TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

MAJOR MALARIA VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH

Several newspapers (The BANGKOK POST, WORLD BANK NEWS, THE LONDON TIMES, VACCINE and others) gave prominence recently to what might be a major breakthrough in the search for an effective vaccine against malaria. Developed in Colombia and tested in Phase 1 on 41,000 volunteers in Latin America, the SPf66 vaccine was then ‘much more seriously tested (in Phase 2)’ according to Head of Tropical Disease Research at WHO, Dr. Tore Godal, ‘in very intense transmission conditions in the Kilombero District of Tanzania’. Inhabitants there suffer about 100 times more mosquito bites than in Colombia; the average in Kilombero is 25 bites by infected mosquitoes per night. The success of the Tanzania tests has paved the way for the final phase of testing, with initial results expected in October this year. Further tests are being carried out in Gambia and Thailand with results due next year. Still more tests over the next two years could mean an effective vaccine in widespread use by 1988 the WHO spokesman said. It was anticipated that when fully developed the vaccine would cost less than five dollars per injection. If the new vaccine works it would be the first vaccine ever to work against a parasitic disease.

STRIFE ON THE FIFTH FLOOR

When the late President Habyarimana of Rwanda was shot down at Kigali airport on April 6th he was returning from a peace conference held in the Kilimanjaro Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The Rwandan delegation, hearing what had happened, did not feel inclined to return home. As the conflict in Rwanda worsened, so too did relations on the fifth floor of the hotel, according to THE TIMES (July 12) as anti-government rebels and Hutu extremists were in adjacent rooms. Armed Rwandans began jostling each other in the lifts and goading each other in the restaurants. Former Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana complained to the Tanzanian Chief of Security that he was receiving death threats (from across the corridor) from former Presidential aide Desire Mageza. Mr Mageza said: “He’s mad. How do you say in English? He has la Megalomanie”. Finally Tanzanian security decided that the extremists should be removed from the hotel. “It’s incredible how much these people hate each other” a security officer said. Mr Mageza and five members of the Rwandan presidential guard were put on a bus to the airport. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Joseph Rwegasira later said that the Rwandans had left behind an unpaid hotel bill of £133,000.

WORLD BANK LAMENTS ITS ROLE IN TANZANIA

The FINANCIAL TIMES (July 27) reported that it had obtained a 2-volume 1990 confidential internal analysis of relations between the World Bank and Tanzania during the period 1961 to 1987. Tanzania had received $15 billion in aid (including £2 billion form the Bank). The report criticised the Bank’s ‘stance of uncritical support for Tanzania’s impractical socialist vision and egalitarian folly’. Until 1980 the Bank had viewed Tanzania as ‘coming close to being a model developing country. The belated recognition of the existence of a chronically ailing economy casts doubt on the transparency of the Bank’s decision-making process’.

IN THE ABSENCE OF GUINNESS

Kate Adam writing in the June 1994 NEWSLETTER OF THE TROPICAL AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATION explained the work she has been carrying out on Maesopsis eminii, an invasive tree species causing widespread degradation to the stability of the remaining primary forest of the East Usambara mountains. Initially introduced in good faith by the Forest Department in the early 1960’s as a fast growing, commercial exotic tree to regenerate heavily logged forest, it is now considered a major threat to the survival of endemic forest species. CDC has begun an eradication programme at the East Usambara Tea Company Ltd. The writer went on to describe how her year in Tanzania had taught her how to avoid rolling a battered Landrover in the monsoon rains, a hundred and one ways to cook with a mango, how to alleviate dysentery from a raw squid salad and how to survive in the complete absence of Guinness.

