you're on the underground to the airport. you're feeling tired. you can barely carry the luggage. on the airplane, you think, you will rest. after that, there will be no more rest. while you rest, the damage will be done. the damage will continue all the time you're in dar es salaam and all the time you're in mtwara. as you rode your bike, to buy a copy of final cut express, you felt the landscape losing stability, an exciting uneasy sensation, as you tried to remember swahili. as you rode back home, you were feeling more and more disturbed, more and more distant, with fear and elation, from the landscape until, as you sat silently in the mini cab to the station, you felt almost un attached. of course the weight of attachment continues but begins to re centre in this household of yours, now abruptly uprooted from the house you just moved into drifting surrounded by big bags - it's an unreal trajectory and random of course a meaningless trajectory you submit to - voices are distant, more and more as if you are about to submit to an operation. everything cries out aginst such an upheaval. you are powerless to change it. you did everything you could to stop it, now it's happening again this is osterley this is houndslow east. when you reach dar es salaam international airport you will be shattered. the sun is shining on the roofs and gardens of west london by the line. you will be stunned, and stagger out into the heat of early morning, the smell of traffic fumes and the smell of burning charcoal, as people cook their morning meal
you are landing in less than 40 minutes in dar es salaam. the sun is coming up through the left window. to the right it is still dark. outside air temperature -30 degrees. distance to destination 97 miles. 81 miles. local time at destination 06:21. the graphic shows the indian ocean and the plane over dar es salaam, shown as a target, covering it. you're going down.
you're waiting for your baggage at mtwara airport. the baggage is on the wagon. the plane is sitting on the tarmac, with the grass and evening sky behind. you're under the edge of a corrugated roof.
you're standing on the top of a hill in mtwara tanzania. _ is crying by a bush. the sound of machinery is constant. the wind is constant over the red soil. the workshop you are meant to film is continuing. _ has prevented you from filming. now you have taken _ to the top of a hill, outside the gate of COTC, where _ sits crying by a bush. time passes to its death, while you stand here. of course there is no remedy for that situaiton. you look around you. what are you doing here? fighting like ants on this red hill? dried human shits are scattered here, among the sparse scrub. a few shreds of plastic 2 women in bright clothes with a blue plastic basket pass on one of the wavering paths that crisscross the hillside. doctor, calls a man. doctor. is there a problem?
you're in the chicken market. they're killing chickens and cutting them up. some men are watching television. roosters are calling from the cages. you're with _. it's 4.24 in the afternoon in mtwara tanzania. it's friday. sometimes a chicken - a rooster or a hen, will make an attempt to free itself from the grip of the man who carries it upside down by the legs. the heads of the people in the market turn for a moment, following it, identifying perhaps with its bid for escape, before it is killed with a blade in a corner of the trough, or before its legs are tied to be taken away and slaughtered later. the cost of killing and cutting one chicken is Tz300 - about 15 pence. the same as the cost for charging a mobile phone. an old man kills them and a young man cuts them up.
unajua? do you know?
you're sitting on a rock by the shore of the west indian ocean a few metres from the water as it withdraws. light comes in beams through holes in the cloud and illuminates the surface of the sea. a fishing boat sails from the harbour in front of a gusting wind which brings the smell of burning brush from the grounds of the southern cross hotel. it's ten to five or ten to eleven. behind you, the grass roofed building of the blue view resort, with its upper floor looking out over the sea, supported on a columned verandah, stands empty. people come to poke in the rocks and study pools as the tide recedes. the children are taking pictures. some men are hunting for food.
