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A night in poverty

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I have arrived in Buhingu, a lakeshore village in Kigoma rural district after a 16-hour timber canoe ride and a Mr. John Nchambi is going to be my host for a night or two.

The evening of my arrival, we sit around a big fire in their shabby home, after a meal of ugali and boiled bean stew, listening to the news on a radio which is held together by string that is tied around it.

The biggest local news of the day is how donors had decided to slash budget support to the tune of USD 220 million. In the international news, the top story is that the Conservative party has floated a proposal to spend up to 0.7 percent of the British national income on aid by 2013.

A brief conversation ensues and is lit by a beam of moonlight allowed in through the front door as the fire fades away. Paraffin is exorbitantly expensive here and a lantern is only lit when a special guest is around.

The head of the home, a retired civil servant, pushes a discussion about what actually happens to aid money sent to the poor if they still have to fetch milky-colored drinking water from a village borehole shared with cows and sometimes contaminated with human waste.

He complains about a two-decade promise to build a water pump in the village that hasn’t been fulfilled and sadly closes the conversation cursing political leaders for promising to “clear poverty from people’s homes” during political campaigns but soon forgetting to do anything after winning elections.

Nchambi isn’t alone in his bitterness. This is the kind of experience that has for years been the norm in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, where over 70 percent of the Sub-Saharan Africa population lives as poverty continues to bite.

This is the bed I slept on at Nchambi’s house

As our conversation continues, Nchambi get vividly angry and points an accusing finger at journalists like for failing poor people by not holding corrupt leaders to account.

“How will your presence here help resolve our problems?” he asks.

I tell him that he had the power to make a difference in the forthcoming elections if he decided to use the power of the vote to choose a leader that he thinks is determined enough to work with Buhingu people to make poverty history.

It had looked like the conversation was starting to lighten up but at this, Nchambi angrily switches off his radio and orders everybody to go to bed. And with his radio in his hand, he disappears into his room.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. shaban

    22/07/2010 at 6:16 pm

    So were you left to sleep in the living room?

  2. Mpigafilimbi

    23/07/2010 at 12:58 am

    At least you got somewhere to sleep mate! I was nearly worried that it could have been difficult for you to get somewhere to rest let alone a house with a good floor!! It’s about time Tanzanians take charge of their destiny, they can do so, starting this October..

  3. mpisi

    09/08/2010 at 2:14 pm

    balozi mwapachu comments on lake victoria basin on bringing a investor what is your comments.

  4. Mziba

    22/09/2010 at 4:05 pm

    Kabendera you are a good writer. you describe the environment in a compassionate manners. I was completely moved by your presentation. Here is my take. there is a way to get mr. Nchambe to improve his income and living standard. We have a new business model to help specically this kind of families and smallbusness. We designed a system for econonic sustainabity.

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