Magazine article UN Chronicle

Dodoma: Where the Elephant Sank. (Water Watch)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Dodoma: Where the Elephant Sank. (Water Watch)

Article excerpt

Dodoma became a name before it became a town. There are different stories about how it happened. One story is that some Wagogo stole a herd of cattle from their southern neighbours, the Wahehe, then killed and ate the animals, preserving only the tails, and when the Wahehe came looking for the lost herd, all they found were the tails sticking out of a patch of swampy ground. "Look", said the Wagogo, "your cattle have sunk in the mud, Idodomya". Dodoma in chigogo means "it has sunk". There is yet another commonly accepted story. An elephant came to drink at the nearby Kikuyu stream (so named after the Mikuyu fig trees growing on its banks) and got stuck in the mud. Some local people who saw it exclaimed "Idodomya", and from that time on the place became known as Idodomya--the place where it sank.

There was little or no grass suitable for thatching, so the Wogogo developed an intricate structure of the tembes, roofed with sticks and clay, and supported inside by poles placed asymmetrically. The Wogogo composed music of exceptional quality; they created an oral culture with puzzles, jokes and legends, along with a tradition of craftsmanship, most notably in basket weaving. The history of the Dodoma region is a history of seasons--a history almost rhythmic in its ups and downs, periods of fat and lean years, marked by extraordinary endurance. The dominating influence of the climate on life in the region is the uncertainty--when rain fell evenly and plentifully, food was in abundance and the living good; when the rain failed, scarcity or even starvation would follow.

The Dodoma Rural District is the administrative capital of Tanzania and is situated in the middle of the country. The town grew steadily in population and size, and many of the older shops and houses gave way to larger and more modern buildings. The trees from the 1930s and 1940s, now maturing, provide a somewhat softening touch along the dusty streets. The tin roofs and wooden shutters of the smaller dukas (shops) tend to break the angular inflexibility of the new style. Dodoma is still a mini-city.

In Dodoma, the Water Supply and Health Project in Marginal Areas is supported by a grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development through the Belgian Survival Fund. The Project, encompassing Dodoma rural and Kondoa districts, aims to provide the rural people with better access to clean drinking water, community health care and implementation of water and sanitation development programmes. …

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