In the afternoon the women gave away a demo tailoring goatskin dress. They were amazingly skilled. It takes a lot of drying, preparing, cutting, sewing and decorating before a living goat becomes such a beautiful dress. It's also very valuable as she told me that she can make $50 from a finished dress.
Inbetween we had a pleasant 2-way conversation in which the women wondered how the cows looked like in Holland, if we had also goats and if we also used their skins for making dresses.
The bikes were repaired and the sun was not so sharp anymore. Time to go back. It had been a pleasant and interesting day!
While his women were busy getting water , milking cows or pounding maize, the teacher was having his siësta while listening to a small radio. I was playing a bit with the kids -if I wanted or not- but it was fun..
The most exiting -and actually the only- thing that happened was when a bunch of young cows ran inside the boma straight in the house of one of the women. She shouted something to the kids who joined in the action and kicked the calfs outside. hm..very interesting.
After the walking "tour" we returned to the first boma to eat our (prepacked) lunch in the man's dwelling. Hamade -my guide- left to have the tyres of the bikes repaired.
I took a 3 legged stool, placed it outside in the shadow and the many children of the 2 wives approached me carefully and later surrounded me.
I found it amazing to see the simple toys the kids were enjoying. A girl ran after a tyreless wheel, a small boy enjoyed walking with a paper ambulance and two young teenage boys were having fun with a selfmade instrument from a piece of wood that made a whistling sound!
We continued our walk and visited some boma's to meet and talk to the people living there about traditions.
Besides some innocent traditions like giving dowry's to the father-in-laws, the Barbaig also upkeep more controversial traditions like arranged (i.e. forced) marriage, circumcision for 12yo girls, worshipping ancestors and practicing animism, although the Tanzanian gov and NGO's are pushing them hard to change.
Concerning the genital mutilation of girls is said that the Barbaig do understand the opposition but the tradition is so deeply rooted that they believe their ancestors will punish them if they change and it will affect their reproductive health.
After a while, a neighbour came in to give an enjoyable little show in a more accepted tradition - fighting with sticks, spears and arrows/bow....!
We went out for a walk around the spread out settlement. Although the Barbaig are semi-nomadic and self sufficient, the Tanzanian government put a lot of efforts in developing the area.
We visited the primary school that is expanding enormously since most children go to school nowadays. The profits from the Tour are partly used for this purpose. Even in recent years it was very uncommon for the children -especially the girls who had to assist their mother who is responsible for working- to go to school.
After that we visited a dispensary, that had a small fridge in use for storing vaccines and medicine against malaria -with AIDS the most common serious illness. It employed also a doctor specialised in delivering women, something very useful since quite a lot of women have dangerous complications due to circumcision.
A big change from the herbs of the local medicine man or the rituals of the witch doctor!
We parked the bikes near a boma -an enclosure made from cut thorn bushes to protect against wild animals - that consisted of 3 houses made of sticks and mud and with a dozen of cows within it's compound.
It was the property of a schoolteacher in his mid fifties and his 2 wives, one of whom was very young. One of them welcomed us and went inside, apparently to change her clothes.
For the brochure promised that these people would wear traditional goatskin clothes!Times are changing, even many Barbaig women prefer working in cotton t-shirts to goatskin nowadays :-)
The valuable goatskins are mainly worn for ceremonies and celebrations.
In the village of Katesh, situated about 2,5 hrs. by local bus from Babati, we rented bicycles for the 16km / 2 hour ride to the settlement of Dirma.
The area around Katesh is a little hilly, some of it cultivated. Spectacular Mt. Hanang dominates the views on the horizon.
Since the roads are not sealed and given the presence of thorn bush along the trails, you look foolish if you don't bring a pump on the carrier ;-).
Anyway, it's an excellent way to see the countryside and meet it's inhabitants.
On arrival in Babati a kind man I met in the bus guided me to the only proper hotel in the little town and then to Mr. Kahembe, coordinator of the program. Nobody there.
I went back to my room and fell asleep, but not for long as someone knocked on my door. A young man -the local guide Hamade- told me to meet Mr. Kahembe at 6pm.
I fell asleep again and woke up shortly after, I dressed myself to see what was going on. At the back of the hotel was a Salvation church, people were dancing all around, chanting and singing; others lying and crying on the floor. I was astonished and stayed until the end!
Afterwards we shook hands and had a chat, so that I arrived late at Mr. Kahembe's, but of course he was still waiting. Visitors don't arrive here every week. We discussed my wishes and decided to leave the next morning to Katesh, Hamade (the guide) and I.
day 1: transfer to Katesh, 2 hours by local bus;
day 2: daytrip to Barbaig settlement by bicycle;
day 3: climbing the Mt. Hanang (3417 m.).
day 4: transfer back to Babati;
Food and acc. in local guesthouse.
All inclusive price $85,-- which made it the most expensive cultural program trip I took.