THE FIRST OF THEIR KIND
AFRICAN BUSINESS featured a photograph in its October 1993 issue of one of two GT10 gas turbine engines being provided by SIDA and NORAD for delivery to the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company for its US$28 million power-plant project. The two turbines, each of 10 megawatts, will be the first of their kind to be installed outside Europe or the USA. They are to be sited at the Ubungo Power Station in Dar es Salaam and should be operational by February 1994.
GIVE DEMOCRACY A CHANCE
A Danish reader of NEW AFRICAN complained in its December issue about what he described as the superficial coverage being given to the introduction of democracy in Tanzania. ‘It takes time, peace and stability to build a proper multi-party environment … time to transform property ownership, trade regulations, the fora for open debate etc. Both the government and the opposition need to learn and adapt to the new rules of the game. A transitional period of four or five years is needed … What we are seeing in Tanzania is a collective learning process where new relations, ideas and policies will be formulated and put into practice. Some complain that the process is too slow, that the old guard (the CCM) is manoeuvring into positions in preparation for the elections. But how does anyone think a new political and democratic order can emerge if not based on tribe, religion or region. This is what the Tanzanian government is trying to avoid … this is not ‘sceptical’; I call it wise’.
THE WHISKY ROUTE
‘To avoid the crowds trudging up the tourist track and to bring an element of adventure into the ascent we settled for taking seven days and a route on the map that looked blissfully simple. After the Horombo hut we would contour around in a north westerly direction, then stroll up the Credner Glacier on to the northern icefields with a final traverse south to the actual summit’ So wrote Richard Else describing his struggle to climb Kilimanjaro in the GUARDIAN WEEKEND (September 25). The guide, a former Park Ranger summed up the trip – “others do the Coke trail; you are doing the Whisky route!”
The fossil footprint trail that Mary Leakey and a group of archaeologists uncovered at Laetoli in Northern Tanzania in 1978-79 had been made by three individuals who walked across a patch of wet volcanic ash over 3.6 million years ago. “Those footprints are more precious than the pyramids” according to California University Professor Clark Howell quoted in THE GUARDIAN (December 2). But, between 30 and 50 per cent of the trail has been destroyed by neglect since it was discovered – just 14 years ago. “It is a tragedy” he said. The lengthy article went on to list a series of misunderstandings, personality clashes, budgetary and other problems which have brought this situation about. (Thank you Elsbeth Court for this contribution – Ed)
A GIANT MISTAKE
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) was quoted in AFRICA EVENTS (October) as stating that the massive CIDA-assisted Tanzanian Wheat Project started two decades ago on Tanzania’s northern Savannah was a giant mistake. The much criticised project, which, nevertheless resulted in massive production of wheat, was said to have failed because CIDA tried to develop high-tech. farms on areas unsuited for such advanced agricultural practices. After spending $200 million Canada is now calling it a day. It is leaving behind huge social problems – a complicated land-tenure system and cases of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of Barabaig women and the burning down of Barabaig houses by staff of the National Agricultural and Food corporation (NAFCO). The article quotes reliable sources as stating that the wheat farms are to be recast for privatisation.
THE LIVINGSTONE TREK
One of the most surprising findings of the marathon three-month trek retracing David Livingstone’s last journey in Africa 120 years ago, which has just been completed (Bulletin No 46) was the potency of the Livingstone name reported THE TIMES on December 6th. Dr. David Livingstone Wilson, great grandson of the Scottish missionary was mobbed everywhere he went in Tanzania. “People rushed to shake his hand. Even the memorials were found to be still intact” the team leader said.
The Italian monthly NIGRIZIA reported in its October issue that the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam was intending to inaugurate a new Radio station in November 1993 to be known as ‘Radio Tumaini’. Members of the diocese were requested to help with the operating costs of the station.
NO FEAR OF BECOMING AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
Although the traditional ‘dhobie’ (washer-man) is seeing his market gradually disappear with the spread of modern electric washing machines, in the narrow streets of Zanzibar, according to AFRICA EVENTS ( September) they have little to fear. “Electricity goes off every other hour” says one “so my charcoal battleship (iron) still comes in handy”. Until they invent a dhobie that can do the ironing as well as the washing their job looks secure.
