My Travels Through Tanzanyisha – Part I

A few hectic weeks before I had not even heard of the place: Tanzanyisha. Yet, here I was, flying low over the lush tropical rain forest, as our DC 8 made its descent into the Mombazi Airport.

Ushanda City swept into view below: several aging glass and steel mid-rise towers of the 1960s International Style, hearkening to the early halcyon days of the Republic when the hated British had finally pulled out and independence was relished like the sweet, ripe fruit of the mango. A wide perimeter of low-lying bungalows, corrugated steel shacks, and shipping crates housed Ushanda’s hungry populace, and spread out to meet the uncertain edge of the steaming jungle.

And then we touched down.

Ushanda City
Flying into Ushanda City

Down the rolling stairway and onto the hot, shimmering midday tarmac. Suddenly I became aware of soldiers. Everywhere. Heavily armed. Rifles. Bandoliers. Grenades. I remembered the words of Richard Longtree, the often lyric author of Modern Journeys in East Africa, that I had purchased in Cairo and read on the plane:

Tanzanyisha has endured five military coup d’etats since 1990. Five regime changes. Five new constitutions each more outlandish and hollow than the one that came before. The people weep, but their tears are dry.

Inside the sweltering concourse large fans rippled the giant sheet of fabric bearing the vast likeness of Tanzanyisha’s newest President-for-Life, General Jonas Mombazi; Jonas Mombazi, DDS, who had risen from civilian dentist to rebel commandante, and finally self-promoted to his new and august position. His middle-aged face betrayed nothing about his personality; he hid his bad teeth behind bland, indifferent lips. A dentist should have good teeth. Since 2007 thirteen thousand of his countrymen had gone missing.

General and President for Life: Jonah Gombazi
General and President for Life: Jonah Mombazi

I got my duffel bag. The trip through customs was a perfunctory affair; a sullen looking soldier in camouflage fatigues and a black beret cast a quick glance in my direction and quickly jerked his head toward the exit. My passport was stamped and I stepped outside into the intense heat and near-blinding light of Jonas Mombazi Boulevard, a palm lined, four-lane strip of concrete that led into the potholed streets of Ushanda City. Twenty years of constant tank traffic had left its angry, chiseled marks.

Mad dogs and Englishmen. Noel Coward was right.

Friends Around the World

16 thoughts on “My Travels Through Tanzanyisha – Part I

  1. Dear Fullerton Harpoon (love that name!),

    Your insights to a foreign land and your ability to vividly convey the experience and give it life for readers is a genuine talent. If you ever decide to give up your day job, let me know, I think you would be a valuable asset to my team!

    – Rick

  2. Rick Steves :

    Dear Fullerton Harpoon (love that name!),

    If you ever decide to give up your day job, let me know, I think you would be a valuable asset to my team!

    – Rick

    Rick, I like 🙂 your travel blog, but I don’t like 🙁 you trying to steal the Harpoon from our blog. I’m not sure what our blog would be like without the Harpoon.

    1. Although I thank the Harpoon for posting my letter I think you should think about letting him/her go. Not a part of Team Fullerton!

  3. The Fullerton Observer may never get its facts right, but at least they don’t publish fiction….try googling this place. The only site it points to is here.

    1. “The Fullerton Observer may never get its facts right, but at least they don’t publish fiction”

      Well, that’s certainly a matter of opinion! BTW, yikes, you have something against fiction?

  4. What kind of a fool (idiot) would read this post and believe it was about Tanzania? What kind of a fool (idiot) posts comments as two people at the same time?

    Ron and Anna, please stay over on Art Pedroza’s blog. Art’s a good guy, but unfortunately has set the intellectual bar way too low for his blogmembers.

  5. *Oh…we get it….when your intellectual curiousity is at an all-time low….you make up worthless stories about non existent people and places and things and then laugh outrageously when people respond. Now we understand why you voted for Dick Ackerman!

    1. We only laugh outrageously when those folks with “intellectual curiosity” take something seriously that’s obviously fictional. If you look at Part II you may get it, but probably not.

      BTW, I have never voted for Dick Ackerman in my life although I’m missing the relevance.

  6. tanzanyisha could have crawled out of a graham greene novel. sadly, my ex-pat relatives who lived thirty years in africa have experienced the real counter-part of tanzanyisha. The moral of tanzanyisha is when incompetents run government they run it into the ground

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