Helpful Valentines Day Tip

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It a bit late, but I couldn’t not post this great opinion column from Valentines day: “Men: Staring at breasts improves your heart health.”

The whole thing is worth reading but I’ll just excerpt the best bits. First, he sets up the justification for his position.

“… A study published in Hot Topics in Hypertension, ays that staring at women’s breasts can increase a man’s life expectancy by 4-6 years. That is really good news to Africans whose life expectancy department is wanting!


The report says that 5 years of monitoring his subjects, the participants who gawped at the boobs had lower blood pressure, better circulation, and less chance of blood clotting than any other group in the study.”

You know it’s true because a “professor of homeopathic medicine at Naples University” did the study.

He then picks up the cause as a truly converted disciple:

“Perhaps men should reconsider the gesture of staring at women and women should stop feeling uncomfortable about it and add it to one of their daily exercise list instead of having to jog and kill themselves lifting weights. After all, the exercise of staring at the boobs requires no energy and is aesthetic in nature …”


“Staring at women is one hobby men cannot resist even if they were preachers. It comes second to soccer. A man can spend the whole day staring at a woman and leave the place smiling with satisfaction like a Cheshire cat. But then, we were created that way – to stare! Do women like it when we stare at them? Not all but a sizeable chunk of them would give anything to capture the attention of a man – especially one that takes their fancy – it flutters them. I have also noticed that when a man stares at a woman, it means he likes what he sees. Women love appreciation. Some will do anything to get noticed.”

Then he ends by letting women in on a big secret:
“What any man would do if his woman is around is pretend not to be looking. You’ll be waiting for a moment to catch a glimpse. Usually you have to hold on and do it when she’s looking away for some reason. That’s the best thing to do, because you get a little sneak peek and she gets to talk to you without feeling uncomfortable.”
And thus ends this helpful bit of Valentine’s Day advice.

“Nice shopping bag – How’d they do?”

One nice thing about emerging markets is they tend to recycle everything.

Take, for example, this shopping bag used fora recent purchase of a printer cartridge.



And inside:


For what it’s worth, University of Dar es Salaam students Nancy Mbia and Ester Felician got a 4.5 score on their 14 September 2006 Physical Chemistry Practicals titled: “Conductimetric Deterioration of the Dissociation Constant for a Weak Electrolyte.” Good for you, Nancy & Ester!

Some Secreted Island


Want to give a shout out to a new blog Some Secreted Island by a guy who is posted WAY out in the middle of nowhere, a small island in Lake Victoria. Makes Dar-es-Salaam seem like New York City. Money quote:

Having a witch as a neighbour is not all bad. If other witches want to get at you (and our part of the island has for centuries been a cauldron of the occult), they must first seek permission from the sorcerer on whose patch you reside. If your witch likes you, he or she will protect you from their curses. If not, you are thrown to the wolves…

Worth a read if you have the time.

Somebody needs to get a move on

An alert reader writes to mention a point I left out in my previous post about the member of parliament (MP) payola shenanigans.

Before all you American and European taxpayers get too smug about all this, remember that you are funding around 40% of the extra money these MPs are helping themselves to. As noted previously. Tanzany gets about that much money as budgetary support from donor governments.

According to, “With USD 1.6 Billion-USD 1.9 Billion (official aid information data from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs) in recent years, ODA to Tanzania has been playing and will continue to play a significant role in supporting national efforts on poverty reduction and development as well as government development expenditure. Aid fund has accounted for around 40% of the national and 80% of the development budget.” Looking at this, of the taxes Tanzanians actually pay, an increasingly higher amount goes to to MPs and government officials rather than to developing the country and providing basic services. Not exactly a great incentive for paying your taxes.

I have also heard an interesting rumor as to why this is happening now: expected losses by the majority CCM party in the up-coming elections. No idea if that’s true, but it would make a lot of sense.

It’s going to happen anyway, though. No one is really protesting enough to stop it. Even opinion columnists who chose to write it end with statements like this:

Someone should raise and put a break in this MP’s treck of making themselves a class of their own in the country.

Yes MPs deserve handsome perks, but not this much,” The Daily Citizen, Feb. 5, 2014

It is still remarkable to me how typical this sentiment is here. Not, “we” should do something about this; “someone” should. I can think of two possible “someones” who should do something about this: either the people of Tanzania who elected the MPs in the first place or the donor nations who are, at least to some extent, sending their taxpayer dollars to fund payola for underperforming MPs.

What they lack in capability they make up for in Chutzpah


“MP’s poised to pocket [$100,000] in send off pay.” Sounds like a made up headline for a snarky blog, but The Citizen reported last week the members of parliament recently approved a golden handshake of $98,000 on completion of their terms. And that is after an annual salary of $90,000 plus $35,000 a year in allowances.

As one person on Twitter put it:

Where do I apply for this job

The average person’s in Tanzany? Glad you asked — $1,600 per year according to the CIA World Factbook.

Now, of course, the government is now trying to claim ignorance of how this happened. No one is buying it.

I can’t really say I’m surprised. But the shamelessness still takes your breath away.

Almost forgot the “Flying Forks”

In my previous post about Tanzany’s L and R confusion, I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite names I’ve heard here: the “Flying Forks” of Pemba island.

Pemba Island Flying Fork, Photo by E.Bowen Jones-FFI

We spent a great long weekend in Pemba last October, and the staff at the resort suggested a trip to see the flying forks several times. Apparently some of them can get quite large — 5 and 1/2 foot wing span. And, there is a real feel-good story from the late 80’s about how the Pemba residents decided to stop eating them and bring them back from the brink of extinction.

In the end we didn’t go, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of a flying forks sign. So please, if an alert reader out there makes it to Pemba and sees a sign, please take photo and send it along so I can post it to the blog.

The L World

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

Muruhimbi, Rwanda, Photo by COPOTUS

So something I’ve been expecting for nearly three years finally happened to me for the first time last week. I was ordering take out food for delivery from a restaurant, and the waiter asked for my name.

Me:  My name is “Brent.”

Waiter: “Blent?”

Me: No. “BRRRent”

Waiter: “BLLLent?”

Me: No. “B. R. E. N. T.”

Waiter: Oh. “Brrenti”

Me: Sure.

Like the stereotype of some Asian countries, people in Tanzany often confuse L with R. Apparently this is the case elsewhere in the region as well, as you can see from the photo of a “Daily” in Rwanda. That’s right, a Daily. You know: a place where they milk cows.

I don’t entirely understand why this is the case as people do use both sounds and have no problems using L in other contexts. It’s not that they can’t pronounce “R”, the way that, say, I can’t roll my “r”s in Spanish. It’s just that in some words they just want to use an L instead.

Anyway, it adds to a lot of confusion when it comes to names. One woman filled out application form that I reviewed, with the name “Laula.” She wrote that several different places on the form. The name on her drivers license? “Laura”

And another good friend of mine here gets called “GunnaL” so often that I’ve take to calling him that too.

When I lived in Mexico, people didn’t really get my name their either so I learned not to get too worked up about it. My favorite experience in Tanzany, has been the security guards at the gate to the Gymkhana Golf Course. (Which all by itself is a rich topic for a future post.) For these guys, “Brent” is a real mind-bender of a name. So one day, I decided to give them something easier.

Gaurd: Name please?

Me: Brrr.. er … Mark

Guard: Mork?

Me: No, Mark


Me: Sure.

To this day, I am still Mr. Mork to them. And that’s ok. Cause sometime soon I’m planning to drive our Toyota Plado down to Gymkhana to play a round of golf with my significant other.

You know. Mindy.

Mork & Mindy

Nanu nanu!