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Arusha School / Re: The tortoise (kobe)
« Last post by David Marsh on 12 August, 2015, 15:10 »

Tanzania: 'Sir Alex', Country's Ancient Reptile That Still Lives in Arusha

By Marc Nkwame

Arusha — Nobody knows for sure how old 'Sir Alex' could be at the moment, but experts estimate that it could be hitting the 200 years (two centuries) mark now, making him the oldest creature in Tanzania and the 'most ancient' around the East African plateau.

The second mystery of 'Sir Alex' is that despite the male title, no one can tell whether the animal, which happens to be a tortoise, is male or female, but as it happens, pupils at the Arusha Primary School (Arusha School) in which the large reptile resides, prefer to call him or her, Babu (grandpa).

'Sir Alex' apparently is not a native Tanzanian tortoise, because it was reportedly shipped here from Australia in the early 1920s. History has it that three tortoises arrived in the country nearly 100 years ago. One was left in Dar es Salaam and believed to be either dead or simply disappeared.

The other two tortoises were dispatched up North. Along the way one was reportedly left at Moshi and got deposited at a wildlife institution there, but even this one remains a mystery whether it is still alive or died in Kilimanjaro. Now the third tortoise which was eventually given to Arusha School is the subject of this narrative. The reptile has remained at the institution for the last 90 years or so.
This is the 'Sir Alex' we are talking about. "The eye, the spirit and crown of Arusha School," said the Headmistress, Mwalimu Angela Kitigwa. What she meant was that the school was built around the tortoise and when the institution eventually opened for first pupils' intake in 1932, 'Sir Alex' was already a vegetarian veteran there.

Originally, Arusha School was established in Arusha in 1934 as a private co-educational school for European children, but in 1972 it was taken over by the government, becoming the first English-Medium Primary school educating students from Kindergarten to Primary 7.

Located along Fire Road, adjacent to another legendary city's landmark, The Arusha Hotel, the English-Medium institution currently functions both as a boarding and day school.

Many efforts to steal, abduct or relocate the famous tortoise have been botched but not without some effects; for instance, the reptile now features a slightly fractured upper shell, believed to be the act of a stray bullet.
"There have been various attempts to abduct our tortoise with the latest episode being the one which a Toyota Land-Cruiser SUV drove into the compound and a gang of men stormed out, carried the animal into the vehicle but the situation was saved by children who thronged the car screaming," said Mwalimu Pelle Ibrahim Shaibu, a retired teacher who taught at the school between 1981 and 2007.
The alarm raised by the children caused the mysterious men to flee, dropped the tortoise, jumped back onto their vehicle and sped off.

It seems there are some hidden reasons why some parties are craving to get hold of the ancient reptile. "This tortoise which throughout its life has never been named, until recently when the 'Sir Alex,' title came up, is very popular worldwide because more than 20,000 former pupils and staff who attended our school fondly remember the animal and constantly ask about it," said the school headmistress.

Large as it is and menacing as it looks, the giant tortoise, however, is a favourite among the school pupils, many of whom enjoy taking a slow ride on its back around the school compound, mapped within 48 acres, dotted with shrubs trees and bushes.

David Read now aged 95 is a famous British author behind popular book titles such as 'Barefoot Over Serengeti' and 'Another load of Bull,' once rode on the back of the tortoise when he was a pupil at Arusha School in 1936.
The legendary tortoise caused global uproar once when news started circulating, claiming that wildlife officials had gone to the school and confiscated the country's oldest reptile.

"But the residents of Arusha, pupils, parents and alumni of the school should not worry because the tortoise has been restored back to the school," revealed the headmistress who also admitted that, indeed the incident was an issue of great concern among members of the school as well as its global community.

One of the old students sent an email with concern regarding the tortoise; saying "I have read one of the items on face book regarding the tortoise that was at the school, taken away because there was no permit for the school to own it."

"I was born in Arusha in 1949 and my father was a master at the school and indeed I grew up in the school grounds, where the tortoise became part of the school life.
On my visit back to the school four years ago I was very pleased to see it is still there." And many are indeed pleased to learn that Sir Alex is still fine and doing well though many of the mysteries surrounding this Tanzania's oldest organism may not be solved in the near future.
Tanganyika / Re: Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Simon Watson on 31 July, 2015, 08:41 »
Hi Graham,

Sorry,no photos of Lady Lead's house. As far as I know she didn't have to work! I believe it's possible that Sisal grew on her plantation and she derived a living from the sales,especially as in the 50s Tanga was the largest exporter of Sisal in the World.

Best regards,
Tanganyika / Re: Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Graham Hutton on 26 July, 2015, 10:06 »
Hi Simon,
Thanks for trying with the contact.
Let's hope something comes through.
I don't suppose you can find a picture of Lady Leads's house...would be great to see!
Do you know what she did for a living?
Would be interested to know.
Tanganyika / Re: Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Simon Watson on 22 July, 2015, 19:01 »
Hi Graham,

I have been waiting for news regarding my Father's old Architect friend before writing back but no joy as yet! It might take a while as my Dad is no longer around and i have contacted a couple of people who are now unfortunately not totally compos mentis! Very sad!