WALKING ON WATER
The BANGKOK POST (October 28, 1993) published a story from Dar es Salaam which stated that nine Tanzanian pupils and a Seventh Day Adventist priest who had tried to walk on water, like Jesus Christ, had drowned in Lake Victoria. They were said to have been travelling in a flotilla of canoes headed for a religious festival when they decided to make the watery walk as a test of faith.
THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO ARE MELTING
Only five per cent of Mount Kilimanjaro’s permanent ice cap is now left according to an article in the SUNDAY TIMES (October 10) and scientists now fear that changes in climate, triggered by pollution or by clouds of dust thrown up by cattle and the burning of forests, are removing the glaciers that have awed visitors for centuries. If Kilimanjaro’s snow and ice continue to melt at the current rate the ice will disappear within forty years, according to John Temple, a mountaineer. “Since 1972 I have seen entire glaciers disappear” he said.
Reviewing the book Swahili Origins by James de Vere Allen, the FINANCIAL TIMES (August 21) stated that there is a long-running argument about the Swahilis. ‘There have never been more than half a million of them but they had – have – a remarkably sophisticated culture (magnificent architecture, a beautiful and poetic language, complex folk traditions). So who are they? The argument lies in the mix, the tension between their African and Arabian roots …. Allen believed that the Swahilis can be traced back, well before the Battle of Hastings, to the imperial town of Shungwayo – one of the great enigmas of East African historiography. The snag is that Shungwayo has never been found. Until the archaeologists dig it up it will remain merely a legend and the critics will continue to scoff.
Allen believed in an African essence to the Swahili identity but this is disputed by other academics. ‘The book contains all sorts of incidental details. We shall not easily forget, for example, the Shungwayo ruler who fell from grace not because he deflowered the Coast virgins (which was his imperial right) but because he did so with his big toe ….. ‘
THE LOST TRIBE
Under this heading AFRICA EVENTS (July) presented the extraordinary story of a group of mainly Makua people being held in Zanzibar in 1873, waiting to be shipped off to slavery, who were rescued by the anti-slavery ship HMS Britain and taken as indentured labourers to Durban in South Africa. They were later joined by some 500 Zanzibaris. After the period of indenture in 1899 they bought, under a ‘Mohammedan Trust’, some 43 acres of land and became self-sufficient. They built their own mosque and prayed together. The coming of apartheid created problems of classification. First they were classified as Africans, then as Coloureds, then as Indians and finally as ‘other Asians’. They became known as the ‘Lost Tribe’ and now number some 10,000. They have lost control of their land, have become widely dispersed and the article expresses the fear that ‘this rich cultural heritage which has survived more than a century may die out altogether’.
SOUTH AFRICA GETS A TASTE FOR TANZANIAN BEER
It was under this heading that AFRICA ANALYSIS (November 26) reported the purchase by South African Breweries of a 50% stake in the state-owned Tanzanian Breweries which is being privatised. The US$28 million purchase was said to be only the latest in a stream of investments by South African in blackruled countries. The cash will help pay for the construction of a new brewery in Mwanza and the upgrading of plants in Dar es Salaam and Arusha.
32-year old Tanzanian costume designer Kassim Mikki was quoted in an illustrated article in THE TIMES MAGAZINE (September 4, 1993) as planning to ‘paint the Paris catwalk every African tone under the sun, from saffron to boa blue when the sultry, spicy tones of Zanzibar come alive at his debut collections for spring-summer 1994’. Mikki is based in a studio in Dar es Salaam and considers that he has at least one advantage over other designers. He does not have to spend weeks agonising over which weight of silk organza to use. He has only one fabric – cotton. “We use a high quality raw material which we then dye and weave to get different textures”. His clothes ‘flatter and cocoon a woman’s body, just as effortlessly as Azzedine Alaia or Gianni Versace, but at a realistic price’.
