She not only had to overcome cultural barriers, but also state ones. At the time, those who wanted to go to university in Tanzania had to complete one year’s military service. And so, at the age of 20, Salome spent 360 days in a military camp on the border of Mozambique, armed and dressed in camouflage.
She completed her bachelor’s degree in zoology and marine biology at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1984, and managed to get a job at the National Fisheries Institute, where she worked on sustainability projects for fishing in the Indian Ocean. Four years later, she received a scholarship to study fish resources and fishery management at the University of Bergen in Norway.
After working for a couple more years in Tanzania, she received a scholarship to study for her doctorate in the UK, researching the taxonomy of haploid cichlids at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
By then a mother of three, she thus emigrated with her children to Europe. Since her husband wasn’t happy there, Salome was soon having to fend for herself—in a new country, a new culture, with three school-age children and a PhD to finish, which began to look very elusive as her supervisor in the UK died only a few months after Salome arrived in the country.
“I was very close to giving it all up and going back to Tanzania”, says Salome. But then, by a stroke of good fortune, she got to know Ole Seehausen, who took over as her supervisor and eventually brought her to Eawag.
For her family, this meant getting to know yet another country. “My children hated me when they realised that they were going to have to learn German”, says Salome, with a hearty laugh. Although her oldest daughter has now returned to Tanzania, she and her other two daughters feel very much at home after 15 years in Switzerland—and she has no desire to go back to Tanzania.