Name ID 2446
Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 130
Extract Date: 1996
We chugged and bumped along the dirt road through dense, brown thorn thickets, first in a southerly direction, then west. The road followed a relatively straight path very near the railway line. After the central railway leaves Dodoma, it drops down past the Bahi Swamp, then climbs the escarp-ment of the rift valley. It continues along the caravan route and through what is known as the Itigi Thicket before the land opens out into Myika country. The track finally exits the tsetse-ridden woods and slides into Tabora station.
Itigi, forty-two kilometres from Manyoni, is where Thad Peterson's missionary parents had arrived by railway in 1952, en route to the Iambi area, where Thad was later born. There are still Christian missionaries all over Tanzania as well as in Uganda and Kenya.
Outside Itigi we continued running alongside the railway. Again there was dense thorn thicket on either side of the road and occasional herdsmen, but the population was much sparser along this straight road fifteen metres from the railway track, which cut through very flat land.
Between the first gradient of the Rubeho Pass and Tabora, Burton and Speke passed through thirty-three stations. Although hardly any of the place names that Burton mentioned appeared on our maps, many were recognized by the local inhabitants. When I first read Burton's The Lake Regions of Central Africa, I was struck by the whimsical literal translations he provided for place names. I was again reminded of this when we reached Kazi Kazi, a small railway station whose name means "work-work." I was never really sure whether this name implied colonial criticism of the natives or native criticism of the colonials.