Tanzania 5 November: Dar es Salaam

Final Day of the Southern Africa Peace Run 2013

Our second day in Dar es Salaam dawned with cloudy skies, but thankfully no rain (not yet, at least). After a somewhat hasty, but much appreciated breakfast, we were collected by our new team member and good friend, Amina Nchahaga.

Our first appointment was at Lakeland Africa, a Tanzanian owned company offering rental cars and vehicles predominantly to the tourist market. Some weeks before our arrival in Dar es Salaam, the owner of Lakeland Africa, Mr Silva Muniko, spontaneously came forward after hearing about our Peace Run plans from team member Stacey, to offer a support vehicle for the team, free of charge, as well as the assistance of his public relations manager, Amina Nchahaga. Silva's oneness and generous support was pivotal in making this year's event a great success and his contribution in kind wholeheartedly embraces the spirit of the Peace Run, which continues only because of people like Silva who truly value peace.

To honour and recognise Silva's unique contribution, the Peace Run Team unanimously decided to present Silva with the Torch Bearer Award, an honour bestowed on friends of the Peace Run who have demonstrated through their lives and personal example, a solid and tangible commitment to peace in the world. Previous recipients of the Torch Bearer Award include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Sudhahota Carl Lewis.

Before Silva knew that he would be receiving the award, he spontaneously spoke about the history of the transformation of Tanzania from a nation largely divided along ethnic lines to one united in the spirit of a common nationality under the banner of freedom, unity and peace. He also spoke of his own personal journey in which his identify as a Tanzanian helped him to move away from any kind of ethnic identification to his sense of everyone in Tanzania being part of a common humanity.

Representing the Peace Run, Abhijatri then presented Silva with the Torch Bearer Award.

In addition to Silva, the Team also presented the Torch Bearer Award to Amina, who immeasurably supported this year's Peace Run in Dar es Salaam through her ever-cheerful and enthusiastic service to the cause of peace by organising visits to schools, inviting government officials and prominent citizens, obtaining required approvals from relevant authorities and contacting local media, as well as by being the Tanzanian member of the Peace Run Team in Dar es Salaam.

Both Silva and Amina looked genuinely surprised, but at the same time elated to receive this unexpected honour.

A Certificate of Appreciation was then presented to Lakeland Africa, along with prints of two of Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy's Jharna-Kala (fountain-art) artworks entitled "Peace feeds the children", and "Oneness".

The whole ceremony was a most dignified and inspiring occasion and it was with beaming smiles and light hearts that the team took their leave of Lakeland Africa and headed off for their first school visit of the day.

Joining us on our second day in Dar es Salaam as a member of the Peace Run team was Palemo Massawe, a veteran and supporter of two previous Peace Runs in the city (seen here with friend and team member Haryaksha Knauer).

Our first school on this day was Aga Khan Primary School in the Upanga area of Dar es Salaam, close to the city centre.

Our arrival at the school was heralded by a spectacular torrential downpour, which was a refreshing and welcome change from the hot and dusty days we had spent on the long train trip from Zambia.

Upon entering the school, we were instantly drawn to a large board where various notices gave us a strong impression of a school committed to both a peaceful school environment and the education of enlightened young people.

As we entered the school hall and ascended the stage, we were cheered on by an enthusiastic group of school pupils.

And were formally welcomed by Mr Thomas Bernard, Deputy Head of the School.

Abhijatri introduced the Peace Run on behalf of the team.

A group of school pupils then came up on the stage and sang the Peace Run song, under the able direction of Mrs Ramadevi Sankaman Iyer – main organiser of the day.

Members of the team then invited the school pupils to guess which country they were from. First up was Stacey, whose clue was an introduction in one of the official languages of her country.

There were several enthusiastic guesses ...

... but one young girl, Sophie, kept her hand up with determined restraint, eventually calling out the right answer of "New Zealand".

It turned out that, like Stacey, Sophie too is from New Zealand and therefore instantly recognised Stacey's introduction in the language of Maori.

Stacey was followed by Amina ...

... Michon ...

... and Palemo.

The team then sang the World Harmony Run song and taught the song and accompanying actions to everyone in the hall.

This was followed by a moment of peace, where everyone was encouraged to try to feel peace inside their hearts.

At the end of the Team's presentation, homeroom teacher Eliamani Sakari's dance group put on a dynamic and colourful cultural performance.

The team then presented Deptuy Head, Mr Thomas Bernard, with a Certificate of Appreciation and a print of one of Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy's Jharna-Kala (fountain-art) artworks on the theme of peace.

Everyone was also given an opportunity to hold the peace torch and to make a wish for peace ...

... an event treasured by all present ...

... especially the Deputy Head!

At the back of the stage, a beautiful poster display had been prepared for the Peace Run Team on the theme of peace.

The final event was a short Peace Run within the school grounds from the hall to the main entrance (thankfully the rain had now stopped!).

Special thanks to Mr Thomas Bernard and Mrs Mrs Ramadevi Sankaman Iyer for their enthusiastic support of the Peace Run. We do hope we will be able to return to Aga Khan Primary School soon!

Our next and last school for the day was Diamond Primary School, only a few kilometres from Aga Khan PS. The team headed straight for the school arriving just as another downpour descended from above. After several minutes of waiting in the shelter of one of the school buildings, our support vehicle did not appear. Only later did we find out that they had not been able to get the vehicle started and had then had to proceed by foot and tuk-tuk through the heavy rain.

Our presentation this time was to selected representatives of three classes.The classroom blackboards had been decorated with poignant reminders of the importance of peace in Tanzania and the world.

After a short introduction to the Peace Run, the assembled pupils peformed several moving songs.

Members of the team then invited the children to guess where they were from.

American, Haryaksha Knauer, was delighted to hear an excerpt from a famous speech of Martin Luther King Jr on the theme of peace and freedom by teacher Joseph Kamlina in response to his clue.

The team then led the class in an exercise to feel peace inside the heart for a few moments ...

... before Stacey presented a Certificate of Appreciation and a print of one of Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy's artworks on the theme of peace to Teachers Hilda Ngeze and Mary Mlay.

The torch was then passed around and everyone had a chance to reflect on peace for a moment, as well as the many world figures, such as Nelson Mandela, who have already offered their dreams and aspirations for peace in support of the Peace Run.

Members of the class were then invited up to show the team the drawings or paintings they had prepared in honour of the Peace Run visit.

Are these not the faces of a better and brighter world?

We were then fortunate to be invited to meet Assistant Head Teacher, Florentina Mgeleka, who very graciously welcomed the team and received the artwork entitled "Evening Peace".

The gardens at Diamond Primary School have been beautifully landscaped with an array of spectacular tropical plants, including this fan-shaped palm.

And this magnificent mango tree!

There was also time for a group photo with our new school friends, Mrs Mgeleka and the Head Teacher who arrived just as the event was finishing (seen here in the foreground of the photo).

As not only our last school in Dar es Salaam, but also our last school on the Southern leg of the Africa Peace Run 2013, we left a little subdued but buoyed up by the enthusiastic farewell we received from our new friends.

To finish the day in true Tanzanian style, we then visited Coco Beach where we enjoyed a brief swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean followed by a drink of fresh coconut water and a snack of cassava chips.

The coconut vendors at the beach were all drawn to our smiling faces and colourful T-shirts and so after a short explanation by Amina, we finished the day with one last group photo - this time with another group of new friends.

Thank you Dar es Salaam and Tanzania for so enthusiastically receiving the Peace Run!

The Run now moves to Arusha from where members of the Peace Run Team will carry the Torch to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.