I think I mentioned Stan and Sandra before; they were white Zimbabwean farmers. Well they used to be but like all white farmers in Zimbabwe they have been thrown off their land by the regime of president Robert Mugabe. So now instead of producing a living for their family and all the other families that were employed by the farm they actually produce nothing – nada – zilch. The tractors that they used are still sitting in the fields from when they were asked to leave 4 years ago and are just rusting hulks.

However, a comment by Stan made me wonder about how the UK is perceived outside these shores. Stan said something to the effect ‘There’s been a lot of shootings in UK lately hasn’t there’ (This was just after the spate of shootings of teenagers in South London) I replied ‘ Uh – yeah I suppose’ He then came back with ‘Why?’ I tried again ‘Well I don’t really know, I think it might be to do with drugs or gangs or something’. He pushed on ‘Well where do they get the guns from?’ ‘I’ve no idea’ I exclaimed. The fact that I didn’t personally know the reason, the boys in question and the circumstances seemed to make him think I was a bit slow. It reminded me of the first time I went to Africa. In a lovely hotel in Mombasa our safari guide, Washington Ongango, you don’t forget a name like that, turned to me and informed me that ‘You know I have never seen anyone shot’ I was impressed. I suppose if your only perception of a country is through the press and cop shows, you would have a rather warped view of the place.

It was this that made me question a couple of folks about the press that Africa gets in the West. I met a delightful and charmingly eloquent young woman called Ritah who was a journalist on the Dar es Salaam Guardian. She and the two barmen, Miraj and Haduki were adamant that all that gets reported in the western press are the bad aspects of Africa. While I think it would be naive in the extreme to even think there weren’t any problems it isn’t all un-ending gloom and depression. There is a real feeling of optimism in Tanzania and although there is a lot of poverty there is also hope.

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