Mzungu

Name ID 2445

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 125b
Extract Date: 1996

West of Dodoma

West of Dodoma, we took yet another rough, sandy road, this time headed towards Manyoni, a railway town and the centre of a tobacco-growing region, about 140 kilometres away. Wagogo herdsmen struggled to make a living in this desolate land, sometimes, according to Burton, resorting to extortion from the caravans: "In Ugogo," he wrote, "the merest pretext the loosing a hot word, touching a woman, offending a boy, or taking in vain the name of the sultan infallibly leads to being mulcted in cloth."

We stopped to camp at 5:00 p.m., and were asleep that night by 8:30.

We were up at 5:45 a.m. the next day, to the by now familiar sound of doves cooing and hornbills drumming. It was light early on the plains, and we roused ourselves as soon as the world started moving around us. In this early part of our journey, my mind was always on Burton and his struggling train of reluctant porters with all their complaints and mutinies. We were now entering Burton's Third Region, which he described as the flat table-land from the Wasagara Mountains to Tura in Unyamwezi, rising gently to the west.

We broke camp at 8:00 a.m. and set off westward towards Manyoni and Tabora. We passed numerous villages, and along the way were reminded that the Swahili word for "white man" is Mzungu, which comes from Mzungu kati, Meaning "wandering around in circles, going nowhere." I was beginning to understand why. Manyoni, when we reached it, appeared to be little more than a dusty strip of small hotels: Manyoni Inn, Royal Hotel and Inn, Caribuni Hotel, Central Line Hotel, Video Inn, Dara Inn. These "hotels" were really small restaurants or tea houses. We looked in the market for a hengo, a unique, long-handled knife used by the Wagogo. No luck.

Extract ID: 5753
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