In the north- eastern parts of Ethiopia there is an alien landscape that is home to the hottest plays on earth. Getting to such place requires an expedition team with jeeps, camels, and lots of water. It is situated around a cinder cone volcano in the Danakil dessert. The Dallol hot springs are one of kind, abandoned settlements can be found in the outskirts.
It holds the record for the highest temperature for an inhabitable place. In 1966 it averaged 95F or 35C, during this time the temperature would reach up to 120 or 150 degrees. Not only being the hottest places on the planet it’s also one the most remote, paved roads are being put in by villagers, but jeeps and camel caravans are essential and are used today to collect and transport salt from the area.
When it comes to salt mining, the locals have had a unique adaptation to their bodies that allows them to work through the heat yet keep cool. They look for cracks in the ground which will chip away with an axe like tool that will further split the ground. Once a defined crack opens the workers will put multiple sticks in the whole and start jumping up and down to pop the salt block out of the earth.
A long time ago when the oceans were much higher and the whole area was flooded with water. As the water disappeared it left a large crust of salt-which explains the salt across the dessert. But what about fresh bubbling boiling salts that emerge from the hot spring for which Dallol is known for. As the salty waters from the red sea is pushed up through the surface of the rock by the volcanic pressure below, resulting in this alien landscape we see today.
The pools of water may look tempting in the scorching sun, but they are concentrated pools of acid. These are identified by yellow color. Most of the acid pools here are sulphuric acid. The consequences of falling into any one of these pools are instantaneous burns.
Although Medusa is a Greek mythological character whose eyes when people see turn into stone, the lake Natron is a real place situated in north Ngorongoro District of Arusha Region in Tanzania. It is one of the most shallow lakes in the world, its only 9.8 feet deep. The lake is a maximum of 57 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide.
Why is It dangerous?
It seems like a normal lake when you hear its name, so what makes it lethal? The lake Natron is very close to the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai, this volcano forms a rare kind of lava that consists of rich amounts of sodium and potassium carbonate. These two chemicals were the key ingredients for the ancient Egyptian mummification. Hence, this lake has that preservative in a perfect lake form. This gives the lake that Vermillion-Red vibrance.
In 2013, a wildlife photographer, Nick Brandt found out that there are dead birds found in the surface of the red water which seemed like as the bird came in contact with the water it turned into stone.
Is there Life in lake Natron?
Although lot of these birds fly into lake as its reflective and mirror-like and die and turn into stone-this lake is not barren. The lakes toxic waters provide a safe haven from predators. This is why its best suited for flamingos. Flamingos thrive in salty lakes as they have tough skin and long-scaly legs that prevent burns. They have a special gland in their nasal cavity which helps them filter water for drinking. They are able to feed on the toxic algae found all over the lake as their stomach are very strong.
Can Humans go into lake Natron?
The simple answer is no as we are NOT flamingos. As depending on the time of the year the water can be up to 60 degrees which can cause third degree burn in less than 5 seconds. You can’t take a quick dive either as the lake is very shallow and as it has high concentration of sodium there are sharp salt crystals found in the surface.
The Medusa factor:
Anything that falls into the lake Natron or touches it, won’t be turned into stone immediately. But if an animal is drowned in it and its body manages to stay submerged in the lake the entire body would harden in time and be preserved. If you find a body even after hundreds of years after becoming stone, the hair and organs would still be intact. In the ancient Egypt they used the natron salt for mummification, with which is what the whole lake Natron is made of. As the lake has high alkaline content, it stops the decomposition process.
The Maasai tribe is a tribe in which the people are very proud of their culture, and they do not want to succumb to the western modernization of the digitalized world. They are believed to migrated from northwestern Kenya in the 15th century. Over the years they spread out and settled now in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. As of today, there is a population of over 2 million people in this tribe.
In the Maasai culture old men are the leaders, they run everything in this tribe. They way there is to be ruled is determined by these men. These men have absolute power over the women and children in the society. Unlike many other tribes the Maasai worship a single god that is Enkai. Enkai has a dual nature- Enkai Narok (Black God) is benevolent, and Enkai Na-nyokie (Red God) is vengeful. They are also two totems of the Maasai society- Oodo Mongi, the Red Cow and Orok Kiteng, the Black Cow with a subdivision of five clans or family trees.
