Wacky Marketing #2

Here’s a Pirelli tires sign that is posted up around the mizungo area of town.

The thing that cracks me up about this sign is not the ridiculously small font or the image of the fist.  It’s the message: “Power is nothing without control.”  What I think of when I see this sign is the Tenesco road that I take most work days to get from Colleen’s office to Sawyer’s school.  It’s a little over a mile from this sign.  Yep, these people have to be worrying about whether they will be able to control that Porsche as it rounds the corner at 90 mph.

Or maybe they are advertising to this guy.  I’m sure he’s really worried about whether he is getting enough gripping control out of his tires.

Sure there are some nice cars here; I have seen Mercedes, a Porsche Cayenne, some BMWs.  I have even heard that there is a Ferrari that cruises around on the Masaki peninsula.  But there just aren’t that many of them.  

There are a ton of 10 year old RAV4s and Celica’s around town though.  I would think that Pirelli would want to target them with a more relevant advertising campaign.  Of course I’m not an advertising guy.  Maybe Bob Bachle can make sense of it all for us.

… and the Ocean Shipment Arrives

I’ve been falling off the blog wagon the past week because our ocean shipment arrived last Tuesday.  (Yeah!)

Ironically it got here only five days after our “expedited” air shipment.  That’s good luck for us though and we’ve been knee deep in boxes ever since.

I’ve got a lot of good things to post though, so I’m going to try to get back to the routine this week.

The Air Shipment Finally Arrived

The long-awaited air shipment arrived last Thursday evening.  It was like Christmas.  The kids had a moment of panic when they thought that I had not packed the new games for the Wii in the shipment.  But we found them at the bottom of the second to last box and peace was restored.

Ironically, the ocean shipment may arrive this Tuesday, less than a week after the air shipment.  It’s lucky for us that the ocean shipment is coming so quickly but it does make the paperwork that delayed the air shipment all the more frustrating.

Monkey Gland Sauce and the Stanford Band’s “Tuna Colada”

Monkey Gland Sauce (MGS)  is redolent of that less well known game day creation called the “Stanford Band Tuna Colada Bathtub Drink”.  In addition to the staid ingredients listed on the blog’s link, such as onions, Worcester sauce, etc., SBTCBD includes the essential ingredients of several bottles of Vodka, a variety of sale items from the grocery store shelves and the magic eponymous ingredient—canned Tuna.  While no monkeys are harmed in MGS,  Tunas are definitely harmed in the crafting of this haut cuisine, as are the brains of the Stanford Band members who imbibed the drink. 

Three Pop Culture Icons I Didn’t Expect To See in Tanzany

I keep running into these.  At least in Dar. 

  1. Che Guevara.  We’ve seen his famous profile on bumper stickers, t-shirts, posters.  Seems to be particularly popular with bujaji (motorized rickshaws) and dalah-dalah (bus) drivers.
  2. Wham!  I’ve heard “Careless Whispers” at least six times over the past three weeks on different radio stations.  And these were in some unlikely, non-mizungo places. 
  3. Freddie Mercury.  Turns out he was born in Zanzibar and lived there until his mid-teens before his parents emigrated.

 I have no idea what it all means.  Particularly the George Michaels popularity.

Death on a Sunday Afternoon

Thus far, I’ve spent most of my time on this blog focusing on the zany aspects of Tanzania.  But I have a serious post today about a tragic story.  The events we witnessed yesterday certainly had some zany elements, but I’m not going to focus on those; they are unimportant.

Sunday we decided to take a family trip to the Kinduchi Beach Resort.  This is a beautiful resort hotel about 45 minutes north of Dar, which has a waterslide park as well as a nice palm covered beach. Sawyer had been asking to go there for several weeks, as it is the only pool that we have found here that has a diving board. Our new friends, Jaco, Michelle and their five-year old son Sydney came along.

After a couple of hours at the run-down waterslides (two slides operational out of six), we moved to the hotel beach.  Jaco had brought two new paddleboards to try out in the ocean.  These paddleboards are like large surfboards that you can kneel or stand on and paddle through the waves.

An hour or so after we arrived, I was watching the boys at the pool and Jaco, Michelle and Colleen were paddling the boards around off shore.  Looking at them on the beach, I saw an Asian man in swim trunks running down the beach waving his arms at Michelle and Jaco.  It was a long beach and it took him three or four minutes to get close enough to them to catch their attention.  Michelle went running up the beach immediately and Jaco followed as fast as he could lugging the 45-pound paddleboard.

I stayed with the boys so I didn’t see what happened next, but Colleen told me later what happened. The hotel is on a point with a lagoon on the south end and a long beach stretching out from there, separated by a long sandbar acting as a breakwater.  Four Chinese men had gone out swimming after having a large lunch.  Tragically they went swimming on the lagoon side of the breakwater rather than on the beach side.  The tide was coming into the lagoon and they got caught in the strong currents.  Two of them eventually made it to shore and went for help, but the other two couldn’t get out.

