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Title 1. The Beginning.Tanzania, 1972 – 1974.

Klerruu College of National Education, Iringa, Tanzania

On my return to Denmark from Stanford University at Easter time in 1970, I was immediately asked to take up a position as teacher at Rosenlund Primary School, Ballerup, a teacher training school for the nearby Day and Night Teacher Training Seminarium. I had an idea of working for a couple of years at the school and then in the meantime to look for suitable positions in the Danish Development Agency as an Expert Teacher Trainer. The late President of  Tanzania, Julius K. Nyerere and his political party TANU, had declared universal primary school education in Tanznaia. DANIDA had been involved in building several new Teacher Training Colleges in different parts of the country. They were all staffed with Danish college teachers, and I was going after a position as Head of Teacher Centre Department, and eventually I was told that a replacement in Iringa was open, and DANIDA would consider the possibility of offering that position to me, but I had to have at least two years primary school teaching experience, which in Denmark also is the minimum requirement for a position as Civil Servant. I signed the contract for two years with DANIDA and later, when I arrived in Tanzania I went to the Ministry of Education in Dar es Salaam to sign another but local contract as a Tanzanian Civil Servant, in fact a situation which does not exist any more, where the basic salary is paid by the host country and the salary is topped up by the development agency in the country from where you had been hired for the job.

It was time for the small family of four persons to buy the tickets, store our furniture and to say goodbye to family and friends, and without any home leave for two years we all went to East Africa, Jeanette 3 years of age, Jan 6 years, Lisbet and Jørgen both 32 years of age.

We started off with SAS from Copenhagen via Frankfurt – refueled in Athen – again had some more fuel in Jeddah and off- loaded some passengers in Nairobi before we landed in Dar es Salaam from where the plane continued to Johannesburg. A very long trip with two children, but we all managed to keep the spirit high, because we were “going to Africa”, as Jeanette told us time after time. A couple of days rest in steaming hot Dar es Salaam did some good things for all of us, and soon it was time to return to the airport and take the daily flight to Iringa by the East African Airways, Douglas C-47 Dakota, but it had a punctured tire that day, the African style, so a couple of days later they had managed to clear four seats among bundles of banana fruits, newspapers and mail sacks, and we entered the plane and they lighted up the primus stove and served a nice cup of black tea, a sandwich and of course all the banana’s we could eat, and now we flew over the African landscape and saw it unfolding underneath the plane for the first time, a landscape which would be so familiar to us for the rest of our time we spend in the middle of the Tanzanian Highlands. My predecessor met us in Iringa Airport and I did spend the rest of that summer learning from all his experiences.

Teacher Centre Department was developed as an unit inside the College, where we had our own building and classrooms, and a special number of rooms in the dormitory were set aside for our students, as we were expected to qualify grade C teachers for a grade B diploma, and grade B teachers for Grade A diploma in the field of Communication. Teachers were in great demand in the local primary schools all over Tanzania and one way of getting already qualified teachers upgraded to a higher teaching standard of performance, was to let them return to a Teacher Training Colleges for everything ranging from a seminar during a weekend to three month intensive education at the Teacher Centre Department. A very popular thing among the local teachers was when we arrived at their District Center School for a weekend seminar together with them, as it was a “hands on” experience of new and old communication technology for the local teachers at the schools, where they were working on a daily basis.


Leave abroad was not an option, and that was why local leave was so popular. We learned from our Danish colleges on campus to get the most out of our holidays, and during our two years of service, we had the great fortune to go on Safari several times to our local Ruaha National Park and to Mikumi National Park on the road to Dar es Salaam. Several tours were organized to the beach at the Indian Ocean to hotels like Africana, Kunduchi Beach Hotel and Bahari Beach Hotel, but also Nairobi, Tsavo National Park and Mombasa in Kenya was visited, twice.

Traveling inside East Africa was easy, but we were eager to board a ship on Lake Malawi and we would like to sail from the northern part of the lake, Nkhata Bay, to the Capital Lilongwe, and then offload the car from the ship and drive to Lusaka in Zambia along the border of South Rhodesia, where we were stopped and searched very thoroughly several times, as if we were white representatives from the Rhodesian Government on an unfriendly mission, and the search was done on gunpoint.

In Lusaka we did stay with some Indian Friends and we were treated as family and shown around in the city of Kampala, before we some days later continued on the long trip home to Iringa via Kapiri Mposhi and Mbeya. Crossing borders between the East African community and countries outside the community was difficult during those years, and it took a lot of preparation and paperwork to get permission from e.g. The National Bank of Tanzania, as you should have permission to export/import your vehicle and from the Ministry of Education, to make sure that you returned with everything you exported including your family and yourself, but we eventually got all the permissions, and we all had a fantastic tour together.

When family and friends arrived, we often used the nearby National Parks for our Safaris, but places like the Tea Plantations in Mufindi and the Tobacco Farms in Sao Hill as well as the Stone Age site in Isimila ( and the Italian Monastery in Tosamaganga with the first Catholic church built in Tanzania, which was our closest medical service at that time, proved also to be interesting places, as they were all placed in the Southern Highlands, and only one or two hours’ drive from our home in Iringa.

To give all nationalities stationed in Iringa a common place to meet, we were asked by the Regional and District Commissioners to help reopen Iringa Club with all its facilities, bar, poolroom, library, film hall, tennis courts and 9 holes golf course, and it became the focal point of all the daily and weekly social activities during our entire time of duty in Iringa.


In 1994 we returned to Iringa together with Jeanette and Lars, on one of our Safari trips to Ruaha National Park, and we showed them the house in which we had lived, and the place I had worked and where we had spent our free time, and we also showed them the marked in Iringa and Iringa Town, where we have had two fantastic adventures years, which might had contributed to the way they has chosen to create their own future and family life.

Returning to Denmark in 1974 meant 9 years of turbulence, starting by reemployment in Ballerup, and as I moved from a position as teacher to Vice Principal during 1974, the family moved from our apartment in Roedovre to a small house in Sengeloese and a year later to a big house in Bagsvaerd, where Lisbet was born and had lived all her life. Lisbet’s father had died and we were given the possibility to buy their house, a rare and fantastic opportunity. We ended up living in a very nice place from where I was working in Ballerup at Park Skolen and Lisbet was still working at Colgate in Glostrup, while Jan and Jeanette were attending Bagsvaerd Kostskole as day students, a school they later graduated from.

After fifteen years of marriage we entered another era and a divorce was evident by October 15, 1979. I moved out of the house in Bagsværd and into a flat at Oesterbro and later to a small terrace house in Maaloev, but in spring 1993 I took a leave of absence from my position as teacher in Ballerup, as to enable me to take up a position in Somalia with UNHCR, a position sponsored by DANIDA, at the Institute of In-Service Teacher Training, IITT, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and I spend another two years working in East Africa.

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