Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Little swift, palm swift, yellow-vented bulbul, pied crow. And I think that's about it. The sum total of my observations over four days in the local jail... So radio slence has been maintained for a few days, following what might be described as a rather bad day that just got worse and worse on Friday! I set off on Friday morning to meet a possible field assistant nice and early, but after a brief fuel stop was pulled over by the police (a fairly routine event hereabouts). And this time they decided I needed a special sticker because I can fit more than 7 people in the car. Never heard of it before, but he was very insistent. Eventually I agreed I'd go and pick my person up and then return to him to go to the police station and pay whatever fine it might be (apparently a standard 20000 TSh for this sort of thing). I met W and turned around back to town, only to discover no policeman to be seen. So we headed back out and off to a nice busy area where we could try things out, drover safely past the army barrack and hopped out to see if W knew any birds. (He didn't really...) And on to another point a few hundred yards further on, where we were soon aprehended by the army. Oh dear. So they took us to the barracks and interviewed us - what are you doing on army land, why do you have a GPS, where is your camera? Etc. After a little while they decided to take us to the police station in the nearby town and after one false start we got there. Meanwhile I managed eventually to get hold of our neighbour who happens to be a retired army colonel. I persuaded the captain in charge of us to chat to the colonel and as the police officer was also telling them there was no problem, no offence, they took us back down to the barracks. Here the captain, being very friendly said we should take a couple of his soldiers to immigration in town and ask them to write us a letter that would mean if we wanted to come back there wouldn't be any future problem.

On arrival at immigration, however, the officer would have none of it and wouldn't listen to anyone, just wanted to make his point. We collected my passport and at that point he told me he was going to take me to the police in Arusha because I had been doing research without having a valid permit and I would be locked up until they decided what to do with me. So began my stay with the police. Not all that comfortable for me, but much worse for poor W who after the first night was taken to the lock-up with everyone else (total prisoner count on Sunday evening was 120, all in a room aout the size of our living room... Standing room only), whilst our landlord had arranged for me to be kept in an old office with just a few others (well, up to 13, but at least we had about 10 x 4 feet of space...). Thanks to the help of many people from the Church and elsewhere (I even met the honoury British consul on Sunday!), lots of people were working very hard to find out what was going on, as no-one could really believe we were being kept there - the police were trying to bail us on Saturday, but the word was that immigration were not letting us go, whilst they were saying we were a national security threat and a taskforce had been set up to deal with things at far higher levels, so although they would like to let us go it just wasn't possible, the army were saying it wasn't a problem for them, etc., etc. Eventually, we got sorted with a very good lawyer and on Monday he managed to threaten enough people that we were finally bailed at about 5pm... You probably don't want all the details of the previous very days - suffice to say I was treated well enough, Mama was able to come and feed W and I at regular intervals and keep us posted with activities elsewhere, but after four days without water to wash in, and only a hard chair to sleep in, I was not looking my best when finally released (though Kitty thought I might want to keep the beard...):

Nothing is finally resolved, and W and I had to report to the police at 8 this morning, and will have to check in again at 9 tomorrow and Thursday. But the general feeling seems to be that the police are ready to drop the charge they have, of criminal tresspass, because (a) we weren't on land owned by the army anyway and (b) you can't accidently tresspass, it must be intentional and there's no way they can prove we intend this anyway (especially as everyone now believes that we didn't!). But immigration are causing a much bigger fuss (though somewhat less after they recieved a copy of my research permit yesterday morning). So we'll wait and see - hopefully the meeting on Thursday will be the end of everything (the laywer expects this), but I still do need the resident's permit or we have to leave anyway... (and it's definitely preferable to leave than be sent to jail - though this seems impossible now) So, we will see. I must say, it's nice to be free! Now we have to pick up all the things that have been undone over the last few days...


  1. What an ordeal. For all of you. Love to you all.

  2. So sorry to hear this guys! You seem in good humor.. hope that lasts!! We are praying that you will get all the paper work sorted that you need. It's always tricky when different people say different things, and want different pieces of that paperwork. Lots of love from us, God bless.

  3. And suddenly our hospital stay looks like a walk in the park. Glad the four of you are back together again and sincerely hope it stays that way.
    Much love,
    the aged sibling

  4. That's tough Colin but it looks like you are through the worst, hang in there. And maybe you should have kept the beard!