I don’t know how long they were in the water, but by the time that Jaco got there, it was too late.  One man was floating face down in the water and the other had sunk below the waves.  Jaco paddled out, got the guy on the surface and brought him back.  Jaco, a former dive instructor, knows CPR and tried to resuscitate him but the man was already dead.

After the ambulance came to take the body to the hospital, Jaco and I went out on the paddleboards to try and find the other body.  We looked all over the lagoon, but the visibility was poor and the currents were strong.  After a half hour, we came back in.  About 10 minutes later, one of the many locals watching on the shore spotted the second body that had just come to the surface.  We went out and brought him in, but he was dead too.

After we took the boards back, we gave statements to the police, a surreal experience.  Two details stood out for me during the statement process.  First, the detectives who took our statements wrote out the entire statements form by hand on a blank sheet of paper.  (You would think they could have a pre-printed form for that.)  Second, the detective who interviewed me was named Magnus M’go M’go.  He had me try to say it a couple of times because everyone thought my bad pronunciation of it was hilarious.  It seemed unlikely to me that anything will come of the police investigation.

This incident hammered home to me that there is really no safety net here.  At a high-end hotel in the developed world, you can assume that the hotel will look out for your safety and try to stop you from doing anything dangerous.  Not here – visit at your own risk.

The hardest part of the whole day was consoling one of the two guys who survived – he looked like couldn’t believe that it had happened.  I couldn’t either.  Kinduchi looks like a paradise and it’s hard to believe imagine anything more harmful happening here than a hangover.  These Chinese tourists were a group of young twenty-somethings on a holiday and I’m sure they didn’t think twice about going swimming on the beach.  It’s a beach hotel, right?

The tragic thing was that these deaths were preventable had anyone at the hotel used even a little basic lifeguarding experience.  They didn’t mark safe swimming areas and unsafe areas.  They didn’t post any information on rip tides.  They didn’t have a lifeguard on duty and they didn’t have any lifeguarding equipment anywhere nearby.  The survivor had to run a quarter-mile down the beach to us to get help, because Michelle and Jaco were the closest people with useful equipment.

Not that you should count on people here to help, either.  None of the other guests and very few of the hotel staff did anything more than watch.  Wait, that’s not entirely true.  A few tried to take pictures and video footage of the whole spectacle.  Colleen said that one fishing boat refused to help look for the second body unless someone paid them to.  The swimmers couldn’t even count on the hotel safety staff — the security guy with the first aid kit didn’t really know how to properly perform CPR.    

Someone here recently commented to me that one of the problems in Tanzania is that despite their history of socialist government, people don’t have a sense of social responsibility.  The thing I’m still wondering after yesterday is, did the bystanders not help because they weren’t able?  (Couldn’t swim, didn’t have lifeguarding gear.)  Or was it because they didn’t think it was their responsibility?

What is Imarisha?

Below is the project description for the project Colleen is chief of party for.  You need to speak NGOish to understand it.

For the rest of us, let’s just say it’s trying to help improve the lives of people with AIDS and leave it at that.


Started in February 2011, the IMARISHA Project implemented by DAI is an ambitious five year USAID and PEPFAR-funded program that improves the overall effectiveness of existing and new economic strengthening activities undertaken by PEPFAR OVC and HBC implementing partners in Tanzania. Operating in seven regions — Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Mbeya, Iringa, Shinyanga and Mwanza — IMARISHA’s goal is to strengthen sustainable economic livelihoods programming, build stronger linkages and alliances, pilot new innovations, enhance the evidence base and work with the Government of Tanzania to improve their internal coordination and capacity across health and economic disciplines. 

 IMARISHA will also focus on demystifying economic strengthening terminology and concepts used in other areas of sustainable livelihoods to forge a common language between the health and economic strengthening communities, leading to more effective programming, more innovation, smarter partnerships, more appropriate services, and common set of indicators for impact measurement.


How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented?

The summer after my Senior year in high school, I worked in the shipping department at Hewlett Packard.  We packed all sorts of mini-computers and sent them off by the pallet-full.  By far the coolest part of the job was driving the forklifts.

Before they would let you drive a forklift, though, they made you take a safety course.  The course was a bit like drivers’ ed course, focused on safety.  My favorite part of the course was a video titled “How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented?”  They had several vignettes designed to hammer home a certain safety concept.  For example, during the “don’t let people ride on the forks” episode, they had actors dare each other to a race and then go careening around with a guy standing on the forks fully extended, 10 feet up.  Right in the middle of the race, the picture froze and the words: “How could this accident have been prevented?” appeared over the image.  Clearly the filmmakers intended you to think: “don’t drive around with people on the forks.” But in every case it seemed to me that the deeper answer was: “don’t hire morons.”  The video was formulaic, but still highly entertaining.

So, inaugurating the first HCTAHBP award, Tanzany edition, take a look at this truck full of gravel that pulled in front of me a couple of days ago doing about 40 mph down the main road of town and not driving particularly carefully.

Do you think it occurred to anyone to ask, “should we put a net on the back of this thing since we don’t have a tailgate door?”  Or at least, “maybe we should drive carefully and not take major thoroughfares.” I’m thinking not.  This is Tanzany.