by William Creighton
June 4, 2000I am the General Manager of Optima of Africa Limited, a Swiss based company promoting and growing the Moringa Oleifera tree in Tanzania. For the past week or so we have had various meetings and one or two late nights with Jim Owens and Ron as well as more recently the other members of the Burton and Speke expedition.
Today we met up again after the team had gone off to Zanzibar and returned via Dhow to Bagamoyo last night for a mainland start to the expedition. The plan was to start walking at 09.00 but heavy rain delayed this for 3 hours. However we all got underway from the very point where Burton and Speke began their expedition in 1857 at around 12.00 noon after one or two photo opportunities.
Myself and Claude David from Optima walked with the group from Bagamoyo to the Ruvu river, 11 kilometers in total, in about 3.5 hours. We watched the team make its way across the river by hand pulled ferry and they were on their way. All fit and making good walking time with a steady pace. Feeling the heat and humidity near the coast and there is a general expectation of weight loss by certain members before the trip is completed. There will be some very interesting before and after shots.
The support vehicle is full to the brim with all the required gear and is always in radio contact with the team. First camp was to be made within 4 kms of the Ruvu river. The team are in great spirits for a bunch of certifiable people who want to walk 1,000 miles across Tanzania. Worth noting was the reaction of local people who asked where they all were going and when told Mwanza - total disbelief. No one does this sort of thing, do they??
From my own point of view the link up with the Moringa Oleifera tree ( " Mlonge " tree in Kiswahili) is a terrific opportunity to boost our promotion of this tree to nationwide levels and to advertise the health and economic benefits for all who will grow this tree. There are some 180 bags which include 500 seeds, information on how to plant and information on how to obtain follow up technical help and a ready market for the produce along with the health benefits and how to prepare leaves and seeds for various ailments and water treatment. We have also provided 50 technical handbooks in Kiswahili which will be left in villages.
I cannot stress enough the importance of this expedition to our efforts and would like to thank not only the expedition but also the people in the USA who have supported this incredible effort and made the whole project a success. I can assure all involved that their choosing the Moringa Oleifera tree will bring real health and economic benefits to all the farmers and villages along the route. It is our task at Optima to ensure that not only do the ideals and aims of the expedition in this respect survive but that the follow up through our office and personnel here in Tanzania ensure that the momentum is not lost and that the benefits continue long after the team return home. Ideally the next expedition will be able to follow the route by walking through Moringa orchards in years from now.
Someone from our office, hopefully myself, will meet up with the team every 2 or 3 weeks just to walk or camp overnight for a few days at a time as they make their way across Tanzania. We will be happy to provide information on progress and will pass on any messages that are sent to me at this email address. Despite the advantages of electronic mail it may take a week or so to answer specific queries, given the distances involved and the remoteness of some of the areas the team will travel through, but we are only to happy to be in a position to help.
We also have telephones at Office Dar es Salaam 7592.
Meantime the first bulletin can confirm the expedition is underway, everyone is healthy and in good spirits and making good time.
Thank you all again and God Bless and good luck to the Burton and Speke Expedition, 2000.
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