Jambo from Tanzania, March 2005

I arrived in Arusha at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro yesterday evening – just a little too late after sunset to glimpse the challenge which lies ahead!  It’s already a place of intoxicating contrasts – from the dusty streets and insistent tour touts, to the Masaai tribesmen from Kenya to the north wearing their traditional red check garb in the town, to the Muezzin (Muslim call to prayer) that awoke me at sparrowfart this morning blasting from the loud speakers in the streets.

Today I have spent most of the morning at the United Nations International Crime Tribunal for Rwanda which is based here in Arusha, prosecuting the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.  There is a public gallery for each of the 2 courts in session and I watched the cross-examination of one of the advisors of Colonel Renzaho, the main figure with a direct hand in the massacres in the capital of Kigali.  I really wasn’t sure what to expect from watching legal proceedings but incredulously as question after question was answered by this witness he described in graphic detail his involvement of the rape and murder of Tutsi Rwandans in Kigali on the days of the 6th and 7th April 1994, following the assassination of the President returning from last ditch peace talks in Tanzania.  It’s a little hard to explain the impact – but suffice to say that I’ve found myself well outside my first-world comfort zone over the last few days, being confronted with the realities of civil unrest and humanitarian atrocities that have taken place on this African continent.  Anyone not believe we live in the lucky country?

Anyhow, I think I am going to take a less emotionally taxing option tomorrow and go stretch my legs and take in some of the scenery.  I am leaving on a 4 day trek to climb Mt Meru tomorrow (4566m) – which is apparently a more stunning journey than Mt Kilimanjaro, but will also give me some altitude training before I climb Mt Kilimanjaro next week.

I have been running into lots of other mzungos (tourists in Swahili – literally it translates to “he who wanders aimlessly” – I guess it probably looks like that!) So.. no shortage of people to drink Kilimanjaro lager with.

Hakuna matata! (yes that’s swahili for all you lion king lovers)

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