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Haruna and his impotence tales

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Call him Haruna, a taxi driver who giggles when wild motorists get into his way and hurl insults at him. He has been driving me around in his lousy car since I arrived in Kigoma, 16 days ago. He has no idea who I am and why I am here because he hasn’t bothered to ask. And he doesn’t complain, even when I pay him half the normal fare for town trips.

But when I asked him to drive me to Ujiji Township to catch a timber boat to Buhingu village one recent evening, everything about him changed.

Buhingu village is located hardly 133 kilometres from Kigoma town but it takes about 16 hours to reach there on a blessed day.

What is more, you are not guaranteed arrival. Lake Tanganyika on occasion turns violent and causes overloaded boats sailing its surface to succumb to its powerful currents.

Haruna will not be moved to make the journey. I glare at him. He holds his hairy face between the hands and breathes in and then out heavily. And then starts telling me how he starts telling me how he would never sail in a boat or swim, even in swamp.

“Why?” I ask impatiently.

PREPARING TO COMMUTE A BOAT TO BUHINGU

The fear is still looming in his face but he chooses not to answer my question and instead switches on the engine.

“I will drive you there but I don’t think a young person like you should put his life at risk,” he says in a trembling voice as we drive off.

My feet have started to shake gently but I somehow pull myself together enough to calmly ask him why he was making me feel panicky.

He catches his breath and begins to tell how as at age 10 he went swimming with his friends for the first time on the shores of Lake Victoria in Mwanza where he was born and bred.

When he came out of the water, his body was covered in a rash and he later fell very ill from a strange disease. It took him a year to recover, with a traditional healer’s help. But his penis didn’t show any sign of life for many years thereafter.

As Haruna continues telling me his story, we drive through a street crammed with tiny grass-thatched houses in the historic town of Ujiji. It was my first time there and topmost on my mind were the words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” uttered when Henry Stanley met with Dr. David Livingstone in the town which was at that time merely a fishing village.

Strangely enough, despite its historical entanglement with the famour missionary, Haruna tells me that Ujiji was probably one of the most superstitious townships in the country.

In Ujiji, nobody takes something which doesn’t belong to him without the permission of the owner. If someone says you will die that very night because he or she doesn’t like the way you behaved towards him, you need to go and apologise before sunset or prepare for your burial.

We are now near the Dr Livingstone memorial building and Haruna points at a small hut across the road where he tells me a prominent witchdoctor lives.

Being an election year, fuel-guzzlers will soon be seen around the hut as politicians go for consultation with the man before the start of their campaigns.

Oops! It was afterwards, when on the boat that I remembered: I had forgotten to ask Haruna if he ever found a cure for his impotence! Maybe when I come back in few days.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Marjan

    08/07/2010 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Erick,

    Great to be able to read your stories online from far away the Netherlands…..Greetings Marjan

  2. Injinia

    13/07/2010 at 4:08 pm

    Hello Kabendera. I must say your stories make very interesting reading.

    I am pleased to learn that there are Tanzanians, still, who can write so eloquently…on a non-academic matter.

    I am compelled to believed that our Haruna suffered from what is known as ‘swimmer’s itch’…usually one of the first signs of Schistosomiasis acquired from infested waters. As for his impotence…maybe the multiple remedial concoctions he received from the witch doctor?

  3. Injinia

    13/07/2010 at 4:09 pm

    Hello Kabendera. I must say your stories make very interesting reading.

    I am pleased to learn that there are Tanzanians, still, who can write so eloquently…on a non-academic matter.

    I am compelled to believe that our Haruna suffered from what is known as ‘swimmer’s itch’…usually one of the first signs of Schistosomiasis acquired from infested waters. As for his impotence…maybe the multiple remedial concoctions he received from the witch doctor?

  4. enos nkundwe

    27/08/2010 at 1:17 pm

    is an interesting story,Ask haruna or the boy was he normal before he went
    forswimming with his friends

  5. Yasser Mziba

    22/09/2010 at 8:10 pm

    Bwana Kebendere, you are a Griot. Keep that style you could be a narrator in a documentary. thus to increase scope of your career opportunity. I am from ujiji. I agree with 99% of your story I was in ujiji 2008 for feaseability study. your description takes me back. I think you represent truthfulness in reporting. I mean ujiji its home, lets tell like it is, maybe lets not blaming the politician, I think kaburu Phd. didnt make a dent. too much phylosopy Griots just like you Erick. We ‘ve gotta to change how they look at things, tuwaambie hamna magendo tena biashara khalali. Kisha tuwafundishe miundombinu kama nchi za magharibi. , they are very intellegent, remember Ujiji ndio vijiji vya kwanza kuikubali tanu na ya kwanza kuikanusha ccm wakadhani change require switching parties. . I like your story. I think we may need to design a development project for the communities surrounding lake tanganyika. We will train management. Such as a poverty alleviation MDGs. With the people here, we can make a deference.

  6. Mziba

    27/09/2010 at 7:17 am

    First,Injinia thanks for you posting. I can assure you that there is no Parasit on Ujiji beaches. Actually the lake in ujiji got big sand. If anyone wanna learn how to swim, please take a lesson into lake tanganyika. It’s clean and fresh. I am from the area around Dr. Livingstone memorial. So, when I was a kid, sometimes we would spend the whole day at the beach. Again no parasite, you are welcome. Of all the things I miss when I think of home, it’s the lake. She is beautiful and full of memories. Another thing guys, there is a lot myth and lagends in Ujiji, But that goes for all Kigoma including Kasulu and Kibondo, I think its engrained in our culture. I might also say that Ujiji is an encient town. All the looters went through ujiji, Arabs (i do not remember from what country), Germans, and Brits. they all relics. One day I’ll take you there, Inshaallah.

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