THE MOROGORO CONFERENCE

The curtain is gradually being lifted on the South African ANC’s activities during the long years of the anti-apartheid struggle in which Tanzania took such a prominent role. Stephen Ellis, writing in AFRICAN AFFAIRS (April) described many of the internal problems faced by the ANC from 1963 when growing numbers of South Africans joined the resistance forces in Tanzania. The ANC had four camps in the country which became bases for the ‘Umkhonto wa Sizwe’ guerrilla soldiers. In 1967 Umkhonto launched its first foreign military offensive in the Wankie district of Rhodesia. ‘Using inappropriate tactics and with poor logistic support the forces were badly mauled by Rhodesian troops. Some of the survivors, eventually making their way back to Tanzania, were highly critical of the ANC leadership – Chris Hani wrote an angry memorandum … and, according to one report, was sentenced to death for insubordination before being reprieved … the result was a major ANC consultative conference at Morogoro in 1969 which made sweeping changes in ANC leadership and set down a longterm strategy for the future…..’

BATTLE FOR PRESS FREEDOM

Any observer of the Tanzanian scene cannot but be impressed by the extent of press freedom in the country nowadays and by the proliferation of privately owned newspapers. But, according to NEW AFRICAN (June 1994) the media are still locked in a monumental battle to maintain this press freedom. The journal reported that the editor of the ‘Express’ had been taken to the Central Police Station in Dar es Salaam for ten hours in March and questioned about an article he had printed which blamed the government for failing to clean up the garbage of narcotics, refuse and harmful foods that were poisoning the country. The publisher of the ‘Citizen’ had been charged with sedition and the editor of ‘Tazama’ was said to have been charged with publishing seditious material. This get tough stance by the government was said to be retaliation against the press for forcing the government to abandon last year a proposed ‘Media Professions Regulation Bill’ it wished to introduce. The press had insisted that this Bill would have been unconstitutional.

‘HOW MARVELLOUS TO BE BACK!’

Extracts from an article headed ‘Tanzania Revisited’ by Sister Maria von Opdorp in WHITE FATHERS WHITE SISTERS (June- July 1994): How marvellous it was to be back in Mwanza after 23 years. The banana trees, the mango trees. Lake Victoria, the beautiful light and the brilliant colours of the earth and vegetation – all so much warmer than our Dutch colours. The first few nights I had to get used to all the noises. The dogs go on barking until late into the night. At dawn the whole regiment is awake again – birds, cocks, dogs, cows – the lot… I noticed many changes in Tanzania. The women are much more self-confident than they were. They are dressed African fashion in ‘khangas’ and ‘kitenges’ and no longer copy European fashions. I witnessed no aggressivity to Europeans, such as I had experienced previously. On the other hand, there is great poverty …. I saw a woman of eighty cutting rocks into small stones for 180 shillings a day. 180 shillings is 30 pence!…

ONE OF BRITAIN’S MOST RADICAL COMPANIES

This is how the GUARDIAN (August 16) described the Gateshead-based ‘Traidcraft’, the ‘fair trade company’, when writing about the company’s recent ‘social audit’ which has covered everything from recycling its apricot packaging to its corporate ethos. More than two thirds of the products sold by Traidcraft, which has annual sales of £6.3 million, employs 120 and has 4,000 shareholders, come from the developing world. Contributors include the 1,227-member Tabora Beekeepers Cooperative which receives from Traidcraft 32% more per 28kg bucket of honey than from its other export customer and 55% above the local market price.

EFFECTS OF THE DROUGHT

Tanzania suffered a 413,000 tonne deficit in production of food crops during the 1993/94 season according to the French publication MARCHES TROPICAUX (July 8). There had been falls of 21% in maize and 36% in wheat. The problem was caused by drought, crop disease and shortage of fertilisers. It was feared that the food deficit for 1994/95 would be far more dramatic and amount to 945,000 tonnes.

ORNITHOLOGICAL FRAUD?

Several issues of the DAILY TELEGRAPH in June reminded readers of the exploits of the adventurer, soldier, gamehunter, bird-watcher and spy Richard Meinertzhagen. On Christmas Day in 1915, as a British officer in Tanganyika, with 15 of his scouts, he had rushed a German camp, bayoneted all the African soldiers and shot the German commander in his tent as he was about to sit down to his Christmas dinner. Why waste a good meal?” he asked as he sat down to eat with a fellow British officer, undismayed by the body of the dead German on the bed. The latter’s papers revealed him to have been a Duke. “The first Duke I have killed” Meinertzhagen wrote subsequently.

