Flying with a refrigerator all the way from London


It was sometimes in the November of 1985 when I had an interesting sojourn to the mega capital of the United Kingdom, London.

I had travelled there to attend the famous British Tourism Mart, an international travel trade show at Earls Court exhibition center.

I was then an officer with the then Tanzania Tourist Corporation.

As part of my mission I also took time to pay a courtesy call to Mr Robert Gear who was then the British Airways Marketing Chief for sub – Saharan Africa.

It was a fortunate move, for I never knew that Mr Gear would come to play a handy and an important role to the success of my mission in London.

It is a long story. During those years, it should be recalled that Tanzania was going through harsh economic times.

There was serious acute shortage of commodities in shops in the whole country.

As a result there was rampant snuggling of items – electronic, clothing, shoes, and the like – from abroad to meet the market.

So my travelling to London was a God sent chance for me to do someone serious shopping for myself, relatives and friends.

Among other items I was requested to bring back was a refrigerator. Yes a whole refrigerator from London.

There were none in the local market.

And with the sizzling heat and high humidity in Dar es Salaam the gadget was an essential item.

I did what was needed and bought enough clothing, shoes for myself and for friends and relatives, as well as a mid – sized refrigerator.

The problem arose as to how I would travel back to Bongoland with my now very excessive baggage without paying through my nose.

And to make matters worse I was flying on a complimentary ticket, courtesy of the British Airways.

That was when Mr Gear came to my rescue and granted me with a complimentary excess baggage allowance for my trip back to Dar es Salaam.

As if fate was against me, the flight I would take had a VIP British royal member.

Princess Anne, who was visiting Tanzania. Security was therefore very tight because among others, the then Irish terrorists had hit UK with a spate of bombs.

No wonder I had a lengthy and thorough security check at the Heathrow Airport. Are there no fridges in Tanzania and who are you? The security personnel asked me.

On arrival at Dar es Salaam International Airport, and on account of the prevailing security concerns, my excess baggage was hurriedly whisked out of the airport.

And I freely collected it at the airport car park.

No wonder that evening I became a celebrity in my street as all neighbours brought in their waters to be chilled by my hot commodity, the refrigerator.

Naturally we all celebrated the new development with a few lagers. Indeed it was a successful mission!

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