Only a few hours later, he called me.
“Mister Roy, I have Andrew Titus with me. He would like to meet you today.”
“Uhhh... well... OK, I guess.” I could have been uncomfortable since I had been planning to catch up on paperwork, but in truth, I was delighted and curious to meet him. “Can you bring him to the Outpost, say, at 4:00PM today?”
It was 1:30PM.
“Can we meet right away?” Spear asked.
At 1:35PM (they must have already been in the lobby), I was being introduced to a tall imposing “gentle giant” of a man, sixty-ish, soft spoken, dressed in khaki and sporting a wide leather safari hat (that he never removed). A few minutes later, the three of us were sipping tea and eating banana bread in the Outpost outdoor lounge. Andrew was anxious to meet me to discuss his education project.
In the village of Kikatiti, not far from Arusha, he owned a five-acre farm, where he grew maize and kidney beans. Retired from formal teaching at
primary schools, secondary schools and at a teachers college, he was now passionate about teaching vocational skills, carpentry, welding and sewing,
to disadvantaged children and teens in his community. Classes were held in whatever small building space was available on his property. His dream was
to build a primary school and vocational school on a vacant section of his property, but he needed help with funding. I said I might be interested in it as a future project of our organization, that we were still in a period of gestation, and that it would be some time before serious discussions could happen. It
would come down to our future fund-raising successes back in Canada. He was more than happy enough with that and before we parted, I agreed to take him up on his invitation for a visit to his farm before I left Tanzania.
xxxxxxxxxx Arusha is a city of experiences that are both fascinating and frustrating.
My business routine included regular trips from the Outpost Lodge to the city centre where I frequented the NBC bank, Kase’s bookstore and the photocopy shop, all within a short walking distance of each other. The trip was along the main east artery, Old Moshi Road, which ends at a traffic circle at the city centre. In the centre of the traffic circle is the Clock Tower, a reference point for tourist directions. From there, looking to the north, one could see the spectacular sight of Mount Meru.
From the traffic circle the route continues west through the centre of the city, along Sokoine Road, framed on each side by an endless proliferation of two- and three-storey commercial buildings, nondescript in style, but exuberant in colour, with small narrow- fronted shops at street level. Street vendors with their hand-drawn carts are stationed on corners where pedestrian traffic is plentiful. The carts are overloaded, some with fruit and vegetables, some with various artistic trinketry, and others with cheap electronics.
One vendor had an amazing stack of stereos, ghetto blasters and speakers, all precariously piled on top of each other at least five feet high on his cart.
I was amused at the thought of a customer selecting, and then trying to remove, the one at the bottom.
Vendors who didn’t have carts had managed to bargain with shop owners to hang their portable wares – crafts, artwork, maps, translation pamphlets – on any available space on the shop walls and adjacent screens, providing wonderfully complex and colorful displays. I felt a sense of admiration for their
incredibly time-consuming daily regimen of setting up and dismantling their merchandise, but also a certain sadness for what I imagined was little
The city’s Central Market, a few blocks north of Sokoine Road, is the hub of pedestrian hustle and bustle on weekdays as well as weekends. At the centre is the original open-air structure, a flimsy ferrous fabrication of post and beam frames covered with corrugated metal sheeting. Inside it, rows of stalls sell everything from nuts to notions, all meticulously arranged. That, together with the array of different fabrics worn by the crowds of female shoppers, presents a visual cornucopia of colorful patterns and textures.
The fast pace of the city’s growth in the last decade has resulted in the area of the Central Market spilling over into the surrounding streets where vendors neatly lay out their wares, mostly fabrics, fruits and vegetables, on blankets, or whatever sidewalk or ground space is available. Many of the narrow-fronted stores there are “one-item” shops; one sells the full spectrum of colorful Maasai blankets, another an array of fabrics, another countless seeds and nuts, and yet another, jars of delicious looking spices. The shop
design is very basic; typically, about eight feet wide, with a roll-up metal-slatted screen exposing just enough area for the customer to stand in front of a counter which extends across the full width of the room. In the shallow space behind the counter, on the back wall, the wares are neatly displayed on floor-to-ceiling shelving within easy reach of the proprietor.
I marveled at the many custom-order tailors, male and female, that set up sewing machines on sidewalks in front of their shops. As an advertisement of their talent, they would craft away, displaying a selection of fabrics along with completed orders on the shop’s front walls.
I was drawn in to one shop that displayed a fabric that had a pattern of beautiful African browns, blacks and golds, colors that would look perfect on Maureen. I interrupted the sewing of the handsome, well-dressed, middle-aged woman with my idea to order a custom skirt for my wife.