‘There is not much left of Bagamoyo these days. It has become what it was in the beginning, a somnolent backwater lost on a low coast at the end of a bad road. Campaign charts of a lost battle, maps of mould and lichen grow large on the walls of imperial buildings in ruin. Wooden stick ribs protrude from the sides of crumbling mud huts. Green bush and tropical lethargy encroach everywhere. Even chickens peck languidly in Bagamoyo’. So began a gloomy account by The FINANCIAL TIMES’s Nicholas Woodsworth (September 1) of a journey to the ‘Heart of an Anguished Continent’. The train from Morogoro to Tabora was no better ‘carriages overcrowded, conductors bullying, toilets smelly, dining car less than epicurean … ‘ Tabora itself was ‘foundering’ – ‘mudbrown water and wriggling insect larvae dribbled out of the tap in the dilapidated Railway Hotel ….. ‘ (Thank you Barbara Halliburton for this item – Ed).
CHEAP FOOD AND DRINKS
As part of its regular series comparing Costs of Living around the world BUSINESS TRAVELLER (October 1993) reported that buying an alcoholic drink remains much cheaper in Tanzania than in most countries. Out of 36 countries listed, Tanzania, with an average cost per drink of US$2. 87 comes 28th. The price of the same drink in Japan would be US$16 and in Britain US$4.82. In another survey (November 1993) the journal noted that the cost of a business dinner at US$31.25 in Tanzania compares well with average prices of $69.98 in the UK and $142.22 in Russia.
THE ELEPHANT SHREW
The work of one of the 92 research teams sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society in 1992 – a team which went to the Ruvu South Forest Reserve – was mentioned in the GEOGRAPHICAL MAGAZINE (July 1993). It reported that the Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew (Rhyncochocyon petersi) had never been photographed before the Oxford University Njule expedition unearthed it from its den in the forest and that this was the first occasion in which one had been captured. The shrew is a diurnal, insectivorous creature which can grow to 50 centimetres in length and is concentrated in primary, undisturbed forest. ‘The data collected will be invaluable to the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania in furthering its efforts to protect the coastal forests from further destruction.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
In an article full of nostalgia about air travel in Africa in the ‘good, old days’, BUSINESS TRAVELLER (November 1993) recalled a Journey by flying boat in the 1930’s which included a collision with a fishing smack off Italy, descent into the swamps south of Khartoum followed by a a canoe trip to the Nile and a forced landing in Tanganyika where ‘a fleet of Model T’s ferried the passengers to the nearest airfield to continue their journey’. By 1937 British-built Empire flying boats, capable of 200 mph, had cut the flying time from London to Capetown to only four days and passengers were treated to an excursion via Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, Lourenco Marques and Durban. Nowadays it takes 11 hours 35 minutes.
NOT AS FORBIDDING AS INDIA’S BUREAUCRACY
TRADING POST (Issue No 11) has been reporting on the trading experience of Traidcraft Exchange’s Overseas Business Development Services (OBDS) which has developed strong linkages with the Tabora Beekeepers Cooperative, the instant coffee factory in Bukoba, and Handico, which markets traditional crafts such as Maasai bookends. ~anager Murdoch Gatward has said that Traidcraft is known 1n more senior levels of the state in Tanzania than anywhere else in the world ‘due to the relatively easy access to the senior civil service, in comparison with something as forbidding as India’s bureaucracy’. “We are looking towards a promising future in Tanzania” he said. (Thank you Christine Lawrence for this item – Ed).
This was the heading of a colourful page in a recent issue of THE YOUNG TELEGRAPH which mentioned the visit to Tanzania of the Duchess of Kent in her capacity as patron of UNICEF UK. Among UNICEF projects mentioned was the Kuleana (Swahili for helping each other) Street Kids’ Centre in Mwanza. Street kids can call into the centre at any time, take a shower, learn to read or just paint and make models from bits of garbage. Most importantly they can be safe, make friends and feel they are part of a family. (Thank you Paul Marchant for this item).
