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On not being fined by the police

This week, we were stopped by police three times in two days, and we weren’t fined any of those times. Despite what I’ve written about negotiating the police in Tanzania, this is the far more common experience: friendly police who merely greet you, or look at your license / rego / fire extinguisher / first aid kit and then send you on your way.

The first time of three, we were pulled over in a roundabout (charmingly called a kipulefti in Swahili.) The policeman was also in the roundabout and as we entered, he signalled us and stopped us in the middle. Lucky it was not a heavy traffic day! He looked at Arthur’s license, told him he had ‘good names’, and sent us on our way.

The second time we were just on a normal road. There were two guys, who pulled us over and in the greeting told us how hot the sun was. We carry bottles of water in the car for just such a time as this because people often ask for ‘water’, by which they mean money. It cuts across their whole scheme if you give them actual water, and often they are quite happy to receive it! Two bottles of water later, we were on our way.

The third time, the policeman looked in at the drivers’ seat, then in the back at the sleeping children, and looked quite flustered. He told us, “Wazungu hawalipi” “White people don’t pay.” Here’s what went through my head:

  • Yikes! Pulled over again. Be friendly and calm.
  • Phew, we’re not going to be extorted.
  • Us being white people never stopped us having to pay before!
  • We still haven’t done anything to pay for!
  • Neither would any Tanzanian who was pulled over, but they don’t have white skin to save them.

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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