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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Saturday 14 June 2008

In Tanzania

I have collected a fair amount of East African literature and am definitely returning to Ireland with a heavier case.
Tanzanian stories written in English are still far between as Kenya has taken precedence with their writers and poets. Otherwise, the current excitement on African literature in the UK at the moment appears to be concentrated on Nigeria with its new voices and also South Africa. The few Tanzanian novels that are being sold in the bigger bookshops, have been written by Europeans and an Indian novelist. Only the Canadian Indian novelist has achieved a real popularity worldwide as he was published by a mainstream publisher in the UK and was afforded all the right publicity and distribution rights. So there is a rich source of material here, still untapped.
I will talk more about this in Dublin and show you the books I picked up.
Today, I'm on my way to Bagamoyo which means drop your heart. Bagamoyo is an hour's drive away from Dar and it is an ancient slave town which still spots a predominantly Muslim religion and a strong Arabian culture. Hundreds of years ago, many East African slaves were shackled in these town for weeks at a time, by European settlers waiting to sell them off to the passing Arab merchants who sailed into Africa for trade. The slaves knew that once they were caught and shipped out to different countries, that they would never see their loved ones again. Hence, the name, drop your heart. By the way, Dar es Salaam means haven of peace.
What I will get to see are the hundreds of gravesites of forgotten slaves, an old missionary's markets, different villages and an ancient harbour/waterfront no longer used. The markets, villages and mosques differ in architecture from those of Dar.