As part of its October 1993 cover story on the ‘Media in Africa’ AFRICA EVENTS’ Ahmed Rajab referred to various efforts made in Tanzania over the years to provide community radio. He mentioned a number of 1970’s campaigns such as Uchaguzi ni Wako (the Choice is Yours – on the general election), Wakati wa Furaha (Time for Rejoicing – about the tenth anniversary of independence) and the highly successful Mtu ni Afya (Man is Health education campaign of 1973). ‘However’, he wrote, ‘the Tanzanian experiment was hampered by the constraint of control. The initiative had always come from the top. This went in tandem with the reluctance of those who directed the initiatives to give freedom to the consumers of radio messages to be able to originate their own messages.’
NYERERE AND NKRUMAH
Analysing the issues facing the Pan-African movement prior to its recent 7th Conference in Uganda, AFRICA EVENTS compared the Nyerere and Nkrumah approaches to African unity. It stated that they were both right and they were both wrong. The more radical Nkrumah was right about the need for African unity but wrong in his proposal for an instant union government. Nyerere (‘perhaps the only living senior African leader who actively participated in the great and acrimonious debate between the two in Cairo in 1964’) and who believed in gradualism and regional cooperation, was correct in recognising the practical problematics of African unity but time was to prove him wrong in his conviction that nationalism could be relied on to build African unity. Nationalism and the residual pull of the metropolitan countries proved to be real obstacles.
THE F L K KARONGO
Reporting the recent death at 92 of the second Mrs (Frida) Leakey the GUARDIAN (October 14) reported that, while working with the famous Dr. Leakey at the Olduvai Gorge, she became an expert in the drawing of hand tools. Among her important finds was a fossil site in a side gully which was later named the FLK – Frida Leakey Karongo (meaning gully).
THE DOWNING STREET YEARS
Margaret Thatcher’s international best selling book THE DOWNING STREET YEARS includes at least two references to Tanzania. She first recalls how she had to rush back from her country residence at Chequers to deal with the crisis caused one Sunday in the early eighties when an aircraft was hijacked from Tanzania to Stanstead airport near London.
Lady Thatcher also mentions briefly a meeting with Mwalimu Nyerere at a summit gathering at Cancun in Mexico. “Julius Nyerere was, as ever, charmingly persuasive, but equally misguided and unrealistic about what was wrong with his own country and, by extension, much of black Africa. He told me how unfair the IMF conditions for extending credit to him were: they had told him to bring Tanzania’ s public finances into order, cut protection and devalue his currency. Perhaps at this time the IMF’s demands were somewhat too rigorous: but he did not see that changes in this direction were necessary at all and in his own country’s long-term interests. He also complained of the effect of droughts and the collapse of his country’s agriculture – none of which he seemed to connect with the pursuit of misguided socialist policies, including collectivizing the farms”.
WHY THE FOOTBALL VANISHED
It was a first division football match in Moshi between Pamba from Mwanza and Ushirika from Moshi. According to NEW AFRICAN (October) a few minutes before the final whistle, with Ushirika in the lead, Pamba’s star player, Alphonse Modest, kicked the ball out of the ground. And then the ball ‘went missing’. After 20 minutes of searching the referee blew his whistle and the match was over. But some time later a passerby found the deflated ball just where everybody had been looking for it. Even more mysterious was the fact that no-one in Moshi seemed to have a spare. ‘No satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming except the theory that juju once again played its part in African football. Ushirika players said that Pamba comes from a region famed for its juju – “old ladies have been killed simply because they have red eyes”. Ushirika, on the other hand, came from a region which had lost most of its traditional arts including juju’. What about the lack of a spare ball? “That is because at the time everyone was hypnotised to forget about the spare ball” one of the Ushirika players said.
This note was accompanied by a cartoon by a well-known Tanzanian cartoonist in which a group of players were shown saying “I’m telling you, one of these days they are going to make the referee disappear … “!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TANZANIA AND GOLDMAN SACHS?
The GUARDIAN asked this question on December 10th. The answer: ‘One is an African country that makes $2.2 billion a year and shares it among 25 million people. Goldman Sachs is an investment bank that makes $2.6 billion and shares most of it between 161 people ….. ‘