Mumbo, Jambo, Shikamoo -- a crash course in Swahili courses

18 October 2012 | 16:11 - By Karen Ashford

“Everywhere in the world is your home. It’s just that people complicate things”. This pearl of wisdom was delivered by a gently smiling woman stirring a stockpot of okra and tomato.

Her Excellency, Ambassador Salome Sijaona at her beach house. Her skill as a negotiator and diplomat is equalled by her generosity, especially in her humble village of Msindo, as I’m to discover in days to come.

“Everywhere in the world is your home. It’s just that people complicate things”. This pearl of wisdom was delivered by a gently smiling woman stirring a stockpot of okra and tomato. We’re in the spartan kitchen of Ambassador Salome Sijoana’s beach house south of Dar es Salaam, a simple thatched roof dwelling with postcard views. Drawn to the simmering pot by its luscious scent, I was asked how I was finding Tanzania. “Absolutely wonderful” was my response. “I feel at home, even though I’ve never been here before”. It turns out the erudite pot stirrer, Alberta, is one of the Ambassador’s three oldest friends who’ve gathered for a social catch up during Her Excellency’s one free afternoon in her brief return from Japan. No such formalities today, as you’d expect amongst chums who’ve known each other since primary school … Alberta, Philberta and Hilda are warm, proud, convivial women , whose own powerful roles in government haven’t diminished the banter and outright teasing that peppers their conversation over iced water and equally icy Kilimanjaro beers.