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Pole to Pole

Day 102: Dodoma to Kigoma

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe servants of God are certainly here in force. Religion seems to be the growth industry. On one of the major intersections the Indian Christians' huge domed neo-classical chāteau stands next to the sweeping modern red-brick lines of the Lutheran cathedral, which in turn faces across to the squat polygonal towers and domes of the Anglican church.

The English language Daily News has a sports headline with a familiar, almost nostalgic ring: 'Angry Fans on Rampage'. Football is popular here, with a big match in prospect tonight as Black Fighters of Zanzibar take on Railways of Morogoro, whose players most likely have TRC stencilled somewhere on their bodies.

At ten minutes after midday a large metal cylinder hanging outside the office of the stationmaster at Dodoma is rung loudly, and the purveyors of nuts, eggs, bananas, dried fish, sweet potatoes, rubber sandals, fresh water, loaves of bread, toy aeroplanes and other travellers' fare edge closer to the railway track. Beginning as a distant shimmer, a diesel locomotive with a red cow-catcher and a distinctive yellow V on the front slowly materializes, bringing in the express from the port of Dar es Salaam, 280 miles to the east. It's an enormous relief to see it. This and the boat down Lake Tanganyika are two of the essential connections on the journey. Neither is easy. There is an element of uncertainty about our right to seats on the train as none of our bookings has been confirmed, and indeed all our compartments are occupied. Polite persuasion is not enough and we just have to move in and hope that the sight of thirty boxes of film equipment will put the skids under someone. An emotional farewell to Kalului and Kabagire, who have looked after us since the Ethiopian border. I leave Kalului my Michelin map - Africa North-East and Arabia - which I know he coveted.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 102
  • Country/sea: Tanzania
  • Place: Dodoma
  • Book page no: 228

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