix the problem. I had no idea what I should have done without electricity: no computer working, no lights and no coffee – that’s probably the worst.

Tomorrow, another interesting day when I’m going to work with Andrew and Isa on planning the implementation of an automated catalogue, based on KOHA. First, I will help the staff to shelve the books: a task that takes them at least two hours every day and they are working on it with the whole team. It’s one of the less agreeable jobs in the library so they can use some help.

I’m closing this blog with copying one of the poems I found in the book I bought today. The poem is called ‘Intellectual apathy’ by E.L. Baregu. I finished the second session of today with a story about my grandmother, but the relation to this poem is purely coincidental.

Intellectual Apathy

One day I’m gonna tire
of reasoning out with Darwin
on the origins of man,
for what then did god do
those seven days?
I’m simply gonna tire
of the sermons of the philosophers
on man and society,
on religion and politics,
on science and arts.

I say
I’m gonna stop prying
the colonial scars
that have healed outside but
bleed inside.

I simply will grow numb
to the thorns of imperialism
that prick my being and threaten
to disease it.

I’ll be apathic to this giant strangler.
I swear
I’ll close my eyes to the maleficence
of exploitation
I’ll just lie back and let it
sap me dry;
I’m gonna let its worms ravish
my flesh to the bones
That day
I shall reject completely the doctrine of Karl Marx.
I shall plead ignorance to any kind of ‘ism’
I shall appraise no more the efforts of Lenin,
I will block my mind to the thoughts of Mao.
That day,
     Before I’m finally engulfed,
     I shall go to grandpa to hear some

Asante Sana!

De trip zit erop – vanmorgen ben ik weer veilig geland op Schiphol, veel ervaringen en indrukken rijker. Dit zal (voorlopig) mijn laatste post zijn over de reis naar Tanzania.

De rit terug naar Dar Es Salaam was opnieuw adembenemend: er is zoveel te zien onderweg. Prachtige natuur, levendige straathandel, fleurig geklede mensen en Olifanten! Ja, dit keer had ik geluk. Een kudde Olifanten met een jong kwam drinken in Mikumi National Park, terwijl Danny en ik daar even wat aten. Vervolgens kwamen er nog Giraffen, Impala’s en verderop lagen Buffels en Zebra’s. Fantastisch en een geweldige afsluiting van mijn reis naar Iringa in Tanzania.

Blijft nu de vraag, hoe nu verder? In ieder geval heb ik wat vrienden gemaakt in Iringa met wie ik contact zal blijven onderhouden. En, uiteraard komt er een rapport voor mijn opdrachtgever Maastricht School of Management en Tumaini University.

Tot slot, wil ik graag alle meelevers en –lezers van mijn met avontuur in Iringa bedanken voor hun steun en ‘comments’. Ik bedank Henk Verbooy voor de link in IK Magazine, dat nog meer lezers en reacties opriep. 
Uiteraard bedank ik Dr. Bukaza Chachage en Reverend Cornelius Simba en alle medewerkers van Tumaini University en de Bibliotheek voor hun gastvrijheid, openheid, tijd en hulp om mij te woord te staan, wegwijs te maken en me thuis te laten voelen.

Last but not least, bedank ik Daniël (zie foto onderaan), mijn chauffeur en ‘personal assistant’ voor zijn geduld, begrip en uitleg.

Lieve mensen in Iringa: ASANTE SANA (heel erg bedankt) voor alles. Ik hoop dat dit geen ‘vaarwel’ is maar een ‘tot ziens’.

[English summary]

My journey has ended – this morning I arrived safely back in the Netherlands, packed with many experiences and impressions. This will be (for the time being) be my last post on Tanzania.

The trip back to Dar Es Salaam yesterday was again breathtaking: there is so much to see underway. Beautiful nature, lively street trade, colourful dresses people and Elephants! (see photo). Yes, this time I was lucky to see Elephants, Giraffe’s, Impala’s, Buffalos and Zebras in Mikumi National Park, when we were having lunch there. A fantastic and wonderful ending of my travel to Iringa in Tanzania.

The remaining question is, what’s next? In any case, I have made some friends in Iringa with whom I will keep in touch. And, of course there will be a final report submitted for my client Maastricht School of Management and Tumaini University.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all readers and friends in the Netherlands and abroad for their support and comments. I´m thanking Henk Verbooy of IK Magazine for putting a link up to my blog, which included even more readers.

Of course I´m thanking Dr. Bukaza Chachage and Reverend Cornelius Simba and all staff of Tumaini University and the Library for their hospitality, openness, time and assistance to see me, to familiarize me and letting me feel at home.