Mbatian the Greatest Spiritual Leader of the Maasai For around 200 years the Maasai were ruled by spiritual leaders known as or Laibons. Though not much is known about the origin of their ritual power it is believed that it was passed on between generations of the ole Supeet family dynasty.
A Laibon held the highest place in the social hierarchy of the Maasai. A Laibon’s position was not political, but he wielded supreme influence and power through his role as chief medicine-man, diviner, and prophet of the people. When the people desire any spiritual connection or when they need it to rain talk to the Laibon.
The Maasai people heavily rely on cattle products, they are well-known for their consumption of cow milk. They also consume raw blood, taken directly from a cow. They find a vein and cut it open and take the blood while. They claim its very nutritious for them and that’s why they have been doing it for years now. Generally, they rely a lot on cattle products as they also consume a lot of beef.
The Maasai are well known for the art of body modification such as the elongating of ears lobes and lips. All these modifications are done at a young age, and they use thorns, twigs, and stones to create the whole effect on the body. So, as they grow the whole also grows and modifications change accordingly. So, it’s not as painful as it looks! They are also very well known for their colourful and artistic jewelry and the dance they do with all the costume on.
Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea a country which found in the northern tip of the Ethiopian Plateau in the North-Eastern part of the Continent. It is naturally elevated and is at the height of 7628 feet. It is the sixth highest capital in the world by its capital. In 2017, it was declared as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. There is a population of close to one million people, it is one of the cleanest and well-planned cities in the continent.
The city Asmara is also called as the African city of Women, it is because this city has a very high population of women as compared to men. There are three times more women than men in this city.
According to Eritrean oral tradition history the history of Asmara goes back to the 800 BCE. In which it states that there were four clans initially ruling Asmara. The women suggested that these four clans come together and unite and fight against the opposing clans who are a threat. From this point on the name “Asmara” originated which typically means that “They all came together to unite”.
Asmara was formerly colonised by the Italians who used Asmara to attack the nearby countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. Later on it was passed on the British Empire. It was fully recognised as Asmara the city of Asmara in 1993 after they got their Independence in 1991 from Ethiopia.
At this day the official languages spoken in Asmara is Tigrinya, English and Arabic. Due to the Italian colonisation the city was gifted by Italian Architecture and there are about 95% Christians and 5% Muslims.
The major transportation of this city is bus even though there are also cabs. You need an Archaeological permit in order for you to visit the famous tourist spot of this city that is the National Museum. The second recommended place is the City Park which is known for people coming there for relaxation.
Eritrean economy is one of the strongest economy in the African continent. It stands at sixth place among the top ten currencies of this continent. Eritrean Nakfa is the currency which when compared to the U.S dollar its: 1USD=15ERN. The major manufacturing of this economy is agriculture and meat and diary products. As far as Exports there are mining of minerals such as gold, copper, granite, potash, etc. As the city itself is a UNESCO registered world heritage site there city revenue is majorly contributed by tourists.
The Tinga Tinga Art is considered as an art that has historical value. It is named after the Edward Said Tingatinga who copied and reinvented the art in 1968. Back then he used Masonite and bicycle paint to make the art. Through which he attracted admirers of his work from all over the world which has now become tourist attractions for Tanzania.
Tinga Tinga art is now being made in a village in Dar es Salaam. After the demise of Edward Tingatinga in 1972 there were imitators who started making Tinga Tinga art and kept the art alive. In 1990 they have formed a Tinga Tinga co-operative society. Abdul Amonde Mkura is the senior painter and head of this society as of now. He moved to Dar es Salaam in 1974 and fell in love with the art as he learnt it.
As many people might know that Africa is a country which is rich in its fauna category and there are lots of forests and desserts. It is one of the countries that is still 100% natural in many parts of it unlike all the other countries which are artificial, and man-made. Tinga Tinga art is renowned for its surrealistic and native style. There are lots of admirers of this art and even there are lots of collectors of this art.
Tinga Tinga paintings are all about imagination. Over the years these paintings have had a number of altercations, as these paintings were done on boards initially and changed to fabric material as customers found board heavy to carry. In the early stages in the village, they used to look at animals in real life and draw them from imagination now they also use the modern way of painting like sketching it first and then painting on it.
