Jon and I woke up on Friday to another gorgeous day in Iringa. We went to a place for breakfast called Neema Crafts which is a wonderful not-for-profit organization. Not only do they sell crafts as the name suggests, but there is also a café which serves excellent brewed local coffee and organic foods. The best part of this organization is that it is a vocational training site for the young deaf and disabled people in the area. While many disabled people in the USA have a chance to support themselves or at least get some assistance from the government, this is not the case in Tanzania. All the crafts are made by disabled people and the restaurant is run completely by people who are deaf. It’s an excellent organization to support and the food was divine.
Following our delicious breakfast, we continued on to do a hike to Gangilonga rock – a huge rock that overlooks Iringa. The name of the rock means “talking stone” in the local language of the area, and it is where an old chief from the late 1890s used to meditate. We spent much time asking for directions to get to it. After some time, we located it and climbed to the top. While the rock has been defaced by much graffiti, it did not take away from the peace and tranquility of our settings. We arrived just as the call to prayer was being sung over the whole city. The top of the rock was quiet, there were only three other girls who shared the top with us. We spent a couple hours in the sun and just relaxing.
But, it’s the rainy season now and a beautiful day quickly turns to a rainy hour or two. We noticed a drop in temperature and started to pack up our things. Before we could even get off the top of the rock, it started to sprinkle and in no time it was down-pouring. After a five or ten minute descent, we finally reached a house. As fate would have it, we were invited inside by a young girl to escape the rain. The walk back into Iringa was a good 35 minutes, so we quickly accepted the invitation. Our friendly host named Loveness was only 15 years old and spoke wonderful English. She showed us pictures of her family which was fascinating. You see, her grandpa had over ten wives and 65 children! The more we talked, the more she shared information about her family. The next thing we know, she’s telling us about her brother who is a famous hip hop star in Tanzania. She began showing us his music videos and telling us how he is performing the next day. After about an hour and a half, the rain let up a bit and we tried excusing ourselves from her home. However, as a we were fumbling over our words to politely leave, here walks in the famous brother. Well, we couldn’t leave now! So, we met him and he showed us some more music videos including one where he sings with Miss Tanzania and one where he sings with a famous albino woman. I can’t say that I have ever watched a music video of someone while they were there! It was a great experience.
We went to his show the next day and we were shocked by the number of people who had come out. It wasn’t some tiny venue with a small following, it was a large venue filled with people singing all his songs. I think we actually met a real hip hop star here. It’s pretty awesome because now we are texting him and he texts us. He’s a famous hip hop singer and we’re celebrities simply because we’re foreigners!