Hakuna matata – let’s learn from each other

When we arrive at the airport in Dar es Salaam, the humidity is high and the line for getting the temporary visa is long… After nearly 16 hours of travel, the only thing you wish for is to get to the hotel and take a shower. Not to stand in a crowd for another two hours, thinking ‘’if this would have been in Sweden – everything would have been so much more efficient and quicker’’. The Tanzanian authorities have at least created lots of jobs at the immigration department, with relaxed and smiling people using the mantra Hakuna matata – no problem, take it easy. Not so easy for this delegation from Karolinska Institutet on our way to meet new collaborators at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS).


Nearly 35 degrees and 75% humidity somehow forces us to slow down and the Tanzanian perspective on time management makes us all a little bit stressed, but after the first day’s meetings we realize there is no point of following the time schedule. In fact, setting up the wireless internet can be done 5 minutes before the course starts, meaning that the IT-guy came with the unpacked box, putting cords and things together while the course attendees dropped in to class one by one. The Wi-Fi worked extremely well and the session about clinical trials with Dr. Rosenberg on Skype was a virtual success! And why be so strict on the time schedule when interesting discussions appear? We can be flexible with the rest. We learned that the dialogue and discussion is at least as important as delivering the planned content within a certain time.

This two day course at MUHAS organized by the Career Service, Grants Office and Innovation Office was an eye opener for us as well as the course participants. We gave seminars and workshops on career development, grant writing proposals and innovative thinking and systems for about 40 students, researchers and administrators. The collaboration between KI and MUHAS has been ongoing since 2009 and is a capacity building project financed by SIDA. Through this program KI has educated many PhDs from MUHAS and the learning outcome is beneficial for both universities.

One of our workshops was about mapping your connections and pitching your research idea to get funding. One MD PhD pitched his idea, asking for grants to support the construction of an emergency unit- to save lives in his village. The message is clear; the created value is clear – very straight forward. Beside the research on HIV and Malaria, one of the next growing research area lies within traffic safety. There are no accurate figures on how many mortal traffic accidents there are in Tanzania, but we could read in one Tanzanian newspaper – over one million, and the most common cause of death! The research on mapping the dangerous roads and building grooves in the roads to limit speed and using seat belts will hopefully reduce the accidents in the long run. Our taxi trips gave us first-hand experience of the dangerous conditions on the road…

The 3 days at MUHAS went really fast and we experienced a lot, learning that a little bit of Hakuna matata would be good in Sweden. The Tanzanian students and researchers probably learnt that a little bit of time management is good – especially when it comes to applying for research funding. The deadline will not wait for you… Course evaluations showed that our contribution was much appreciated and maybe we will get the possibility to give more courses at MUHAS in the future. But for now, we are back in business as usual, running to meetings, day care pick-ups and the normality of chasing time.


KI delegation at MUHAS 13th to 15th of February 2017

Kerstin Beckenius and Anethe Mansén, Career Service

Laura Plant and Ying Zhao, Grants Office

Johan Arnell, Innovation Office

2 thoughts on “Hakuna matata – let’s learn from each other

  1. Your visit, and the knowledge your brought with you, was very much appreciated by all that attended. There are various grant proposals in development that will be better as a result of your visit, and hopefully successful.
    Karibu Tena

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