Oh, how fast time passes! It was only ‘about yesterday’ that I transferred from Dar es Salaam to Arusha, so to speak. But it was all on account of my search for greener pastures.
Actually to be more precise I was planning to spend not more than six months in Arusha before returning to Dar es Salaam, where I spent most of my early adult life.
But it is only this week that my close neighbour in Njiro - one of the suburbs in Arusha - famously known as Naman Tondi, reminded me that actually I have been in this tourist resort city for the last 35 years.
As I stated earlier, I had no intention of staying for long in this city. But, it is indeed the Sisters of Fate that control one’s life and destiny.
But this has given me the opportunity to closely monitor the major developmental changes that have taken place in Arusha.
And: how better to explain this than to narrate my experience of life in Njiro?
I became a resident of Njiro in the year 1999: 22 years ago. And that was after a period of 15 years of living and working in that city. Njiro was then, in a nutshell, a nightmare. The famous Njiro Road was full of killer potholes from Themi Hill onwards. And, indeed, we lost a number of Njiro colleagues who crashed their cars avoiding these dangerous road canyons.
The road after Themi Hill was another nightmare: rough - and even more dangerous: a very muddy or very dusty road, depending on the season.
Among others, our major and only drinking joint in the area was Kwa Tondi, naturally run and owned by our very own Naman Tondi. It wasn’t much to go by, but it was the joint for us.
On rainy days, it was quite an adventure to patronise it. Before the rain fell, we would all park our motorised contraptions outside the joint. But, as soon as it rained, we would all rush into our cars and drive them on to the main road a kilometre or so away.
Because, otherwise, the cars would be stuck in the muddy park and road for some days until the area became dry again. That is, hopefully, after enough sunshine had done its drying-up job.
After parking our cars on safe ground, we would remove our shoes and put on gumboots - which we always carried in our cars - and hoof our way back to Kwa Tondi.
The few lucky patrons would find their drinks intact. But, most of us who had left the bar in a hurry - leaving half-empty bottles on the tables - would find them gone as the waiters would have ‘dealt with them’ accordingly!
In the light of all these challenges, we actually were forced to establish our Njiro Development Association which brought together all Njiroans with the sole aim of solving our own infrastructural, social and security problems. To some extent, we achieved our goals.
But, as I said, times have changed since then. The Njiro of today is home to a number of modern drinking joints and hotels, as well as local and international institutions. These include, among others, one of the best training colleges in the country - the prestigious East and Southern African Management Institute (Esami) as well as the Tanzania Atomic Agency (TAA) and the Institute of Accountancy Arusha (IAA).
The roads are now tarmacked, and modern bungalows adorn the landscape, with the initially weather-beaten streets turned into lush green boulevards.
There are also major highways directly linking the suburb with the local Arusha Airport and the Kilimanjaro International Airport without passing through the city centre.
Several local and international companies and organisations have now established bases in this part of the city.
But, then, as a result of these major developments, my friend Tondi has decided to close his joint. It has simply outlived its relevance.
We are nonetheless delighted by all that has happened in Njiro - and, for that matter: in the city of Arusha and all over Bongoland.
Oh, how time flies!