Lady Lead...That's a name I remember even as a child. Massive house!My parents knew her and went to Bridge parties etc..

Tanganyika / Re: Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Graham Hutton on 20 July, 2015, 04:30 »
Thanks for looking for me Simon and its' great to hear from you.
My grandfather did a couple of garages for Riddoch, some for Motor Mart & Exchange, Tanganyika Motors and Benbros Motors.
I think the only building he did in Tanga was the house for Lady Lead.
Please let me know if you have any success with your fathers architect friend.
As for my grandfather, I don't think he had any time for the cricket or tennis, but he may have been part of the club as it would have been good for business?
I think 1956 was the last year that any of the Bransgrove girls attended Sao you just missed them!
Look forward to hearing back from you.
Tanganyika / Re: Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Simon Watson on 19 July, 2015, 10:59 »
Hi Graham,
I have been looking through my Father's Photo Albums and Dar address book between 1961 and 1966 hoping to find something for you but nothing has come to light,but i do know that he had an Architect friend from Dar who might still be alive.I will check. Do you know whether your Grandfather was a Cricketer or Tennis player and frequented the Gymkhana Club? Knowing this might help.

It's so strange reading about your Mother and her sisters. They are older than me, but i too went to Sao-Hill,but between 1957 and 1961 and in the 50s whilst we were living in Tanga, we used to go to Lushoto to take out friends at the School there or play Cricket. Also being a car nut even then, i remember Riddoch Motors all over Tanganyika.
Best regards...
Tanganyika / Tanganyika Architect
« Last post by Graham Hutton on 07 July, 2015, 09:30 »
I am writing, not as an ex Tanzanian, rather the son of one!
My mother, Penny Bransgrove, went to the Junior European School in Dar es Salaam from 1949 to 1952 and then to Southern Highlands School, Sao Hill between 1952 and 1956. She then went onto Limuru for Secondary education.
Her older sisters Diana and Julie went to Arusha School between 1949 and 1952, before boarding in England. Her 2 younger sisters, Pauline and Liz (twins) followed my mother at the same schools a few years later. I think they also went to Lushoto School from 1957 to 1959.
Now some of you may recognise their names and you are welcome to enquire after them. My main reason, however, for writing on this forum is to find out if any of you can help me with my research into my grandfather, Peter Bransgrove. He had his own architectural practise in Dar es Salaam, between 1948 and 1966 named C. A. Bransgrove & Partners. He designed the Junior European School in Dar. Here is a web site showing some of his work.
I would be interested to hear if anyone remembers my grandfather or his family. I would also be interested in photos that you may have of some his buildings. I would also love to hear from any of you who were the children of architects, engineers, surveyors, planners or builders.
As an aside, I would be grateful if anyone knows who designed the Riddoch Motor Company’s premises in Arusha in the 1950’s? It’s a wonderful looking building.
Thank you
Graham Hutton
Mbeya / Re: Mbeya pictures from 1963 and going 'home'
« Last post by Walter on 21 February, 2015, 11:47 »
Great to see pictures of mbeya, brings back memories. I caught up with edward halwenge when he was in form 4 and i was in form 2. I knew mark and peter rowland. I used to hang with these guys. I wonder what ever happened to them?
Tengeru / Re: Polish Refugees in Tengeru
« Last post by stopnicka on 08 December, 2014, 14:58 »
Hi Julia. My name is also Julia. My sister Krystyna and her mother (not my mother, but we share a father) Jadwiga Stopnicka we think were at the Tengeru Camp from 1942. We don't have any other info. Did you find out anything?
Mbeya / Re: Mbeya School 1955-1959
« Last post by dbking on 03 November, 2014, 20:33 »
I've been reading through a variety of the topics here and have thoroughly enjoyed the comments of others who attended Mbeya School during this period. These comments, along with the photos that some have posted, sure bring back a flood of memories. My parents lived in Tukuyu so I was a boarder during this time - began when I was 6, so I'd guess that I was in Standard 1?.

I've recently found a Google Earth view of the school (8°55'28.00"S - 33°24'46.00"E), which is now a technical school, and it looks almost exactly as I remember it almost 60 years ago!

--I fondly remember wrestling with my best friend (whose name I cannot remember), rolling around on the grass outside the dorm right after bathing before the evening meal.
--I remember the dining hall, the meals, the drum beat that called us to meals ... I still beat it out once in a while for my kids and grand kids.
--I remember the dorms, the matron, the communal baths; the classrooms, inkwells, spitballs (I remember that I broke a girl's glasses with one once) ... and the "Kiboko" on occasion.
--I remember the movies, the backstage area of the auditorium, climbing up into the attic of the auditorium and changing the time on the clock ... then climbing through the attic areas above the classrooms and rest-rooms - the girls' was always of interest ...
--I remember my first game of rugby - I was hooked! Played it from then on through high school.
--I remember the walks in the forested areas around the fields - finding mouse remains from the owls.
--I had friends who lived at a Bible School a few miles from Mbeya School toward Mbeya mountain - and their dog showed up at the school on occasion looking for me.

There are so many other memories that have flooded my mind since finding this site. I'd sure love to go back sometime just to relive some of these memories ...

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