Monday, April 25, 2011

This time for Africa - 23rd April 2011

The railwayman is at it again. I am packing my bags for a short trip to Tanzania. I have never travelled to the African Continent before. This place, where human civilization is reputed to have begun, is still a ‘dark continent’ to many. I may be pardoned if I sound like David Livingstone, for I am all excited about the five day trip to the country of Julius Nyerere. Tanzania as we know today is an amalgam of the erstwhile States of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. While the former was a British colony the latter was under the control of the Germans till the First World War. Vasco Da Gama, during his exploration of the Orient, is said to have stumbled upon Zanzibar reputedly the center for spices, ivory and slave trades during that time. The reluctance of the Germans to let it go as a pocket of its influence after the World War is well documented.  In 1961, Tanganyika won independence from the British under the leadership of Julius Nyerere. Some history books give more credit to the financial sate of the British Empire at the time rather than to the people of Tanzania for their independence. Whatever, the role played by Julius Nyerere in lighting the sparks of independence from colonial rule in the African Continent cannot be understated. When Zanzibar won its independence in 1963 Tanganyika and Zanzibar came together to form the United Republic of Tanzania. Dodoma is the Capital, in name only.  Dar-es-Salaam is the erstwhile capital city and the major port, vital to trade in East Africa.
The objective of the railwayman’s journey this time is no different from what it was in October 2010. Adventure and education have ramped up the levels of excitement. Five days is too short to do justice to any country particularly an African country that is so rich in history, culture, art and wildlife. Nevertheless, I have five days to see and enjoy what I can. The railwayman is on the road once again. 
Today is 23rd April, the 55th anniversary of my parent’s wedding. Achachan and Ammachi, a couple who lived almost exclusively for their children, are no longer in our midst. But the memories of their loving and caring ways, the selfless sacrifices they made and the solid foundation of values and morals they provided will keep them in our memories forever.  This journey to them.

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