But the object of the Telegraph articles was to reveal the ornithological exploits of Meinertzhagen. In later years he became one of Britain’s foremost field naturalists and was awarded the British Ornithologists’ Union’s most prestigious medals and a CBE. He donated his 20,000-bird collection to the Natural History Museum in London. It now appears however that he was probably a fraud. Some of his bird skins are alleged to have been stolen from the Leningrad, Paris, American and British museums over a number of years. A committee has been set up to scrutinise his work. His 66-year old son, who is an investment banker, has vowed to clear his father’s name.

‘THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PROJECT I HAVE EVER SEEN’

‘When I was working on agricultural research linkages in Tanzania in 1990 I came across in Arusha an NGO project – the Village Sunflower Project – that was the most successful I have ever seen in 29 years of working in developing countries’ wrote John Russell in the NEWSLETTER OF THE TROPICAL AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATION (June 1994). The project, under the umbrella of the Lutheran Diocese, had begun in 1986 when Appropriate Technology International helped to fund a small company to manufacture scissor-jack oilseed presses designed by the Institute of Production Innovation at the University of Dar es Salaam. The oilseed cake was used as animal fodder which increased local milk supplies; the most appropriate seed variety was selected; and, employment was created in the oil production units. By 1989 sixty units were functioning in 40 villages, and 100,000 litres of edible oil were being produced in a year. In 1993 there were 1,000 production units in 800 villages all over the country. Ten local manufacturers were now producing ram-pressses and these were being exported to other countries.

JOINING THE WORLD’S BIG LEAGUE OF GOLD PRODUCERS

This is the prospect for Tanzania according to AFRICA ANALYSIS (June 10) quoting Canadian mining company Baker Talc. High hopes are centred on Lupa District near Mbeya which is described as ‘possibly one of the most intensely mineralised gold provinces in the world’ and where the company is acquiring 50 million acres for gold and diamond exploration. The Soviet Group Technoexport explored there in the 1970’s and estimated total known resources of 1.4 million ounces of gold. Although Tanzania’s gold exports are currently worth about $50 million a year the country’s mineral opportunities were said to have lain largely dormant during the last 25 years because of the political climate.

STRIKING A BALANCE BETWEEN THEORY AND PRAGMATISM

A thoughtful article under this heading written by Susie Bowen, a speech therapist at the Muhimbili Medical Centre in Dar es Salaam, published in the May/June issue of HUMAN COMMUNICATION raised some fundamental issues on speech therapy in a developing country context. ‘By introducing our profession, are we contributing to the saturation of wellmeaning ‘white’ agencies in Tanzania that reinforce the pervasive notion that West is Best?’ she asked. She went on: ‘Nobody will say no to the educated European and often won’t even ask what speech therapy is before accepting it; …..we are asking people to believe in something that is not supported by the environment and in a service that will not be widely available (in Tanzania) for many years to comer…..’our individualistic society (in Britain) teaches us to claim our rights to expert advice and to demand a solution. The philosophy of life in Tanzania is very different; essential resources are perceived as being good primary health, family support and community networks; beyond these, most Tanzanians have not had the luxury of their needs being met. We must be careful not to impose our values and methods ….'(Thank you Roger Bowen for this item -Editor).

“WE CRY A LOT”

‘Sitting on the floor outside the smoky cookhouse at Igurubi near Tabora ten or so women are talking. Some are employed at the hospital, others are caring and cooking for their invalid relatives and one is a British volunteer. They are talking about children, according to the Spring issue of HABARI YA HPA (Health Projects Abroad). They look incredulous as the British volunteer explains she is 29, unmarried and has no children. She says that she might get married in two years’ time and would then want two children. But what if one of them dies? the Tanzanians ask. How do you begin to explain, the article goes on, that while the infant mortality rate in Tanzania in 1991 was 178 per 1,000 live births in the UK it was nine per 1,000. On one matter all are agreed. If a child dies, “we are very sad and cry a lot”. “Sana, sana” they say as they all shake their heads.

