Buying the butter knife

Brad bought a Masai knife (what he calls a butter knife) at the market. The guy selling them was making scabbards from leather as we watched, whilst a small child with a stall next to him did the same. They got through a few. The knives seemed to made from pangas that had been ground down with knife sharpeners to the “butter knife” shape. There were also smaller knives, which I was assured where for cutting vegetables – I think this might have been a challenge of manhood though… Is your knife big enough for meat?

A stack of translucent belts lay on the ground – I was told they were made from cow. I asked if they came from the tongue which caused lots of laughter after it was translated for the growing audience.

I got a picture, as we agreed it with the knife maker…

Ngaramtoni Market

Brad at TechnoServe wanted to check out the real Masai market in Ngaramtoni, (or “Goddam Tony” as his grandmother apparently read it in an email he sent) so we headed down on Sunday to have an explore.

There are two Masai markets in Ngaramtoni – the goods market where people sell second hand clothes, kangas, flip-flops etc, and the cattle market. Now last week we had a fun time haggling loudly over kangas at the goods market, so we didn’t hang around there for very long this week. Besides, the cattle market is a bit more Masai. We headed there.

About 100 men stood around with cows and goats in a dusty clearing surrounded with ramshackle huts and shacks. A cow cost about TSh200,000/- about $200. Plus there is Tsh1,000/- tax per cow bought which lead to at least one fight we saw there between purchaser and tax man.

Most of the Masai stood around in less than traditional gear, though there were a few newly circumcised lads in their black kitenge with white dots painted on their faces hanging around in typical teenage lad groups. We also saw one guy whose big dangly pierced ear lobe was looped over the top of his ear..

The market was strangely quiet – I had expected it to be a lot more hectic, but people just shuffled around checking out the cows, and most deals seemed to be negotiated very quietly. I did see a few people squirt milk from an udder onto their finger then taste it – I don’t know if this was to ascertain the quality of the milk or merely to quench thirst…

Unfortunately we were unable to take many photos, since the Masai are legendary for not enjoying having their pictures taken – I can respect this, especially when being chased by 200 butter knife wielding Masai might be the result of casual snapping. I did try and take one picture of the market from a distance, but tried to look as if I was doing something else and the result is not that great.

Into the jaws of corruption

Today I feel a bit dirty after handing over $200 to an immigration official along with my passport in order to get another three months of tourist visa. It seems that indeed, foreign women with jobs here are not legally able to bring husbands with them, despite contrary information on the Tanzanian national web site – seems spouse just means wife in Tanzanian English. Can this really be true? I am trying to obtain confirmation in writing.


Did I mention that Shado was pregnant? Well, she had a couple of puppies over the weekend. She is not a great mother – still spends a lot of time running around and barking – a mere puppy herself really.

Who is the father – Droopy? We shall be keeping an eye open for genetic traits…