The head the Society said in an interview that he likes to paint about various subjects from his village and from his past life experiences. But his all-time favorite is drawing elephants. He has painted elephants for over 20 years. The elephants are bigger and stronger than any other animal which has a huge significance he believes. These artists of this village are astonished by the significance and the nature of animals, and they respect them. These paintings are of animal from which these people get inspiration and want others to also get it.
These paintings have evolved to the fact that the youngsters of this society make digital art based on Tinga Tinga and also they have created cartoon series with these art. Tinga Tinga is so highly respected among the Tanzanian people as it’s a curriculum in schools.
Life as a kid in Tanzania is tougher than people presume it to be. The poverty there causes children who are the future of Tanzania, into labourers. Need overcomes all their wants as they need basic necessities for their families to survive.
In Tanzania, around 4.2 million children between the ages of 5 – 17 are working as child labourers. Despite all the amenities given by the government to the people in Tanzania, families have to make their children go and work due to their financial difficulties.
Not only children but mothers are also working as labourers in tough jobs such as stone mining and etc, to earn a living. As there is a lack of rain and many families rely on agriculture as their source of income, their forced to go and work as labourers along with their children in stone mining.
In Tanzania, not only children are working as labourers, but also are forced to quit school because of the hardships they face.
The children working are in the age groups of 5–17 and some of them go to school in the morning and work during the night and some of them quit school and work full time, like from 7 a.m till 8 p.m late in the evening. If the situation is too bad they have to work till they could make buckets of stones worth 4000–5000 according to their necessity for that day.
These children don’t have the normal lifestyle that a child gets, which they too deserve. Even with all the work, most days they don’t even get 3 meals. After all the work till late in the evening and they wake up the next day only to realize they don’t have breakfast which gives them the energy they need to work.
Like every other kid, these kids also have the dream to become an officer or a doctor. But due to their school situation they can’t. They could not afford the uniforms and shoes for the school. Some of the children gave up on dreaming of going to school because they think they will not get any help.
On top of child labour being an unfair act which is still evident in many places like Tanzania, these children gets paid very little even though they work a lot. Even worse, somedays they don’t even get paid.
It is not relevant to them wether they are not well or can’t work due to any medical situation, they wake up everyday and go for work, because many of their parents also have medical problems which makes it impossible for them to work.
Some examples of typical African sports: ⦁ Capoeira: It is a well-known sport that finds its roots both in Africa and Brazil; it combines many elements such as music, martial arts and dance. Indeed, it is composed of sophisticated moves accompanied by intense and powerful kicks.
⦁ Senegalese wrestling- LAMB: It began a century ago and was recreation for fishers and farmers, but now it can be a source of earnings; in fact, top fighters can earn up to 100000 $ per fight!
⦁ Donkey racing: It is an annual race widespread in Lamu, an island free of cars, this race is beautiful, and people are very enthusiastic to see it!
⦁ Nguni- stick fighting: This stick battle can last up to 5 hours! It is an aggressive fight, and some people have died for it; hence it can be considered a bloody sport; players or people who are highly loyal to this sport think that it can be seen as a manner to find one’s cultural expression and that it can enhance skills and discipline.
⦁ Himba: It is typical of northern Namibia, Himba women are characterised by half of their body naked and reddish hair, they do not usually wash their clothes, but they take a smoke bath.
⦁ Pigmy They are people of short stature coming from the rainforest. They have always been the object of great interest. They are primarily found in the rain forests of Rwanda, Uganda and Cameroon.
Typically they are hunters with a unique and significant connection with nature.
⦁ Samburu: they are pastoralists from Northern Kenya. They raise cattle, goats, sheep and camels; as they come from a very humid place, they are usually nomads.
