Monday, 9 November 2009


...from Maandazi to Pilau; from Vipoopoo to Ugali to Magimbi Chips...she has it all for the world to Eat

Brain Drain, is a term that spread fifty years ago when skilled Britons fled to the USA for better paid jobs. It has since become popular amongst former colonies especially in Africa. For example in 2000, a fifth of African medicals so much needed on the continent were working overseas. Amongst chief reasons for this human resource experience is unsuitable governments and economies. Some professionals, however, tend to keep links with their mother societies while earning bread in adopted countries. Miriam Rose,is a USA based Tanzanian who runs a bi-lingual weblog promoting Tanzanian recipes. She has a Masters degree in Information Technology and is employed as Web developer and designer in Arizona. Her new book on Tanzanian dishes is out soon.

Bajia za Kunde : amongst multitudes of Miriam's masterpieces.

Why is your site bi-lingual?
MIRIAM ROSE: Although I know every Tanzanian who uses the net speaks English I guessed some terms might be difficult for a few. My intention was also to promote Tanzanian cooking globally.
How has the reaction been?
MIRIAM ROSE: (Laughs) Some requested that I publish a book. Few complained about certain foods made from saturated oils. Many Tanzanians adore it. This is has inspired me to want to show the world that they may enjoy “gourmet dishes” from Bongo.
What are Gourmet Foods?
MIRIAM ROSE: Food prepared carefully, rich in flavour and served in an artistic manner. Any food may be turned into gourmet dish by being enhanced using different ingredients and served in a unique style. We Tanzanians lack an interest in serving food in an art form, although our food is organic, rich in flavour and nutrition.

Miriam Rose (Pic by J. Malaquias)

What are your views on our current eating habits?
MIRIAM ROSE: It would be nice for the government to publish books showing various vitamins and minerals in our dishes. We have good vegetables like Mchicha but people should be educated through writing, not just verbally. We should reduce Nyama Choma and beer; such a small country has too many beer brands. If we can spend more money on vegetables we will reduce Vitambi.
We women could prepare better meals instead of relying on domestic helps who we do not even monitor while they are in our kitchens. I personally return from work around six in the evening, cook then serve my family. I do not understand my fellow educated women. Why do they rely on domestic girls? How come educated women in developed countries manage to cook for their families? We should learn to serve food that has been prepared creatively. We can make Ugali and Mchicha look as if it comes from Kilimanjaro Hotel. We are building high rise buildings but eating terribly.

Chips made from Magimbi, the water based African yam

Today many urban based Tanzanians have fallen into the trap of gobbling Chips on all occasions. Fried chips which were developed for those who have no time to cook are filled with saturated oils and salt. Many Tanzanians think it is progress.
MIRIAM ROSE: I don’t think the majority of Tanzanians eat to be healthy but only to fill bellies. The Ministry of Health should campaign to educate people on these fried Chips and the advantage of eating Tanzanian foods.
Tanzanian cooking is by tradition not fattening; we are getting obese because we are eating badly and not exercising. Adding all that with this Fast Food increases health risks.
All these years living overseas I have discovered educated people rarely eat out; it is the uneducated and those with low income who worship unhealthy foods.


What are your goals?
MIRIAM ROSE: When I finished form six I wanted to be a Chef and writer but my father disagreed. So I have managed to study and have a job that pays the bills.
Nevertheless, my hobbies remain designing clothes, websites and writing. I have learnt to balance work and hobby, well. I have already started working on recipe and web design books which would eventually be affordable for ordinary Tanzanians. Later I would like to travel in our rural areas and document traditional cooking so it is not lost forever.
You have unselfishly, been helping Tanzanians design blogs and websites including myself.
MIRIAM ROSE: We have to thank God for everything. My job gives me enough bread. A website is a special office, it must look good. Many Tanzanians cannot afford to pay someone to design their sites. They really look bad. Those skilled enough charge exorbitant fees. I thought I should use my knowledge to help.

Vipoopoo Dessert, sweets made from Rice, Cardamon and Coconut which are popular during Ramadan.

Email Miriam at:

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Saturday, 29 August 2009


Capoeira instructor, Simon "Fantasma" Atkinson says...

I thought some of you might know interested youth that might want to take advantage of the classes listed below. If you do please could you ask them to register online.

Classes are free and Hackney based but welcome youth from any borough.

Mondays 17.15-18.15, Regents Community Hall, 52 Brougham Road, E8 4PB
(begins 14th September)

Tuesdays17.00-18.00 Geffrye Community Centre, Falkirk Street, N1 6SD
(begins 15th September)

East London Capoeira Group and Project Gem (registered charity number 1090376) are offering 11-19 years olds a unique opportunity to experience capoeira. Project Gem uses capoeira in the UK and Brazil to help young people to feel good and enjoy life. We recognise that capoeira has lots of benefits that can help young people and the community that they live in. Our free 10-week capoeira experience will give you a basic introduction to:

Understanding of the capoeira game!

Thanks for your time - oh and before I forget Urban Ritual has moved to the first Sunday every month next 6th September 3pm Charlie Wrights 45 Pitfield Street N1 6DA


Tel +44-7779 031 273

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Sunday, 28 June 2009


Unique East African solace

There are various ways to describe a place.
Different people see places, differently.

So my views about Hotel Mnarani in the Nungwi area of Zanzibar might not match yours, dear reader.