the flight of a bee eater over these feathery trees, maybe some kind of larch, dangling with nests, is immediately recognisable: the shape of wings sloping back, the fast fluttering and twisting flight alternating with long glides, the thickness of the wing - as distinctive in its way as the nightjar, you think, your favorite bird in flight, or, you think, looking up from reading Meillasoux, as distinctive perhaps as any flight, or any movement, you think - remembering a guide to identifying birds by movements - as any bird, or animal - the habitus of any bird or animal or the look and feel of any plant, or fungus, which was acquired at once by the most casual observation and the most prolonged and - regular contact - so that it becomes really an extension, a region of the imagination, which the flying bird can instantly discharge - so that our concentration is seized and our perceptual apparatus and even the networks of our feeling are suddenly flooded with neural activity, bringing us back from a state close to hopelessness - watching the evolution and subsequent annihilation of each new form of mental and social life, in the filthy indifference of history and the cruelty and indifference of the people who witness them, seeing most of all the indifferrence and or open hostility of the people closest to us, to these momentous openings - we pass gradually into a state of profound disillusionment, within which it is increasingly hard to identify the achievement - disillusion as achievement right, but as our fantasies are so routinely demolished we come to realize the need for an interplay: right an interplay: an in and exhalation between atmospheres - so that the area of our fantasies can also breathe, expand and yes contract, in and up against the other - but otherwise the real crushes the - everything around it out: reducing the lung, in this case, to a hard dense ball, like the lung of the sperm whale at great depth, which for a human being can barely be tolerated if at all - don't divers get the bends, the benz, from surfacing too quickly, tiny air bubbles form in the bloodstream - then they're in trouble - they put you in a compression machine with just your head sticking out
what is it like to lie in bed under a mosquito net on saturday night in mtwara tanzania. you think ahead to a workshop on solar power which you are due to run on monday. you think back to today, when you presented a solar kit to a rural community project. your eyelids as they say become heavy not even the music which on saturday and friday nights comes from across this flat landscape by the sea, can stop you. you have just finished reading Going Solo by Roald Dahl
you're walking from your house to mama mtupa's shop. on left beeeaters are flying. you cross the road to avoid a four wheel drive on the right bulbuls are singing. a mousebird flew into a tree, fallen onto its side. it is 8 or 2 in the morning. it's already hot. across the field the sea is rippling with hazy coral islets in the distance. the road is piled with heaps of hardcore every 10 ft. you're walking again now to catch up with s. you reach the fenced area around the container shop, surrounded by banana trees and rough plantings. an indefinable sense of emptiness unfolding. mama mtupa's car is there - s calls out to you. you walk in.
you're walking down a white dusty road at midday. you've just wiped your memory card. everything is lost.
you are standing looking at the west indian ocean, running over in your mind one after the next the images which up until a few moments ago you had. now you have nothing.
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you are sitting on the steps of the staff building at Matengo school in Mikindani. s is with you. a group of students is coming up the hill. in a few minutes a party is to take place. you have bought cashew nuts, soda pop and sweets. following the bitter arguments of the last few days, you are anticipating this event. the slave market is below you, facing the ocea. all the students are coming now. there is no way out.
the sodas are drunk. the too long and too short speeches have been made more than once. the group photograph is being taken. everybody wants to be in the group photograph. exclusion from such a group is death. anybody excluded from such a group can be said to be finished. to be dead. such dead people do not go far in this landscape. they are struck down.
the relationships of these students within their class is far more, infinitely more imporant than their relationship - any relationships they have with you, might have with you, so that, when it comes to the crunch, they do not hesitate, even for a moment, to strike you down. far better for you to be struck down: shouted, put, and finally struck down, in the way that this one student was implying that your youngest child should be beaten - what a situation, as he said, when a child could grow up to the age of five without, as he said, knowing the stick - you sense how this outraged him. no sooner did you confront him on this question - you confronted his claim that this was a cultural difference between london, uk and mtwara, or mikindani or Mpengo, southern Tanzania, when of course the question of beatings is an internal cultural matter and a subject of dispute - within the cultures of london uk and mpengo southern tanzania, no sooner did you make this point - in response to his tired and predictable invocation of cultural difference - than he walked away. in the same way, anyone proposing to dissent, to question, dissent, dispute, stand aside, in such a way as to threaten or even to question in any way the integrity of the group, this person or persons will be put down at once whatever the cost - whatever the personal cost may be, for such and such a person, that is a small cost to be paid, for the integrity and triumph of the group - as you saw at once at last year's graduation day prize giving, when each prize winner was immediately physically surrounded and engulfed by class members, so as to effecively claim that prize and person for the class, and to stamp that shadow of personal achievement with the name and number of the group - that class - just as every building at Mapengo Primary School is stamped - stencilled and in effect stamped with a number - or a set of numbers - uniquely identifying that building, and no other, from every other building, by reference to its location within Mapengo Primary School, Mikindani, Mtwara, Southern Tanzania - building number 01, 02, 03.. however utterly characterless, poor, uniform and soul-destroying such a structure may be - and indeed is. only the Old Boma itself stands out, on the little hill up above from the sea and the slave market, which stands between them, slightly to one side, and several Arab Style buildings of considerable age - which can be assumed to be culturally and economically continuous with the Slave Market - the most prominent and architecturally ambitious structure in town and perhaps on this whole stretch of coast - with the possible exception of the Old Boma itself, which, despite being referred to as The German Boma, is clearly an older building, pesumably taken over by the Germans later for their own purposes
the sun is setting through the trees and the wind is blowing through the trees - the lights are just coming on - in the garden of the house in shangani, mtwara, tanzania