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What foreign visitors say about us!

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Dingswayo, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Dingswayo

    Dingswayo JF-Expert Member

    Mar 8, 2012
    Joined: May 26, 2009
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    I picked this from a bikers forum in which I belong. This is what one of the bikers had to say about the African countries he had visited. Please take note on what he says about Tanzania. Is he right?

    Africa: Our Impressions
    Having only spent two months in Africa, we certainly can't speak from a position of authority, but we thought we would share our impressions of the countries we visited.

    South Africa.
    With all the negative news about South Africa, we were reluctant to visit. We searched hard for a shipping option that would allow us to avoid Johannesburg, especially because of Joburg's reputation for violence and murder. Cape Town was a nice place to visit, with little in the way of hassles, but we did heed the warnings and didn't venture out after dark. The rest of South Africa was surprisingly nice, and all the people we met were very friendly. Once outside of Cape Town, we never worried for our safety. South Africa is an easy place to visit for westerners, as English is widely spoken and most businesses operate as they do in the west (eg. There are modern supermarkets that look like the ones at home and sell similar foods). The roads are also very good, and petrol is widely available. The scenery is beautiful, the weather in the western Cape is temperate, but the food can be monotonous. Overall, it was the least “African” country we visited.


    Again, a very easy country for westerners to visit, since it's similar to South Africa in many respects. The people are friendly, the roads are good, businesses operate in a familiar way. It is a little more challenging than South Africa due to the distances between population centers. Namibia is a vast country with very few people, and consequently towns are very far apart, especially in southern Namibia. Southern Namibia is a land of desert and dunes and wild coast, whereas the north is dry, but has more vegetation and more people, and much less of a German influence. One big problem with touring Namibia on motorcycles is that they are not permitted in any of the national parks (though this is true through most of southern Africa). Like South Africa, the food choices are limited.

    Our impressions are based on the extreme northeast corner of Botswana, and therefore, may not be reflective of the rest of the country. Another easy country for westerners to visit but with the bonus of more wildlife. Businesses and services work as westerners would expect, and the borders are very orderly. In the area we visited, English was widely spoken and travel was easy. The people were also very friendly.

    A more challenging country to visit for westerners due to Mugabe's many failed policies. The borders are chaos, and it seemed like no two people were charged the same rate for visas. The roads varied in quality from okay to horrible, and petrol was only available at about every third station. Prices for food, accommodation, and fuel are higher than they are in the US. The people were not unfriendly, but they appeared too downtrodden to be friendly. The whole mood of the country, with the exception of Harare, was different from any other country we visited. The people seemed dispirited and like they were simply going through the motions. While westerners would find restaurants and grocery stores there familiar, there are ongoing food shortages that limit the supply and variety at both places. We would not visit Zimbabwe again.

    Our impressions of Mozambique are based on our trip through the Tete corridor and may not reflect the rest of the country. The borders were chaotic, but the border officials themselves seemed professional. This was one of the most “foreign” places we visited in that English was not widely spoken, and Portuguese is the national language. While we were not asked for any bribes at the police checkpoints, we heard from numerous other travelers that they were shaken down by the police. The Tete corridor is an unlovely and unfriendly place, and we won't be back.

    It should be an easy place for westerners to visit, but right now, it's not. The country is compact, the people are extremely friendly, English is widely spoken on the tourist trail, there was more variety in the food choices, and the scenery is beautiful. The real problem with Malawi right now is that the government is basically on the verge of collapse and hasn't paid their bills for quite some time. This is turn, has led to a massive fuel shortage and subsequent skyrocketing prices for basic goods and services. Another major irritation in Malawi is the constant chorus of, “give me money” that you hear from every kid, everywhere, and the attitude of many of the adults is no different, Malawi is a nation of beggars. That said, we would love to go back if they were to fix the supply issues.

    For us Tanzania is a tale of two countries. We loved western Tanzania, but did not particularly care for Dar Es Salaam. English is not as commonly spoken as in other countries, as Swahili is the official language. On the tourist trail you can get by, but off the trail, it's more difficult. The scenery in western Tanzania is very beautiful, with mountains and forests and wildlife. The farther east you travel, the hotter, more humid, and less attractive it gets. Petrol, ATMs, and food are widely available, as are good accommodations. The roads are chaotic due to the higher population and relative affluence that allows for more private car and bike ownership. The roads are generally in good condition but are marred by speedbumps across the highway in every place that might qualify as a town. Dar Es Salaam is just a big, ugly city with too many people, too much traffic, and too many diesels belching fumes in your face. Tanzania has more food choices, including Indian and Middle Eastern options. Their currency is currently in a free fall, and consequently, many businesses insist on being paid in USD, which is available from forex bureaus at a bad rate.

    One thing that struck us about Africa in general, is how cheap human life is. The rate of murder and violent crime, the prevalence of home invasions, carjackings, and banditry in general, are astounding. Living in the US we are used to a certain level of violence and murder, but in Africa it is done with amazing cruelty, with machetes and gasoline soaked tires. The willingness of Africans to kill Africans over a few dollars or tribal hatred is sobering. While men seem to most often be the victims of murder, women and children fare equally poorly in African societies. The amount of sexual violence and cruelty that both women and children are subjected to is unforgivable, and the daily newspapers bring fresh accounts of new atrocities. Everywhere we went, people live behind bars, virtually every door, every window, on every house and every building has bars. Businesses surround themselves with armed guards, most of them nothing more than a uniform and a rusty old gun.
  2. B

    Bulesi JF-Expert Member

    Mar 8, 2012
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    Very objective impressions of the countries they visited!! Unfortunately, they never visited the southern highlands of Tanzania during their visit, that would have given them the temperate feel of our diverse climatic conditions.