When me and my gf went to see the Bismarck's Rock, on our way along the shore, there was a shield leaning against a rock on our path written in suaheli. Shortly after passing this sign a big female police officer appeared, demanding us to follow her and sit down under a tree. Around were few more police officers, few guys without uniform and an all the time self confidently smiling man dressed like an office clerk and looking to be the boss there. They all were relaxed and chilling, looking like having nothing to do. The smiling man was the only one speaking some English. With a smile he asked us how we were. After exchanging few sentences, he mentioned something about 50000 shillings and pointing to tha hand cuffs of one of the police officers. I did not understand, so he showed us a booklet with penalty cheques. Showing us, that there were some people (English names) who seemed to have payed some penalty. One probably bargained it down to 20000 and an other one payed the full sum of 50000.
I did not agree to pay. So one rude police officer, who rudely ordered my gf to sit down on the floor, brought to us the sign, reading it word by word. I told the English speeking eversmiling man in clerk dress, that we did not understand suaheli. I thought to myself that we had no choice but to either pay or just do nothing and check who will have the bigger patience. After some 20 minutes I turned to my gf and talked to her preparing us to keep waiting for a while. As the smiling officer probably realized, we were not that an easy target, finally he told us, we could go. Slowly we got up and walked away without turning around.
This situation made me realize, that as almost the only caucasian people in this town without local support, there was no security for us in this town. So we decided to mostly stay in the hotel for our two days and better not to come back to Mwanza ever again.
Unique Suggestions: First of all, don't visit Mwanza. There is not that much to see or do anyway. Second, keep away from Bismarck's rock. Third, if such a trap appeares to you anywhere it depends on your mentality and fearlessness. If you cannot take it, try to bargain, if you can, then let them wait.
Fun Alternatives: Pay the money and thus let them rob you. Best: avoid Mwanza!
Maybe these links will provide you with other ideas of what mwanza looks like, and what you might do in Mwanza:
Oh, yes! Mwanza has a museum, which is actually a big thing considering Tanzania's general lack of museums. Outside Mwanza is the Sukuma Museum, showing tools, buildings, clothes, medicines etc. of the sukuma - the dominating tribe in Mwanza Region. Being an ethnographer, I must shamefully admit that I haven't been there, but some of my friends went, and said it was actually a very good experience and that the museum gave a very good impression of the history and the culture of the Sukuma.
web page: www.photo.net/sukuma/