Some History

I spent time in the Moshi library today, researching the Chagga people’s stories. Chagga are the people who live in Uru and they have a very rich history. They have always been peaceful – hardworking and committed to agriculture and family. The people here now are very interested in technology and education, seeing these things as a means of advancing themselves in the world.

The library was one more experience of how time has stood still here since British colonial occupation ended in 1961 and Tanzania became a sovereign country. The remnants of colonial times are everywhere, the buildings and homes still present but in ruin or disrepair, with little to no modern improvements. Apparently, there was no transitional effort when the British left, they simply picked up and went, when the new government was sanctioned. There was no effort ever made to work cooperatively as business people. When I asked about this, the older people themselves can’t explain it. If the British were fearful, which is likely, these peaceful Chagga people don’t understand it.

Many of the books in the library were from these times, with an absolute dearth of any more recent materials. In a country whose people prize education so much, it was one more heartbreaking realization of the long term effects… of short sighted politics and greed… and the resulting poverty. On the positive side, there were many young people in the library, studying quietly. They also fill the internet cafes here, anxious to be apprised of the world. They pay from 50 cents to one dollar an hour here, when they have the funds, to access the internet at these cafes.

Meanwhile, the village officials and local politicians are all highly motivated to work cooperatively with ICBD and one another, on behalf of the Uru Water Project. My challenge right now is too MUCH help… which is truly a GOOD problem to have! There is such HOPE here now, and for that, we are ALL grateful.

Barbara Joye

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