Last but not least, I´m thanking Daniel (see photo below), my driver and PA for his understanding, patience and explanations.

Dear all in Iringa: ASANTE SANA (Thank you very much) for everything. I hope this is not going to be a ‘farewell’ but a ‘goodbye’.

Tanzania, here I come!


[For the English speaking readers, please scroll down to read the English version]

Morgen, om deze tijd hang ik ergens hoog boven in de lucht, op weg naar Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. In opdracht van Maastricht School of Management, ga ik proberen een bijdrage te leveren aan de verdere ontwikkeling van de bibliotheek van de Tumaini Universiteit in Iringa.

Iringa ligt in het zuiden van Tanzania op bijna 1600 meter hoogte. De stad heeft ca. 100.000 inwoners en was lange tijd Duits grondgebied, totdat de Engelsen het gebied in bezit kregen na de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Het is daar nu ca. 30 graden Celsius en er wordt de komende dagen af en toe een bui regen verwacht. Dat wordt dus zomerkleren en een paraplu inpakken. De reis van Dar Es Salaam naar Iringa duurt ca. 6 uur per auto. Gelukkig word ik afgehaald en blijf een nachtje over voordat we verder reizen. In totaal ben ik dus bijna 2 dagen onderweg om van Baexem in Iringa te komen.

Wat ik in Iringa ga aantreffen is een grote verassing. In 2003 ben ik als eens in Afrika geweest, in Zuid-Afrika om precies te zijn, maar ik ga er maar vanuit dat Tanzania en met name Iringa wel iets anders is als Durban.
De website van de universiteitsbibliotheek ziet er veelbelovend uit, als je deze tenminste opgestart krijgt want vanmorgen lukte dat weer even niet. Ter voorbereiding op m’n bezoek heb ik talloze sites bekeken en veel informatie verzameld. Met name links, documenten en tools die ik hopelijk goed kan gebruiken, als ik aan het werk ga in de bibliotheek. Uit de mail correspondentie met Dr. Cornelius Simba, hoofd van de bibliotheek, begrijp ik dat men vooral behoefte heeft aan ‘information literacy’ lessen en hulpmiddelen. Voor alle zekerheid ook maar wat assessment en evaluatie documenten ‘ingepakt’ en natuurlijk stapels bronnen, met dank uiteraard aan het Information Centre van MSM.

Wordt deze reis een cultuurschok? Daar ga ik gemakshalve maar vanuit, dan kan dat tenminste niet tegenvallen. Maar ik ga ook uit van een prima tijd, samen met leuke mensen. De vele reizen die ik inmiddels heb gemaakt in Europa en daarbuiten, leverden altijd fijne contacten op en ik ga ervan uit dat dit hier ook het geval zal zijn.
Dus, Tanzania, here I come! en tegen jullie zeg ik Kwaheri – dat is ‘tot ziens’ in Kwiswahili, de taal van Tanzania.

Tomorrow, around this time, I will be up in the air on my way to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. On behalf of Maastricht School of Management , I’m going to work on the development of the library of the University of Iringa.
Iringa is situated in the south of Tanzania, at 1600 m. De city has 100.000 inhabitants and was German territory for a long time, until the English took over after World War I. It’s about 30 degrees Celsius there with occasional showers. So, this means I’m going to pack summer clothes and an umbrella. The journey from Dar Es Salaam to Iringa takes about 6 hours by car. Fortunately I’m being picked up at the airport and will stay overnight, before we continue the journey to Iringa. This means it takes almost 2 days to travel from Baexem to Iringa.

The actual situation in Iringa will be a big surprise for me. I’ve been in Africa before (in Durban – South Africa to be precisely), but I assume Tanzania and especially Iringa, will be quite different.
The website of the University Library looks promising, if you will be able to reach it, which I did not manage to do this morning. Preparing my trip to Iringa, I’ve visited numerous websites and gathered a lot of information. Especially web links, documents and tools, which I hope will be useful. I gathered from the mail correspondence with Dr. Cornelius Simba, Chief Librarian, there is special interest in ‘Information Literacy’ lessons and tools. To be on the safe side, I’ve also collected some assessment and evaluation documents and of course lots of resources, thanks to the MSM Information Centre.

Is this trip going to cause a culture shock? I’m counting on it, so I’m prepared. But I also expect to have a lovely time, together with nice people. The many journeys I’ve taken in and outside Europe, I’ve always met really nice people and I assume Iringa will not be different.
So, Tanzania, here I come! and to you I’m saying Kwaheri, which is ‘Goodbye’ in Kwiswahili, the language in Tanzania.