Published: July 17th 2012July 16th 2012
We woke up in Tanga Town and visited the first of the three past contestants from the first season of Ruka Juu.
In the first season, they concentrated on people who ran their own businesses. There was a barber, a seamstress, a restranteur, etc.
Noel was running a soda distribution shop when he particpated in the show. Now, he has two shops.
Suamu runs a cosmetic shop in Tanga Town. Her earnings have increased and she credits the show for helping her get a better understanding about business. In fact, she said in the interview tat she would have lost her business if it weren't for Ruka Juu
We shot the first two interviews and then jumped in the car and drove for about three hours along rough roads to a town called, Hendeni
(hen-den-knee). This is the halfway point from Tanga Town to our destination. The roads are very rough and you have to be off the road once the sun goes down as it is not safe to be driving due to looting, road conditions, robberies, etc.
When we arrived in Hendeni, we had trouble finding a hotel. The reason being that "The Freedom Run" was
taking place in Hendeni that night. The Freedom Run is something Julius Neyrere, the first President of Tanzania started years ago. They run a torch through most, if not all the communities of Tanzania. It eventually is carried up Mount Kilimanjaro where the run ends at the summit.
We eventually found a place (not great, needless to say) and went for dinner. Let's just say, Hendeni isn't known for its choice of eateries or cuisine. Being the middle of nowhere, the choices are slim. The one restaurant was serving "local" chicken and goat. When I say "local", I mean rubbery beyond belief. The skin is tough and when you get the parts on a plate, you have to rip them apart to get at the meat. I was worried that I was pulling the pieces apart so hard that they would slip out of my greasy hands and hit someone across the room. Oh well, if I wanted home cooking I should have stayed home.
We crashed for the night and were up the next day to travel for 2 more hours to the town of Mgongwe
(Mm-gong-gway), where our third contestant, Rajab lives. The roads were rough
but the scenery was pretty spectacular.
When we arrived in Mgongwe, I noticed all these wires running from building to building. It was a makeshift form of electrical wires. Rajab is a young man who realized that his town had a need for electricity. Being in the middle of nowhere, the town had no access to electrical power, so he bought a couple of generators and started wiring up the town (the wires aren't really much thicker than stereo wires). The locals in the town tell him they want service, he wires up their house to his generator and then he charges them a fee to get electricity after dark. In fact, he has created a "control room" at the back of his house so if a customer doesn't pay the bill, Rajab had the ability to shut the customer down. He is a very smart man to come up with this plan.
The system is very primitive but it works for them. I can guarantee you that it would not pass any safety standards in a developed country, but for here it works for them. Since being on Ruka Juu, Rajab's business has grown, his wife runs
a stationary shop, and they also have a farm. He is quite the entreprenuer!
After interviewing Rajab, we handed out magazines to the people in the town.
The only thing being offered for lunch there was meat on a grill. We opted to spend the next two hours in the car and forego lunch. When we returned to Hendeni, we grabbed some rice & beans and being my mother's son, I went for a two hour nap.
For dinner that night, I couldn't face the chicken again and roasted goat is not something I have gotten used to, so I had two beers and went back to bed.
We woke up and hit the road early as we made our way back to Dar.
All in all, it was an incredible trip. I had not been to these regions before so it allowed me to see more of this country. To be honest with you, while it is beautiful, one town is starting to look like the next.
The other crew is out scouting in other regions as we look for 60 potential candidates for the show. We will review them all and narrow
it down to six contestants with two back-ups in case anyone drops out or is disqualified.)
My work is cut out for me here. The series consists of 14 one-hour episodes and they will start airing in March, 2013 with the LIVE finale at the beginning of June. That will leave me one month to tie up loose ends before I return home to Canada.
There are more photos below