Serengeti Park is among the most famous wildlife parks worldwide. Its fauna comprises various animals such as 1500000 gnus, approximately 300,000 zebras and 5,000,000 gazelles. In addition, many other animals have their home there, such as thousands of lions and leopards, cheetahs, and elephants … they are all waiting for you! The Great Migration is a phenomenon that is important to deciding the Serengeti visit’s timing. During Calvin season (January to March), you should visit the southern and central areas. The other periods of the year, such as in May and June, safari visit the central and western areas of Serengeti. A fascinating piece of information is the origin of the name, which comes from the Maasai word: “Siringet”, which means “place in which the Earth flows to Infinity”. The ecosystem covers almost 15000 km2 of plants and lawns, which are flat and, in some parts, corrugated. In Serengeti, you can enjoy several different types of safaris, from the famous one in a jeep to other original options such as: by horse or on foot. If you prefer to explore it from height, you can fly on charter or even on a hot air balloon, offering you an indescribable view! But which could be the best period to visit such a spectacular place? Therefore, during the dry season, it is suggested that from June to October, this is because when rain is scarce, animals congregate where puddles are present. Thus, their observation is facilitated. Serengeti is not too difficult to reach; it can be possible through aerial way or road. Firstly, it takes approximately 5 hours of flight; otherwise, by safari by car, it will likely take around 8 hours to leave Arusha’s city.
Africa is the continent south of Europe, east of the Atlantic Ocean, west of the Indian ocean and north of Antarctica. It is the second-largest continent connected to Asia through the land bridge of Suez. It lies among the Mediterranean Sea and Indian and Atlantic oceans. Throughout its history, the continent faced several conflicts in different areas. Civil wars took place in different areas of the territory; some of the conflicts in the past happened in Chad, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, and Sierra Leone. The causes of wars are different; each conflict may originate from distinct circumstances. Still, some factors characterizing the African continent may be analyzed as disputes may arise for a diversity of elements, and they can be determining factors to examine thoroughly:
⦁ The problem of ethnicity due to heterogeneity in the African population: Rivalry for ethnic reasons is among the leading causes of conflicts in several African states, such as Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Burundi and an array of other states. Many people, who do not have in-depth knowledge of Africa, may think that this continent is just one group of people. Still, in reality, as it is a vast continent, more than 3000 groups are distinguished for different racial origins, and more than 2100 languages are spoken within this continent. In addition, there are a host of ethnical groups in Africa, so that is not simple to list all of them; the most well-known are:
⦁ Hausa (regards West Africa area, including regions like Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, and Sudan) ⦁ Hutu (comprises regions of central Africa as Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) ⦁ Igbo (encompassing regions of West Africa as Equatorial Guinea and Gabon) ⦁ Kanuri (regarding Central Africa regions like Niger and Chad)
Africa is suffering conditions of absolute Poverty consequence of an assortment of factors like severe climate and environmental challenges and contexts such as desertification which has involved severe famines and caused many victims and fatalities. A factor to be considered is the large amount of foreign debt borne by the continent, which is among the leading causes determining a worsening of the continent’s extreme poverty state. Possible solutions to causes of conflicts: ⦁ Resources evenly distributed: resources to be spread and distributed equally among the several different geopolitical areas of Africa.
⦁ Safeguard of fundamental human rights: To guarantee fundamental human rights to citizens, such as freedom of speech, religion, and association.
⦁ Elimination or at least reduction of Poverty: people who are victims of Poverty suffer outrageous living conditions causing African people massive harm, endangering their health and being a real threat to survival.
The psychology of people suffering from Poverty can be affected by conditions as above. A person threatened by the uncertainty of survival is likely to attempt to steal, hurt or demolish around and cause pain and suffering.
⦁ Equal access to Education: the whole population, including children, should be able to receive qualitative Education, being fundamental for both social as well as economic development, as it is the most compelling resource to empower people through the learning of both theoretical concepts as well as practical skills and the most such against the ignorance and robust defense against ignorance.
Weeks have gone by, my national exams were nigh, since Mr. Martin Saning’o had passed away from COVID-19. I had a dream. In the dream, Mr. Martin said to me, in Swahili, with rough translation to english as, “Dare to dream big, never give up and always have a spirit big enough to achieve your dreams. Never give up my son and remember I love you!”. I woke up emotional that day but I also had a thought. He has done great works that most don’t know of. I wouldn’t want his works to go unnoticed – I would want people to know of the works that he did and the benefits he has brought to the Maasai community in Terrat, Simanjiro. This is his story.
Martin was born in the early 1960’s in the Simanjiro district of northern Tanzania. This is in the Maasai heartland – the high arid plains south of Arusha. In common with many Maasai of his generation, Martin and his family cannot be sure exactly when he was born. But Martin believed it to be born in 1960 or 1961.
