Tanzania Diary: Day One

by Hamish Dufton

Well, what a first day here in Tanzania. After a morning left to recover from the long flight out, it was out into Dar es Salaam to sample the local culture and investigate everyday life here in the east African nation.

The first stop on our tour of the capital was a sombre one, as we visited Dar es Salaam cemetery. Here, Leon Osman - Everton's ambassador for the trip to celebrate the Club's partnership with SportPesa - met Major who would be his guide for the day. After laying a wreath to pay our respects, it was back on the road to head to the National Museum of Tanzania.

Once we arrived, Ossie was welcomed by a group of musicians and dancers who gave him a flavour of the local style. Except that wasn’t quite enough – of course Ossie had to get involved!

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As he watched on, the former Blues midfielder was eventually brought into the routine and, to be fair to him, once the early awkwardness fell away, he certainly got into the swing of things and by the end, he had replaced one of the drummers and was tapping out a steady rhythm in time with everybody else. 

It was here at the museum that we really began to feel just how welcome we are here in Tanzania. The excitement and genuine enthusiasm we encountered from those dancers was infectious. 

It continued as we journeyed throughout Dar es Salaam. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with smiles, handshakes and, after the news broke about Wayne Rooney rejoining the Club, the enthusiasm ramped up to another level. If Tanzania was excited before about Everton playing a game in their country, it is on a whole different level after today’s announcement!

Up next was a short journey through the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam to find out about the local coffee brewers. The custom is to have a sweet made from sugar and nuts called Kashata, the theory being that you take a bite, then a sip and you don’t need to add sugar to your cup. But first you have to grind the beans, so obviously that was Ossie’s next task. Think a giant pestle and mortar and you’re not far off. He certainly got a workout and I think they tricked him into grinding their coffee for the next week!

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These guys are unbelievable, though. They hang a kettle down by their knees from a rope over their shoulders, carry a tray of Kashata, then wander up and down the streets selling cups of coffee for about 10 pence. And the coffee is incredible. 

 A short bike ride later we were then shown how they make traditional chapattis and rice cakes. Given we had been out for a while, we were all a bit peckish so they were welcome - and as delicious as the coffee.

We got a little bit mobbed at this point, as loads of locals of all ages came to find out what all the commotion was about. There was a fantastic moment where a group of children were pestering our cameraman Mark Stringfellow to look down the viewing screen on his camera as Ossie made faces at them. 

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They clearly love their football out here, too – football shirts are everywhere, showing off the colours of local sides as well as Premier League clubs and a sprinkling of other European teams.

How they watch their football is wonderfully communal. Little cinemas pop up around the city and there are rooms with a TV in where fans gather to watch their team. Apparently, though, you have to pay by the half - so it's not just the teams leaving the field of play at the break. Everyone has to leave, then pay for the second half! However, when a big game is on, you can hear a cheer as loud as that in the stadium as all the fans celebrate a goal across the city in these little cinemas.

Our next port of call set against the backdrop of this vista was a food market. The best way to describe this was organised chaos. Narrow paths wove between stalls filled to bursting with all kinds of fruit and vegetables. Major led Ossie around the stalls, pointing out the various local produce, including a bitter tomato type of vegetable that helps stave off malaria. 

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After we safely navigated our way through the market, we headed back to the museum, where Ossie was back in action. First, he helped a local artist complete a painting depicting a Maasai village. He did pretty well considering the implement being used was like a very small trowel.

Thankfully, we soon switched our attentions to jewellery making, with Ossie learning how to make a bracelet with his name on it out of beads. 

As you can see from the video above, the day was a huge eye-opener for all of us, not just Ossie. What struck me was the warmth of the welcome we received from everyone and the excitement Everton’s presence here has generated. The National Stadium holds 60,000 people here in Tanzania – expect that and more on Thursday. It will be another unforgettable occasion.

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