THE MERCHANT OF HOPE
In its 14 page, illustrated main cover story Africa Events (June/July 1988 issue) referred to President Mwinyi’s “cuddly, man-next- door persona, full of caring, tact, humility and, above all, like the merchant of hope, an almost oleaginous knack of making one see only the positive”.
In an interview the President was reminded that it was almost three years since he had assumed the presidency. Apart from reviving the economy, what other tasks had been occupying his mind. President Mwinyi replied: “When I was elected President I was handed a peaceful and united country. So, besides making sure that Tanzanians do not go hungry, my other preoccupation is to consolidate our unity. I found the country in a peaceful and secure state and I wish it to continue to be so – if not more – when my term expires”.
The next question concerned Zanzibaris who are apparently not in favour of the Union (with the mainland), President Mwinyi replied that the islanders are very much in favour of the Union. “It is possible that there are a few people who are opposed to it; and it’s not that they do not love the country but it is because they love themselves more …. after the revolution, very many young people, especially from Pemba, migrated to Dar es Salaam where they ventured into business and were very successful …. So some of these young Pembans nowadays have fleets of taxis, some own beautiful houses in Dar es Salaam. For example, the majority of houses situated at Sharifu Shamba are owned by Zanzibaris, especially from Pemba. They are not interfered with, they are not harassed and they are doing very well. These opportunities were not there before the revolution .. so is it true that these very people could be against the Union? … However, it is possible that there are a handful of people… who are against it. But noise and disturbances are like salt – it doesn’t have to be much for one to get the feel or the taste of it.”
The next question concerned the grievance of some Zanzibaris that they were not consulted about the Union. It had been arranged between the late President Karume and the erstwhile President Nyerere. President Mwinyi explained the background. “Nyerere had always had this idea of having a federation between Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda and Zanzibar,… President Nyerere had gone to Nairobi to persuade the then President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, to accept the idea and to be the first head of the Federation. The idea was net dismissed out of hand but the leaders of Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya did not arrive at any conclusive agreement. So when Nyerere got back to Dar es Salaam, Karume visited him. Nyerere briefed Karume on what had happened at the Nairobi meeting and asked him to feel free, if he wished, to join in when he was ready. Karume jumped at the idea and said that he was ready to join there and then”. it is universally common for such infant ideas to be born by either a single person or a few persons … after the Union, in 1965, there was an election for the President of the Union … the Zanzibaris overwhelmingly voted yes except in one constituency in Pemba (Ziwani) where there were seven hundred no votes. We voted yes once more in 1970… and in 1980”.
The President was asked why he had said that those against the Union were following their own selfish interests. The President replied that amongst several underground publications being imported into Zanazibar from overseas at present was a red booklet from Denmark published by Tanzanians resident there. The words in the publications were the same ones being used by those few who are in Zanzibar. Even Their placards contain the same words…those who are against the Union are people like the ones who are in Denmark”.
President Mwinyi was asked finally what type of Tanzania would he like to see in years to come. He replied that he would like to see a Tanzania full of prosperity, “Because prosperity cures evils such as envy, jealousy, hatred, chaos and incitement, Prosperity brings contentment. And once one is contented, one is bound to be happy”
ENGLISH AND KISWAHILI IN EDUCATION
In a strongly worded letter to the Editor of Africa Events (June/July issue) F.E.M.K. Senkoro referred, under the heading ‘The Last of the Empire’ to what he described as a rather strange belief that the standard of education in Tanzania had fallen due the poor state of the English language in schools and colleges and to former President Nyerere’s reference to the importance of English as ‘the Kiswahili of the world’. “The British Government, through her unofficial representative’, the British Council, was, of course, very excited and overjoyed to see the old glory being rekindled. Since that time no stone has been left unturned. Scholarships have been given to young people in education to go to the former mother country to study further about the teaching of English language. Aid and grants to provide Tanzanian schools with teaching materials are coming forth like they never did before. What ecstasy it will be to see, once again, Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe, Allan Quartermaine and, of course, Shakespeare, among others, being forced down the throats of the Tanzanian kids in the holy mission of trying to salvage our education from the deep pits it has fallen into …….. the state of Kiswahili vis-a-vis ‘the other ethnolects and foreign languages…do indeed show that among the culprits, English language and its presence as a medium is disruptive and an impediment to the smooth development of education in the country …as the language of colonial heritage, attitudes have turned against English since it is seen as the language of ‘kasumba’ (the brainwashed mind). An inordinate use of it may be taken to identify a person as not having been born again in the spirit of the new man that Tanzania had intended to create with the Arusha Declaration ..