Martin was one among the minute number of Maasai children to have received education at the time. He used his education well. He wanted to give back to society that brought him up, so in the early 1990’s he founded IOPA – Institute for Orkonerei Pastoralists Advancement. Although IOPA’s first priority was to deal with land rights, it also eyed health problems and water supply problems that the Maasai in Terrat faced.
Martin became an activist, and made critical moves to ensure that the Maasai aren’t displaced from their traditional lands – The government had been displacing the Maasai at the time from areas they claimed to be ‘National Park areas’. His moves were seen to be ‘too critical’ to some in high places, and as a result the government initially refused to register IOPA.
As impossible as it may seem, Martin sued the government for displacing the Maasai from their traditional lands. At the time, more than 6000 Maasai had already been displaced by the government form National Parks. IOPA, led by Mr. Martin, filed a number of cases against the government which later on resulted in a landmark ruling by the High Court in IOPA’s favour.
Martin recognized that education was the key to enlighten the Maasai on a number of things: land rights, their own health, their livestock, the ongoing changes in the outside world, and a number of other things. He figured that a community radio would effectively serve this purpose. He took measures to establish a community radio, the first ever in Tanzania. He worked his fingers to the bone – a lot of sleepless nights – and finally the ORS FM first broadcasted news in 2002. The radio was in fact the first ever community radio in Tanzania – or in a larger perspective East Africa. It broadcast news in Kimaasai (the Maasai native language) and also played Maasai music.
After the idea of the community radio, Martin also realised that there was a need for electricity – not only for the radio station but also for the receivers of the information they portrayed. He worked on a number of projects, in association with different international organisations, to bring electricity to the Maasai people.
Martin also worked to help women facing different challenges, most especially those in the maasai areas – they were more prone to treacherous practices – such beatings from husbands, mutilation and harassment. IOPA created a safe haven where beaten women would go to and tell their stories. It also tried to prevent female genital mutilation, FGM, child marriage, and women oppression. IOPA dedicated some of its resources to educate women and raise the status of women in the Maasai society. IOPA also sought to help women economically. IOPA established dairies in Simanjiro with a long-sighted view of enabling women to sell milk and get money, they used to acquire their needs and the needs of their families. In the maasai culture, the only resource that belongs to women is milk.
Martin had broad and liberal outlook in his work, which touched each and almost every age group and social class by the time. For children, IOPA helped establish more than 50 pre-primary and primary schools across the region.
Martin’s work didn’t go unnoticed – he was elected an Ashoka fellow in 2003 and got the attention of a Dutch philanthropist, Dini de Rijcke, and began to work with her through her foundation, Strichting Het Groene Woudt (SHGW). Through working with Ashoka and SHGW, IOPA achieved many of its objectives. The Dutch foundation provided IOPA with 5 dairy plants and generators to power them across the region, and each dairy could process up to 2000 litres of milk into yoghurt, cheese, ghee and butter per day. These products were sold throughout the country. In cooperation with these organizations, IOPA was also able to work on a number of water supply projects, that bore fruits as the people in the dry Maasai lands got water with much more ease than before.
The women’s refuge centre was expanded to also be guest houses that could accommodate visitors to the area. IOPA also added additional generators to build one of the first mini-grids in the country to supply more than 1000 people in Terrat village with electricity, since the government had considered it too expensive to connect Terrat to the national electricity grid.
The IOPA centre in Terrat with guest house, community hall and dairy
Martin was bestowed various awards for his great work such as Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 by the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum Africa, the Ford Global Community Leadership Award, and Dubai Global Innovator Award.
Martin suggested that IOPA had to try and create viable micro businesses, so that even after funders ended their collaborations, IOPA would still be able to run its activities and thrive. As of today, IOPA’s remaining running projects include ORS FM radio, a few dairy plants, the conference centre, the water business, the guest house, and education and health support project in Terrat.
In 2019, IOPA was changed to Orkonerei Maasai Social Initiatives (OMASI) – an NGO – because of government laws and regulations, and by the end of 2020 Mr. Martin had achieved most of his goals and dreams.
On March 1st, 2021, Martin passed away. I can say that he hasn’t truly died because his works still live on – he lives through his works. He has left a legacy and very big shoes to fill. This story of Martin is supposed to be a motivation to anyone with big dreams, anyone who is fighting against all odds to achieve their dreams. I hope I have done his story justice.
If you will it, it is no dream; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it will stay