Green, green, green banana’s everywhere. The sweet smell of matoke mixes with the smell of sweating locals coming aboard. I took the night boat from Bukoba in Tanzania to Mwanza. It’s a ten hour journey. The boat leaves Bukoba, one of the major economic cities in Tanzania around 21.30 at night and arrives in Mwanza at around seven in the morning. The boat has three classes and a fourth class: for matoke and (like last night) a coffin. Matoke or green bananas are the staple food for a lot of people around the lake. On the way the boat stops once in Kemondo Bay where more matoke comes aboard. The big bunches of matoke have marks so people can easily recognize which bunch is theirs. It was not the first time I took the boat and I noticed a small difference with the last time, in November last year. In November there was much more activity around the boat in the water. Fishermen come to the boat to trade their fresh fish, but it seems this time they did not come. I asked around with several people, but nobody could answer me why the fisherman did not come. I could see them far away like flickering stars. I was standing on the deck with the wind blowing in my hair. A few meters below me, on the third class deck, people where sweating in their private square meter, staring at me without any expression. Mothers with children, man, drunken men: ‘Please no pictures’, the smell of urine took over from the pentrating smell of sweat when people invited me in the nose of the boat on the lowest deck. Some of them were even taking their own matoke with them, folding themselves. It was great to see and quit confronting at the same moment. Migration is a natural part of life in Africa. In fact its part of a survival life style not as a choice like the group of tourists that travelled First Class using the same boat two decks above them. Enjoy the nightboat to Mwanza! All pictures are made on mobile phone…
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