When you visit Madagascar you quickly realize that travelling around is not that simple, especially if you prefer round trips or off the beaten tracks. Distances are long and public transportation in rural areas is poor. Sure, it is quite simple to reach let's say Fianarantsoa from Antananarivo in one day, and the taxi-brousses on these roads, mainly Mercedes Sprinter, are quite comfortable. On the other hand, the trip from Tana to Morondava is an exhausting 17 to 18 hours drive, mainly at night, and sometimes when the car breaks down the trip can even take more than 20 hours. But there is no doubt - the real adventure starts where the public transportation ends!
Madagascar offers many opportunities for off the beaten tracks, particularly along the coast. A good example is the trip from Morondava to Tuléar. True, with your own 4x4 you can do the trip in 3 or 4 days via Manja. The nightly taxi-brousse from Morondava to Tuléar is only advisable if you can catch a seat in the driver's cabin of the truck. The real challenge is to follow the coastal line by a mix of pirogue, taxi-brousse and fishing trucks. However, if you choose this adventurous trip you better bring a lot of time! There is no continuous road along the coast, river crossing often requires a detour and public transportation only exists on certain part of the coastal road. Sailing pirogues strongly depend on the wind and fishing trucks, well, according to Bradt Travel Guide it is quite a "stinky journey", and after the trip in the truck you need an urgent laundry for your clothes as soon as possible :)
According to the Tanzanian Albino Society the estimation of people with albinism living in Tanzania today is between 180,000 and 270,000. Albinism is an inherited gene disorder, the albino gene is recessive and stops the production of melanin in the skin, hair and eyes. For the Tanzanian albinos it means that every day is a big challenge. They have to protect their skin from the strong sun which can easily cause painful skin burning and could result in premature death due to skin cancer. Albinism is often associated with vision defects like involuntary eye movement or the absence of an iris in the eye.
Albinism is a disability and as there is no cure it influences massively the daily life of the affected people. It starts in primary school where children with albinism are often rejected by their fellow students. For adults getting a job is very difficult. Traditional field work in the merciless African sun is almost impossible for people with albinism. Many of them end up in their own little shop, they sell fish, fruits or vegetable on the local market, or they work as merchants or salesmen. In Tanzania there is no social security, and although albinos are handicapped they don't get any money from the government.
The Samburu people from Northern Kenya are closely related to the people of the Maasai tribe in Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Like most tribes of East Africa the Samburu and the Maasai practice a rigid classification system of their community into age sets and age grades. An age set describes a generation and each individual of the age set remains permanently attached to this set. The age grade (sometimes also called 'age class') describes a stage within the age set. It is the responsibility of the elders of a tribe to initiate a new age set with a specific new name. The initiation of a new age set is always accompanied by a big ceremony, which is certainly one of the most important events of a Maasai or Samburu man's life. The elders of a tribe also determine at which age the young boys enter their first important age grade, the age grade of the warriorhood. The Maa language of the Samburu and Maasai for "warrior" is "moran".
The Mursi are seminomadic pastoralist located on the eastern side of the Omo River near the Mago National Park in South Ethiopia. Sadly, the Mursi have a bad reputation among travelers and tourists. On the one hand for many visitors the Mursi tribe is one of the main attractions in Southern Ethiopia, especially the women with the huge lip plates. But often tourists are disappointed when they meet the Mursi people on a typical day trip because of their sometimes aggressive behavior. I experienced it myself being part of a group on a day trip to the Mursi in 2008. At that time I was wondering, if it would be possible to stay a couple of weeks in a remote Mursi village to witness the authentic and real life of the Mursi tribe. Over the last 2 years I spent 6 weeks in Suri villages and more than 3 weeks in remote Mursi villages, and I confidently can say: The Mursi as well as their related Suri neighbors are not only fascinating, they are also absolutely likeable, friendly and open-hearted.
There is a lot to learn about the Mursi, starting with the language, which is fortunately almost identical to the language of the Suri tribe on the western side of the Omo River. They are eager to teach the Mursi language to their visitors, but they are also happy to learn a few words English. On the website Mursi Online even a dictionary exists in Mursi-Amharic-English which is quite helpful for the communication. The dictionary was published by David Turton, Moges Yigezu and Olisarali Olibui in cooperation with the Culture and Art Society of Ethiopia in 2008.