Reminded of my dangerous sojourn in Mbeya many, many years

Saturday January 12 2019


By Danford Mpumilwa

So, here I was, in Mbeya City. That was last week. The last time I was here was 44 years ago. Then, I was a second year student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).

Then I was on college holiday and decided to visit my cousin brother, the late Asaph, who was by then an Electronics Engineer with the then Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD), Mbeya station.

He used to reside in Mabatini, along the Mbeya - Tunduma highway. In that area there were, among other things, several pubs which, naturally having nothing much to do, I religiously patronised them, funds allowing.

But one pub, run by one Mzee Mtweve, attracted me most. I believe it was on account of it having heart-stopping music and disco for the youth.

With my nimble and slender body I was a sensation dancing to those ‘bumping’ styles till dawn.

Then it happened that the local DJ who had travelled to Zambia failed to report back. With my music background I volunteered to take his place. Also the stipend I would receive would alleviate my financial woes.


To say I performed miracles is an understatement. I was a sensation. Soon the place was sold out every night.

With my understandably good English, residents of that city began spreading rumours that there was a new DJ in town from South Africa. Now, I was considered for a permanent DJ post at the establishment, and the stipend had doubled.

It was this popularity that caught the attention of some Zambian college-mates who were transiting Mbeya from Lusaka. They decided to visit the joint only to find out the so-called famous South African DJ wss in reality their fellow student from Njombe.

It was this popularity which put an end to my exciting crazy DJ career. And surely saved me from total life disaster.

When the Zambian students reached UDSM they were shocked to learn that the university authorities were looking for an abscondee student, who was me.

The Zambian students decided to report to the authorities about my adventurous sojourn in Mbeya. So one night, and out of the blues, I was literally arrested at my ‘work’ station and escorted back to Dar es Salaam and my university. I had already missed one whole month of classes.

I never went back to Mbeya till last week. And my going there was by default.

It so happens that I and my two school-going daughters and their mother were in Njombe, for the end of year holidays.

However, my daughters had to necessarily rush back to Arusha in time for their schools’ opening term. Bus tickets were bought in time. And they were to board, at Halali near Makambako, a bus originating from Mbeya.

But surprisingly, on the travel day, the bus and many others simply zoomed by without collecting my daughters and the many other bonafide passengers. Thousands of other passengers were also left stranded at either stations along the route.

Apparently the bus operators had decided to short-change these innocent passengers for easy and inflated fares in Mbeya. Hazards of the festive season.

I was, to say the least, furious. There and then I decided to drive with my daughters to Mbeya, some 141 km away. I confronted the bus operator, claimed my refund and bought new tickets, for the following day, from another bus operator.

I therefore had to spend the night in Mbeya at the legenday Nkwezulu Hotel.

However, before hitting my bed I decided to re-visit my old Deejaying joint. It was not there. In its place was a chaotic local market.

Later, however, I had some exciting and memorable experience at the spacious Mbeya City and night club before patronising another interesting joint, the Mbeya Carnival.

The former small town, where I almost lost my education opportunity, is now a thriving metropolis. But the roads in that city are, to say the least, pathetic.