Years ago, before I set foot on this continent, I read “The Golden Light of Africa” by Erna Gianotten. She describes the life of the wife of a tropical doctor, Emma, who works for several years in a missionary hospital in Tanzania. She mainly describes the dull period of three months of rainy season in which rains constantly turn life upside down.
The golden light of Africa
It is, I think, the only book I ever read about Tanzania in addition to all the other books I read about Africa, such as the poison bible in Congo, Hotel Rwanda, ‘Out of Africa’ and the White Maasai in Kenya and the Surgeons in Ethiopia and many others . All recommended, some serious, others (too) romantic, but they all give a glimpse into Africa. But perhaps ‘The Golden Light of Africa’ was the book that sucked me to Tanzania. Emma lived mainly in and around her house when her husband was working. Snakes, insects, an affair with an adventurer and heavy deliveries in the mission post have stayed with me, but especially her description of the eternal rain. Three months of rain, which means mud everywhere, the laundry does not dry, cars get stuck and so on. I can imagine a rainy day in the Netherlands at the end of the summer, early in the autumn. Rain all day, but it can still be a bit hot. But then for three months … I always wondered if it really is.
The rainy season
It is now rainy season and although it has not rained enough for the crops, I think it’s enough. When in February the thunderstorms gather around the Kilimanjaro around noon, I am happy. The first showers fall in February, but those are only showers. From April it starts to rain, but the amount varies per year. Last year we had days of uninterrupted rain. The laundry did not dry anymore, our sand road turned into a large mud pool, but my delft blue boots came in handy. Last year it lasted until mid-May. This year it was raining until last week. It rained a lot and today I put on my last dry clean pants. It poured when I left home, but now it is dry. Hopefully the sun will keep coming so that I have some clean dry clothes tomorrow.
That it does not rain for three months, according to many, has to do with climate change. On the other hand, it rained for two months without interruption. It is also said by several people that it is dry this year. Well, I do not see it that way, but I have only been here for seven years and I am not dependent on growing crops such as corn, beans and bananas. But many others see that here. In line with that, we can of course talk about the ‘eternal snow’ that is not eternally on the Kilimanjaro. It is expected that there will be no glaciers in 2025. I wonder how we should survive, because a large part of our drinking water comes from those glaciers, but more about that again.