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Messages - David Marsh

This forum / Re: Introduction
12 August, 2015, 16:33
Just posted this in the Soa Hill section, in response to an open post from Simon Watson.  Worth repeating here:


David here - the one and only administrator.  I couldn't agree with you more.

As you may have found I set this site up in 2009 to help handle all the enquiries that were coming from the first (circa 2000) website about northern Tanzania (www.nTZ.info) in the hope that it would look after itself.....

It's not help by being swamped by trolls, and you will have noticed a lot of spam postings and a members list full of strange people.  At the new year, I think, I cleared them all out, and hope that all the members are now genuine - but many still "hide" behind nicknames making it hard to recognise people that you might know.  Not sure what to do about that.

Still get about 5 people a day trying to sign up, ignoring the advise to choose a username which is not a jumble of letters and numbers, and to make sure your dates in TX make sense. 

I suspect that the forum is not so easy to use, especially for people of our generation (school in TZ in the 1950's), and I have to say that the look and feel of the site is a bit dated.  Your post is an incentive to me to see if I can freshen it up with a new look.  These days it has to work on everything from big screens to small phones, with tablets in between.  I'm stuck a little with the system I committed to 6 years ago (Simple Machines Forum software) so am constrained by what is available.  Similarly I need to update nTZ.info - the software behind that has totally broken!

I'm tempted to take them all down, but as you will see from the stats the Forum gets about 70 thousand hits a months. 1.8 million in 2014.  And nNZ.info had just under 100 thousand vists last year, which is not bad for a website that hasn't been updated for nearly 10 years (the history and the content is all still good!).

Any suggestions you, or anyone else, might have about how to regenerate interest in our past, and help encourage contact between people with that past in common, will be very welcome.

Arusha School / Re: The tortoise (kobe)
12 August, 2015, 16:10

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.
More from the Arusha Times Issue 00590 October 24 - 30, 2009

Arusha School to celebrate 75th  anniversary  next year

By Staff Reporter

The latest postponement now sees Arusha School by-passing its 75th anniversary celebration targeting to observe the event next year when it will be 76 years old.

The management has said the shelving of the event is due to a number of reasons.

Arusha School, which is Tanzania's oldest English Medium institution, was supposed to mark the milestone this Saturday, October 24 but for some reason the event has been postponed to May 2010.

It will still be regarded as 75th anniversary despite taking place in May next year.

"There are various reasons why the celebrations will no longer take place this October as previously announced and one is that, Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda who was to be guest of honor has his timetable booked for the whole of this year," Mr Khamis Rajab Kaniki Arusha School headmaster explained.

According to Mr Kaniki, the school management is also undertaking a major project of putting fresh layers of tarmac on the badly worn school roads network something which now prevents vehicles from entering the premises.

The Danish International Development Agency which has been funding the renovation of Arusha School buildings is also footing the bill for the re-construction of its in-campus roads.

Founded in May 1932 Arusha School, located along Fire road in Arusha Municipality is the country's first ever English Medium Primary School spawning an alumni base of close to 20000 former students, teachers and subordinate staff.

These are spread all-over the globe, another reason for the event's postponement.

"Many former students, parents and workers have requested that we should celebrate the anniversary in May 2010 because that is usually the holiday season in Europe where most of the alumni currently live," the headmaster maintained.

This is the second time that Arusha School postpones its 75th anniversary celebrations.

Previously the event was to be observed on the 25th of May, 2009. This is the exact date of the school's seven-and-a-half decade milestone. However directives from the Ministry of Education advised the date to be pushed forward to October 24 to allow the institution complete all exam arrangements.
Further email from Arusha School (28 September)

Dear Friend of Arusha School ,

I hope every one there is fine.

I would like to request you to provide me with your names so that we can give you certificate of appreciation as one of our donors.

The School is marking 75th years of existence on 24th October, 2009 and we are providing certificates for all who have assisted our school. And you are one of them. More details on the day [Anniversary] will be sent to you before 5th October so that you can know what will take place. We are finalizing the schedule for that day soon.

Looking forward to hear from you soon.
Tanganyika / Re: Serengeti sanctuary 1929
02 October, 2009, 14:46
There's mention in Kay Turner's book "Serengeti Home".  page 20

"Captain Arundell is first Game Warden of the [Serengeti] sanctuary. He built the headquarters at Banagi."
Tanzania / Re: Mbeya coffee
24 September, 2009, 10:33
[hope you don't mind my moving the post - it sits better in the Tanzania Section]

Within Tanzania, coffee from Mbeya is being produced and marketed by the Rift Valley - Zanzibar Company.  (I bought some in Iringa two weeks ago).

Their Mbeya coffee come from the Utengule Coffee Estate and is sold as Rift Valley coffee in attractive packaging.

I don't know if it's exported at all.
Arusha School / Re: The tortoise (kobe)
19 August, 2009, 15:20
So if they were brought by your father, that would be in the 1930's.  Any idea of how old they were then, or where they came from.  My guess is that they are Aldabra Tortoises from the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, or maybe from Zanzibar, where there is said to be a small population.

[btw, to add pictures, click on "Additional Options" when you are making a post]
Arusha School / Re: Some photos from 1994
07 July, 2009, 18:04
Meru Climbers

Sign over door to passage by Headmaster's office
Arusha School / Some photos from 1994
07 July, 2009, 18:00
Junior School Buildings

Classrooms - I was in the middle room aged about 9

Main Building. Older classrooms to left. Headmasters Office in centre. Dining Hall behind.

Dining Hall, in 1994 still with the tables and wall boards from the 1950's.
Arusha School / Re: The tortoise (kobe)
07 July, 2009, 17:53
In August 1994