It’s the rainy season here in Tabora, and we’re getting wet.
Rain is the essential driver of planting cycles, cash flow, and water availability. As soon as the cloud cover promised to stay for a while, people grabbed their djembe’s and ran to the fields. This is one of the busiest farming seasons in Tabora, when haste certainly does not make waste. The rains mean it’s time to put the seeds in the ground; it’s time to start growing some maize. No one said it better than our friend, Kasimu, who rode through town on his bicycle screaming “It’s raaaaaining money!” (Mvua pesa!) People in the village draw a direct correlation between rain and food supply. When we were asking Mama Tabia about last year’s hunger season, she said that due to the amount of rains we’ve had, people wouldn’t be going hungry. Whether this is a fair correlation, we aren’t sure, but it is clear that the powerful rains do more than just make mud.
Rain also means that we get clean(er) water to drink. As soon as we hear the deafening pitter-patter above us, we run outside with buckets and basins to collect the water coming off the roof. It’s a welcomed treat from the scuzzy water we get at the tap. You have to move fast, though, or else the neighboring children will snatch the best corner spot.
As crucial as the rains are for farming, planting, and next season’s harvest, they can also put a damper on things. The small, dirt paths leading up to Tabora become impassable, even on a pikipiki (motor bike). We’ve had some very exciting rides back from Korogwe, barely making it around the lake-like mud puddles. The town gets flooded as well. People have dug ditches around the town to channel the excess runoff into a safer place. But all in all, the rains are a symbol of production, food to eat, and overall well being. It means it’s time to pull on the boots and get to work.