Having such an honest perspective in mind, could be the reason why you find differing views on the hotel’s website. By allowing contrasting feedback, Mnarani’s management have sought objectivity; a compliment, in my opinion. Some clients describe Mnarani as being too quiet and laid back for younger people. Some see it as paradise. Some do not like the food.

Some love the food.

That is honesty.
Mnarani is about heights and peaks and fresh air.
The hotel’s name stems from Mnara which in Kiswahili means tower, steeple, minaret, lighthouse; so standing from certain elevated parts of the premise you see the 70 feet (21.3 meters) Lighthouse built by Chance & Brothers in 1888. Since 1926 the Lighthouse has been flashing automatically every five seconds to guide ships entering from all over the world.

Mnarani is 37 miles (60 kilometres approximately) from Zanzibar, subsequently it is situated amongst polite, unassuming villagers; the hotel’s info warns that the local population is Muslim: “Tourism is a new phenomenon in the life of these people.”
Females are warned not to wonder around in bikinis; respect is the chief vibe here, therefore.

Village cows crossing road, majestically, near hotel.

I only have gracious words to say about very humble local villagers and staff. Take Kidawa. She tells me this tavern is a great sojourn for newly weds, honeymooners, romantics. To prove the point she goes out fetches clusters of mixed flowers and for almost 30 minutes decorates my bed.

“Doesn’t this tire, you?” I wonder.
“Not at all. It is God’s pleasure,” she says sweeping, working and clearing the mess away, easily, afterwards.

Another interesting conversation is with Sadat Mbarak who has been here for a couple of years.

A perfect gentleman, Mbarak says of visitors: “People who come here are quiet. They go to bed at 9 p.m.”
Surely, that might be early; especially if you are a party animal.
“There are loads of green snakes around,” Nassoro Ali, the equally hardworking hotel director explains to me lightly (while my insides tremble, slightly), “But I always tell the workers not to kill them. We regard them as harmless.”

Nature is abundant. Green colour, vegetation and trees (Coconuts, Mangoes, Shokishoki (Rambutan fruit) flowers: Frangi Pani (below), Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Roses.

With so much green and nature you would expect mosquitoes to roam freely and menacingly but the hotel has managed to reduce them by getting rid of lurking ponds or disinfecting them. So I find my short stay at Mnarani pleasant; there is no need to use my allocated mosquito net.

For tourists, activities are abundant: Finish sauna, Snorkelling trips, Boat trips, Kayaking (single $10; double 30), Scuba diving, Wind surfing, beauty : Henna for $5;

And massage (divided into $10 for half hour; $30 an hour, respectively).

Mnarani has a small library in the internet room. It is the first time I have been in an East African hotel and encountered novels and books; this sends a good message.Reading should be part of holidays and pleasure, not just work, study or college...

Both staff and director have great enthusiasm for nature.

Makame, Mohammed and Juma -all staff-members don matching T-shirts with "Dont be a Tourist-be a local in Zanzibar-" labels on them.

I am encouraged to swim (both sea and swimming pool are perfectly clean) and advised when best to do it (the ocean tides can be very strong); I am also coaxed to go at interesting locations of the hotel. Even when we sit down (on that late May) night watching the televisedBarcelona versus Manchester United Champions League Final, the seaside nearby keeps applauding. One last word about Mnarani Hotel.
According to Nassoro it all began in 1996 and is still expanding. While i was here, lots of construction was going on...

Need more details?

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Monday, 4 May 2009

A song called : Freedom

I penned this song in 1980 while reflecting on various types of freedoms in many ways and million places around the world...I was living in one of the poorest districts of Dar es Salaam (called Mwananyamala Kisiwani) in Tanzania. The previous night i experienced a very troubled sleep due to prolonged chilling shrills and screaming... a man was beating his wife for borrowing a piece of soap from a neighbour.
That is how poverty interacts with freedom and relationships.

Playing and enjoying this memorable session in Winter 2009:

Piano- Kaz Kasozi (Ugandan multi-instrumentalist musician);
Bass- Andre Mathurin (from St Lucia where they have that special annual jazz festival)
Percussion- Trevor Antonio (African- Carribean rhythm man)....
I have been playing on and off with these great guys for over a decade. They have one thing in common which i always look for and love in musicians: they are sensitive, creative, they listen and do not over play...

On a hand held Camera is Krawl, a man of such intense talent; he is also a Capoeira (the Brazilian martial arts and dance) teacher.

This London session was recorded, edited and produced by Kaz Kasozi for his Video-cast series which showcases various musicians with similar themes and styles.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Music and Poetry from the Home of Free and Brave…

Outside it is chilly, so chilly that you are relieved to vanish inside...
One of the ladies smoking by the doors, whispers shshshsssh as the session downstairs is already on. Always the same story at Poetry CafĂ©. Because of the creaky floorboards, any step  magnifies like a wild herd of running deer…
“This is the first time in 8 years that I have not felt embarrassed being American,” quips tall, confident, Barbara Marsh one of the four performers, her acoustic guitar, a treasured medal.
Yes, indeed; this is an extremely chilly evening, early 2009. Fifth of January; Monday, "voted" worst day of the year, after Christmas holidays 
Barbara's repetitive, wailing, chorus line:
woes and goes and puffs on and on...aided by experienced picking and strumming.

Barbara rocks...

We are all curled up listening: sipping wine, tea, coffee; mobiles tuned to silence by our semi-frozen fingers; some too scared to let go our jackets; winter is the enemy within.
Like many others you are curious to hear what the four writers have to say. Signed, Sealed, Delivered....Oyee.. There is a new leadership in the USA.

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