By Joy Ogunmuyiwa
-title from Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
June 15, 2012
It was an unspoken decision to turn our need for cash from the ATM into an opportunity to take a daytrip down to Moshi town with Mama Nancy and her husband Gilbert. As we finished our tea and breakfast, made sweet by the passion fruit jelly we had made the night before, we quietly waited in the car as Gilbert loaded the truck with a fridge that they wanted to trade in town.
Fridge in tow, we made our way down to the main road, picking up some familiar and some not so familiar faces along the way. Any in need of a ride would politely wave on the side of road and jump in the back of the truck with the ease and agility only experience can give you. A quick tap on the glass would be all Gilbert needed to ease the car to a gentle stop for any of their destinations along the way. Like a game whose rules are only known to the players, we watched with quiet observation from our seats in the back.
As we reached Moshi town, a rich history seemed to be poking out from every street corner. We got to the center of town and took a detour to an abandoned train station that once had traveled from the Moshi to Dar es Salaam, made obsolete by a decade that brought improved roads and cars. Mama Nancy laughed as she quietly remembered taking the train herself to boarding school in Dar es Salaam.
What were most striking were the slums quietly hidden in the outskirts of the town. It was one of the areas where I had had the opportunity to conduct interviews last year. As the street roads slowly disappeared, the buildings began to grow farther and farther apart from each other, Gilbert, a tour guide by trade, explained life for those that inhabited the sparse housing and market stands. It was interesting to see how even though the area had changed very little physically, new faces and people populated the area, creating the façade of an entirely new place all together.
After some time we left, and passing by the factories and shops, we made our way around town running the rest of our errands and exploring new places. Tired from our day trip, we then made our way back up to Mwika, of course, picking up new people along the way.