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For a longtime my hobby has been "East Africa", specifically northen Tanzania, and have been collecting extracts from books and newspapers.
In preparing for a visit in 1994, I collected extracts related mainly to the places we would be visiting. But now they have grown more extensive.
The first thing is to acknowledge that they are extracts - some-one else’s work. My contribution is to copy and arrange them. I have tried very hard to include all the extracts verbatim, and not to paraphrase or contract them. I also try to acknowledge all the sources.
I say that my contribution is to select and arrange them. In doing so I am obviously driven by my own interests and impose an editorial view on their contents. The arrangement, however, is straightforward, alphabetical by name, with an emphasis on chronology.
The reasons for the selections are more complex. Some are there just because I find them interesting, and I can find no theme to link them to other extracts. Some are there just in case a theme emerges and they will then have interest because of later correlations.
Geographically the selection is very focused on Northern Tanzania, and specifically the area with which I am familiar - from Arusha, through the Oldeani foothills, to Ngorongoro and to the Serengeti.
Part of my interest is to find out the people who lived and worked in the area in the 1950s - the period when we lived there, my father working, and me as a young boy. Many of the books available concentrate on the period before ‘Africanisation’ in the early 1970s, and are published either as history and analysis, or as memoirs of a personal experience.
This interest is extended back in time to find out more about the early Europeans in the area, and when things like the first roads were built, and when the game parks were developed for wildlife study or tourism.
Inevitably politics intrudes and it becomes fascinating to understand more about the German and British influences. Several types of Europeans make a living by farming; the administrators and government officers and officials, often well intentioned, but just as often completely inept, but always moving on; the park managers and the wildlife experts (often in conflict) who protected and studied the environment and the animals, and helped develop the National Parks. Often the roles merge, and of course there is the additional influence of the missionaries.
Reading more, it becomes clear that nearly everything published has a European focus. Partly this must be because the experience of a white man in Africa was unique and, to the individuals especially, very memorable. This may lead them to write about it, whereas for the African, this was their ordinary life, so why write about it.
Hence I have tried to extend my reading to finding out more about life before the European, and discover that Tanzania was a relatively stable and prosperous country until being ravished by the slave trade, and by a series of disasters and calamities over 100 years ago, not least of which was the extension of European influence.
Thence to try to find out more about the impact of the European on the African, and discover about the influence of land alienation, and the consequent deprivations imposed on a growing population. Studies have been done in great detail about the Warusha and the Wameru peoples, and Fosbrooke has described the development of the Oldeani farms.
One day, perhaps, I shall find the way to develop these extracts into a more coherent history and description of the area and the people. Meanwhile, they are collected here just as a source of extracts and references.
If there is a theme connecting them, and which provides a link connecting the past and the present, then perhaps it is the Oldeani/Karatu farms. Here some of the tensions between European farmer and native land rights have been enacted, together also with the conflicts between the German and British influences, and the way they changed the lives of the local people.
These farms also borders on the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. Everyone who has travelled there will have passed the farms, and the farms themselves, being next to the forests, are familiar with the challenges of wildlife management. Some have contributed to the wildlife preservation by involvement in tourism and safaris.
Over the last few years the site has attracted a lot of feedback - maybe 200 emails a year, of which about 140 are published. Many of these relate to people's recollections of childhood, and their time at the schools in Tanzania, and especially Arusha School.
The site was developed before Friends Reunited or Facebook had ever been heard of, but now it struggles to match expectations for a social interaction site. I wish I had the time or the skills to develop it further and make it easier for people to keep in touch. One day I'll find a way, but meanwhile, please enjoy the site as it is, and be patient with it's limitations.
updated March 2009