Dr. Senkoro was commenting on an earlier article in Africa Events by Dr. S. Yahya-Othman in which he had stressed that the present system of education in two languages in Tanzanian schools and, in particular, the sudden change from Swahili medium in primary education to English in secondary education was not proving successful. He stated that the performance of students in English had fallen appallingly; he quoted a study which had indicated that in 1986 50% of Form IV leavers had scored F in English. Students in secondary schools were not learning when the language of instruction was English. The continued use of English at the higher levels meant that students did not have the time to devote to the conscious use of new Kiswahili terms.
The argument Dr. Yahya-Othman said, was not that it is impossible to modernise with two international languages operating in the school – experience of Canada and Switzerland squash that argument; it is not that it is impossible to modernise using a foreign language as the medium of instruction – all former colonies are doing that; the argument is that it is extremely difficult to modernise with English as medium under the present socio-economic conditions in Tanzania. And the most crucial of these conditions is the continued equivocation relating to a switch in medium from English to Kiswahili.
A HUNTER’S PARADISE
Tanzania is still the best hunting country in the world according to the American publication ‘Hunting Report’. Tanzania still has greater game populations and huge concessions that are the wildest, most satisfying to hunt in all of Africa. Safari companies in Tanzania offer the best run and most luxurious hunting experiences available today according to the magazine.
BRITISH VISIT FOR LEADER OF IMF REFORM MODEL
The Daily Telegraph was the only British daily newspaper to notice President Mwinyi’s visit to Britain. It noted on June 6 1988 that “Since he took office, British aid to Tanzania has risen from almost nothing to around £30 million per year, making it one of the biggest recipients of aid in sub-Saharan Africa. The aid followed Mr. Mwinyi’s decision to adopt IMF proposals for recovery after years of socialist planning under Dr. Nyerere left the economy in shambles …. Britain sees Tanzania as a test case for economic reform linked to an IMF plan.”
DIPLOMATS OF ROCK
It was under this heading that the Independent (July 15th) reported on the meeting in June 1988 in Bristol of WOMAD, the World of Music and Dance. The article was accompanied by a large photograph illustrating the wide girth, enormous stomach, bejeweled body and dreadlocked hair style of a 41 year old Zairean singer/guitarist named Remmy Ongala. Mr. Ongala, who moved to Tanzania 10 years ago, was described as Tanzania’s biggest star. “But in Tanzania” the paper went on “rook stardom does not mean Ferrari’s, limitless cocaine and guitar-shaped swimming pools. Rather, Tanzanian musicians occupy a lowly position in society; groups are run by businessmen who own the instruments and pay their players a salary. Financial success (or just survival) is a matter of a nightly grind of live dance hall dates ….. The delicious, irresistibly danceable musical concoction, strongly based on the seventies period of Zairean rumba with a zest of rougher Tanzanian rhythm, has already had audiences from Cheltenham to Dundee jumping.”
Under the heading: Tanzania – Three Faces of Change’ World Bank News (June 23, 1988) interviewed a lady co-manager of an agricultural Extension programme in Morogoro, a university professor and a Maasai village chairman and asked them for their impressions of Tanzania’s Economic Reform Programme. All felt it had brought much benefit. The Professor said “Yes, prices seem high now; but I don’t agree that, in real terms, that they are higher than they were prior to the programme. People forget” he said “that a few years ago it could take you a week to find a bar of soap, a month to find a kilo of cooking oil, and, if you were lucky enough to find the goods, you had to pay exorbitant, black market prices.”