‘Why I fell in love with Tanzania’

Angie Miller also to enjoy some 'sip and paint' by the beach at the Overhang in Kigamboni. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • When Angie Miller came to Tanzania for the first time 10 months ago, she did not know that she would not only make hundreds of memories but that she would also create a connection with the locals and fall in love with Tanzanian culture.
  • In a one-on-one interview with Anganile Mwakyanjala, The Citizen’s travel correspondent, she unravels her experience. The story is transcribed by Lilian Ndilwa.

QUESTION: When you were growing up in Michigan State in the United States, what was your first impression of Tanzania?

ANSWER: Michigan is known as the “Great Lakes State” since it’s surrounded by five lakes. Growing up, we would go to what we thought was the beach, but I found out that it’s entirely different in Tanzania. Tanzania is the most beautiful country in the world.

What is the most memorable place you have ever visited in Tanzania?

Without a second thought, it’s the Ngorongoro Crater. While in the US, I grew up watching animations such as The Lion King, which gave me ideas of how different parts of Africa are, but when I was on the ground, it completely surpassed my expectations. I remember we were in the jeep driving through the fog, and for a minute, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. It seemed so cool. I saw animals up close that I had never even seen pictures of.

How different did it feel?

To see animals in their natural habitat, be it procreating, chilling, or hunting, is different from seeing them in a zoo or in pictures. It felt amazing.

I see that you’re rocking a kitenge; what pushed you to wear it?

I believe vitenges carry messages. They are vibrant, and they have ways of making statements and making the person wearing them feel good. Something I learned here is that locals use Pinterest to seek inspiration for making fabrics.

Angie Miller on safari at the Tarangire National Park.

You visited Zanzibar during your travel experience in Tanzania; how did it feel visiting the island?

Zanzibar remains one of my favourite places in Tanzania, and the first time I ever visited it, I learned about the history of Stone Town and the slave trade. I also visited an island with some of the oldest turtles in the world, including a 200-year-old turtle. As someone who enjoys snorkeling and has done so in various parts of the world, nothing compares to the snorkeling in Zanzibar.

What other experiences did you have in Zanzibar?

I did a local cooking class with spices that we bought from the spice market. I also had painting sessions at the beach. It all felt very luxurious and heavenly.

What did you like about Dar es Salaam?

One of my favorite moments in Dar es Salaam was when I visited the small islands near the region, such as Sinda and Bongoyo. It took about 15 minutes to get from one island to the other in this cool little boat. It didn’t even feel like I was in Dar es Salaam due to how private the islands felt.

Angie Miller and a friend at one of the night club found in Masaki, Dar es Salaam.

How were you able to find these places and things to do?

I found most of them on Instagram, and some of our friends recommended some places like The Overhang, which was absolutely the best.

What did you try to do differently to get a diverse experience?

After Zanzibar, I asked my neighbours at the apartment I was staying in Dar es Salaam to cook me local food in exchange for the American food I made for them. The exchange made us not only taste different kinds of foods, but we ended up understanding two cultures connected by the stories of the food we cooked. This gave me the opportunity to taste foods like chapati and Vitumbua while preparing foods like mozzarella sticks and chicken wings for them.

What is your favourite Tanzanian dish?

I choose ‘zege’ (French fries with eggs); it’s the most underrated food, and if it were cooked in the States, it would blow up.

How long have you been in Tanzania, and how much Kiswahili do you know?

I have lived in Tanzania for about 10 months, and I am still learning the language.

What are some of the Kiswahili words you would advise foreigners to learn when they visit the country?

That’s very coincidental because one of my friends will be visiting shortly before I leave, and I have prepared keywords for him to learn and use during his visit. words like mambo, habari za mchana, niaje, karibu, poa, ndio, hapana, and the like. One of the most important things to learn when coming to Tanzania is the greeting culture. With the welcoming culture in this country, it does not matter if you get the words wrong; it shows that you are trying.

What about the prices of things during your visit?

Tanzania is very affordable when it comes to touring. During my visit to different parts of this country, I have been able to stay in five-star hotels, something I rarely do in the US. In this country, you can be on vacation every weekend and it will still be cheap.

One of the activities that foreigners do when they visit the country is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro; have you had the experience?

It is like you have peeked into my schedule because I am planning to go to Kilimanjaro in January 2023, I am not going to climb it (laughs), I just want to see it from afar. I watched the Royal Tour, and I saw the aerial views of the mountain. It is a must-visit.

If you were to recommend places to visit to another foreigner to visit while in Tanzania, what places would top the list?

They must go on safari to the Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha, and Zanzibar.

You are also known as ‘mama pundamilia (Zebra’s mother). Why is that?

Like zebras, I am fun to be around, I am peaceful, and I love wearing clothes with prints and stripes. Everyone who goes on a safari should, thereafter, get a name that resembles something they experienced during their safari.