A UNIQUE RAILWAY LINE

Describing the recent train safari of tourists from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, the Dar es Salaam EXPRESS’S Apolinari Tairo (August 7) explained that the train was named the ‘Pride of Africa’ and had been used in Edwardian times and recently renovated. The owner of the train said that Southern Tanzania was one of the most interesting geological areas in the world – especially the rift valley near Mbeya. The train had passed through 23 man-made tunnels which made the TAZARA railway line unique in Africa. Some of the potential new tourist attractions in Tanzania were the cool and attractive shores of Lake Malawi, mountain scenery and the 25-ton Mbozi meteorite.

VENTURE CAPITAL

The June issue of the ECONOMIST contained an advertisement for ‘Tanzania Venture Capital Ltd.’ (Bulletin No 47). Equity capital is US$ 6.61 million provided by financial institutions in Britain, Germany, Sweden and Tanzania supported by USAID and the Commonwealth Development Agency (UK) (Thank you John Sankey for this item – Editor).

MEDICINE CHESTS

An interesting evaluation of the health component of the Hereford-Muheza link in the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL (16 April) indicated that there have been 64 sabbatical visits during the last eight years, half from Hereford to Muheza and half from Muheza to Hereford. Each traveller from Hereford takes and leaves behind a pack containing drugs, syringes and drip set. The contents of the packs were listed in the article: Chloroquine phosphate tabs; Proguinal tabs; Quinine sulphate; Fansidar; Erythromycin stearate tabs; Betadine ointment; Loperamide caps; Chlorpheniramine tabs; Hydrocortisone cream; Anthisan cream; and, Haemacel (Thank you Oliver Murphy for sending this item from Spain – Ed).

RE-STRUCTURING WILLIAMSONS DIAMOND MINES

AFRICA ANALYSIS (June 10) reported that South Africa’s De Beers company was negotiating with the Tanzanian government to ‘re-structure’ the Williamson Diamond Mine in Shinyanga where output had declined sharply to 25,000 carats a year.

DISEASE KILLS SERENGETI LIONS

A disease believed to be Canine Distemper Virus that gives lions convulsions has killed 85 of the 3,000 lions in the Serengeti according to AFRICAN ECONOMIC DIGEST (August 1). In one case an animal turned repeatedly in tight circles; many other lions suffered neurological damage; some lions showed a persistent twitch that contorts half the face in an involuntary sneer. The disease could threaten Tanzania’s tourism industry, now earning about $120 million annually … the disease comes after a devastating drought which had affected the number of visitors to the Serengeti: numbers had gone down by as much as 30%…

ONE OF THE GREAT GOLD MINES OF EAST AFRICA

The TIMES (August 10) reported that the mining group Cluff Resources would be taking a 90% stake and investing USS3.0 million in developing the Geita gold mine to make it into one of the great gold mines of East Africa. Between 1938 and its closure in 1966 it had produced 900,000 ounces of gold. Mr Cluff described the mine as a significant property and Cluff shares rose on the London Stock Exchange by 5.25% to 52.5%.

MISS BONGOIAND 1994*

Under this heading the Dar es Salaam DAILY NEWS has been describing Tanzania’s recently re-introduced Miss Tanzania competition held in Dar es Salaam. Such competitions had been banned since 1967. “Is it true” asked one person who missed the contest “that the girls had to put on Khanga’s to cover their swim suits”. “Yes”, was the answer “it was to avoid the girls exposing their thighs …. because some people think that that would be Western culture”. Then there was a dispute about the choice of winner. She was 20-year old Aina Maida, a student in Virginia USA, who had entered the competition after the closing date for applications. “If you look at the way she walks” one lady protested “you could tell that she is not from Tanzania”. Miss Maeda however will be representing Tanzania at the Miss World Competition in South Africa in November. She beat 26 other participants.

* It has become common practice amongst Tanzanians to call their country ‘Bonqoland’ which is derived from the Swahili word ‘bongo’ meaning brains. The reference is to the economic plight of the country and the need for everyone to use his/her brains to augment very low salaries through outside income-earning activities – Editor.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.