An aspergically specific interest of mine presented in the style of an approx seven-year-old’s show and tell

Aden Date
5 min readAug 19, 2016


Hello, thank you for listening to my presentation. I want to talk today about a hobby of mine. It isn’t a hobby you’ve heard of before probably. My hobby is desire trails or more pacifically the cataloguing of desire trails. This is my interest and I hope after listening to my presentation it is your interest too!

Now you might ask: What is a desire trail and that’s a good question. A desire trail is basically where there is no path but everybody wishes there was a path. Sometimes a desire trail happens because the people who were planning paths didn’t plan well so the paths don’t go the most efficient way. So people they make shortcuts.

If enough people take the shortcut, that destroys all the grass and vege-vegetation and that creates a patch of dirt and that’s called a desire trail. So think about it like first there are people’s wants then there is people walking then there is soil arosion and then that is a desire trail.

Desire trails are my favourite thing because they tell us lots about human behaver. They tell us what people want and where they like to go. Anyway I’ll show you some to demastrate. These are from my time at the Dutch or Danish I forget training school which is where I learned Kiswahili. I had a fun time there and it was very nice. On to the pictures.

This is a very typical desire trail. When the path planners were planning the path, wow they really didn’t think did they. Anybody going to the building on the left which is out of the picture sorry would have to go a long way around the skinny tree. Instead they just take a shortcut and since so many people took the shortcut there is now a desire trail.

This one is a maybe less obvious example and it’s not really a trail but you get the idea. The top path isn’t used much because it’s out of the way, so most people use the lower path and then just step up to the room. This has killed all the grass and aroded the soil. Also this is my friend Beyene’s house. He’s from Eritrea!

I like this one because it looks like it’s from a movie. The plank of wood means that the training centre is listening to people’s feet. I didn’t go to the gym much because the power kept going out and whenever it did I would be on the treadmill and I ran in to the treadmill and that hurt. Anyway.

Here’s another view from up at the gym. There’s a SECOND trail from the gym to the basketball courts!!! That tells us so much. People must be very fit if they play basketball and then go to the gym! Or maybe they do it the other way. Desire trails can’t tell us everything!

Here is a little desire trail that the “wafunyakazi” (workers) use to get their wheelbarrow. I think it’s here in the shade to keep the handles cool. That’s important because many people here are too poor for gloves. There’s so much you can learn from being on desire trails and observing your world.

Not all desire trails are around buildings and areas where people live. Some are in wilder, more outdoors places. In Tanzania many people they cannot afford cars and the main form of transport is by foot. This makes it so that Tanzania is basically a big, giant spider’s web of desire trails! THE GROUND ITSELF tells us a story about poverty and farming life!!! I’m sorry I get REALLY excited by desire trails. I went for a walk after class one day and saw Vervet Monkeys and Maribou Storks and ants. But my favourite things are desire trails because desire trails are full of stories!

I went outside the training centre and went for a long walk. I found one trail which went down real steep and I was worried i might get lost but I knew I just had to stay on the trail! I found a big clearing and I could hear all sorts of animals. I thought to myself who goes here? Why is this trail here? But I didn’t have to wonder too long because I followed the trail and found a river. Many people in Tanzania get water and wash their clothes in the river. Even more amazing was the stones, which had been laid there so that people can cross the river. Again: The desire trails tell a STORY about PEOPLE!!! Stories are everywhere - You just have to look!

My walk to a river

After that I went for another walk and I went VERY far. I found a trail through some crops. Here it’s ok to walk through crops because people are nice and judicially enshrined neoliberalism hasn’t privatised every cubic centimetre of corporeal existence. Anyway I followed the trail through the crops and through some growth I found a dense trail sorry through some dense growth I found a trail. I followed it for a long while then the trail just ENDED ABRUPLY in this sunny clearing. Who GOES here?? WHY? It’s a MYSTERY. But someone or even lots of people go this way. WHY???

Sometimes desire trails’ stories are like books where the ending doesn’t make sense!!!

My walk to a sunny clearing

Me I love being outside and it’s my favourite thing. I also like people and figuring out human behaver. Desire trails let me be outside doing nothing all by myself while learning about people! They’re amazing. Desire trails I mean. I sincerey hope they’re your interest too.

Thanks for listening to my presentation!!!



Aden Date

I work at the intersection of arts, media & social impact. Now blogging at Substack ||