THE MOST IMPORTANT INDIGENOUS INITIATIVE SINCE INDEPENDENCE
This is how AFRICAN BUSINESS (March 1995) grandiosely described the setting up of the first truly indigenous bank in Tanzania. The promotion committee of the new bank – the Akiba (‘savings in Swahili) Commercial Bank – has announced that the mobilisation of share capital was proceeding well particularly in Mwanza and Arusha, with some Shs 200 million ($370,000) subscribed so far. Several donor agencies have said that they are willing to provide training, computer equipment and experts during the bank’s initial stages. But the article quotes some observers as questioning the launching of such a major project in the present tough economic climate. To be viable businesses needed to operate at an average 50% profit because of the high inflation rate. Most local banks had not started full-scale lending and were making their money mostly from commissions, opening of letters of credit, financing foreign trade and operating forex businesses.
THE ANSWER TO THE 20TH CENTURY’S BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM
‘Next time you are in a public institution or business in Tanzania take a look in the car park or around the back of the building’ advised ‘Green Bullet’ writing in the November 1994/January 1995 issue of the Dar es Salaam environmental magazine AGENDA. ‘You will probably see some of the dying or dead population of some 10,000 Landrovers. Usually, the impact of a head-on collision is evident, with a concertina-style bonnet … but the LRMT has now been in operation for over eight years and people still come in with broken down Landrovers, receive a quote for reconditioning, and if they then agree to have the work done, achieve what, two years ago (before the operation ran down it now employs only 25 workers) I hoped would be the answer to the 20th century’s biggest environmental problem a totally recycled motor vehicle’. The writer went on to outline the environmental spin-offs of the process – the idea that a car had to be replaced by a new one would be eroded and the monthly influx of reconditioned Far Eastern saloons that have no chance of survival could be reduced.
CHOCOLATE ELEPHANTS A BOOST FOR TANZANIA’S REAL-LIFE ATTRACTIONS
Under this masterpiece of the headline writer’s art BRITISH OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT (January) described a partnership between the Cote d’Or Chocolate Company (the ones with the elephant on the wrapper) and Britain’s ODA , to support the Ruaha National Park. Britain has allocated £1 million to the reserve, which is a home to leopards – rarely seen elsewhere – and more elephants than any other park in Tanzania. Numbers of elephants are now increasing and over 300 species of birds have been identified.
AND IN THE SELOUS NATIONAL PARK
‘I woke with a start to a tremendous crashing and ripping sound … Lifting the tent flap I could dimly make out a huge shape bearing down on me. The intruder edged nearer and stopped inches away from my face, breathing heavily. Immobilised, I waited for the beast to charge, trample all over me, or, at the very least, trip over a guy rope and bring the tent down. But the elephant was much more interested in the palm trees outside as he tried to pull down massive fronds laden with fruit …. Next morning it was explained to us that the new Mbuyuni site in the Selous Game Reserve had been pitched among the palms to get maximum shade. The manager explained – “Elephants have been coming here for years to feed. They are not going to be put off by a few tents” – Jill Sherman, The TIMES WEEKEND of January 25.
GAME HUNTING CONTINUES
About 200 Britons a year visit Africa to hunt game said the TIMES WEEKEND (January 21) and Tanzania is one of the hottest destinations because four of the big five animals can be hunted. But Tanzanian costs are the highest because of government levies. Prices range from around £700 to £1,300 per day. Some hunters spend £70,000 a head for a 28-day safari.
Issue No 9 of the publication MSITU (Press Cuttings on Environmental Issues In Tanzania, P 0 Box 840, Dodoma) featured on its front page attacks on the hunting policy of Minister for Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment Juma Omar. The MP for Monduli was quoted as saying that he had personally seen game that had been killed being loaded into two military aircraft from the United Arab Emirates and asked the Minister to explain what the 60-strong UAE party were doing in the country. MP for Mbulu Philip Marmo, who has since become Minister of Information and Broadcasting, wanted to know why too many hunting licenses were being issued. Parliament set up select Parliamentary Probe Committee.
Other press cuttings in this very informative publication featured the Mafia Marine Park, tree felling, charcoal burning, the Mkomazi Game Reserve, the Pangani Darn Project and the melting snow of Kilimanjaro.
A QUESTION OF NATIONALITY
Another angle to hunting was the report in the KENYA WEEKLY NEWS (December 23) which explained how so-called white hunters had allowed the killing of three of Kenya’s best known, almost 50-year-old bull elephants, which had crossed the border into Tanzania from the Amboseli National Park. There then followed a dispute as to the nationality of the elephants Tanzania insisting that they were not Kenyan. Dr. Cynthia Moss who has been studying pachyderms for many years was categorical that they were Kenyan and gave them names – M10, Sleepy and RBG.
The London TIMES took up the story and protests flowed in. The Times identified three alleged German, Zimbabwean and American hunters as being guilty. The head of Tanzania’s Wildlife Department Mr Mohidin Ndolanga subsequently reassured his Kenya opposite number that such hunting would be banned in future. (Thank you Christine Lawrence, Ian Leggett, John Sankeyand J de Graaf for the above wildlife items – Editor).
THE CHALLENGE TO TRADITIONAL LIFE
OVERSEAS, the journal of the Overseas League in London I featured Tanzania prominently in its March-May issue. writing on the challenge to traditional life I Danford Mpumwila, who grew up among the Benas in Southern Tanzania, described how confusion now reigned as new values and new social norms emerged among the tribe. ‘Traditional dances which used to be part and parcel of funerals f births, marriages and harvests have been repackaged and are now performed in modern halls for a fee; newspaper adverts for medicine men and healers are placed side by side with those for church services; entertainment halls alternate amplified western music with tribal dances; portable telephones are sold across the road from spears and shields; goats and cattle occupy the same streets as the latest Mercedes Benzes and BMW’s …
An article on the history of the TAZARA Railway by E J Kisanga reminded us how it was on a Sunday morning in March 1970 when the first 1,000 Chinese railway workers disembarked in Dar es Salaam, dressed identically in Mao suits and all carrying the same standard suitcases. ‘The workers left a lasting impression; in contrast to other expatriates they lived frugally and self-reliantly, planting vegetables and raising chickens and pigs for food and building their beds from the boxes which had contained the construction materials. At one time they even voted to reduce their salaries by one third to help the Tanzanian economy …. ‘
“WE ARE RELIANT ON THEM” – RWANDAN PRIME MINISTER
The problems of Rwanda (and hence, often the problems of Tanzania also) continue to receive considerable coverage in the media.
In an attack on French policy towards his country Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, quoted in THE TIMES (December 26) stated that Rwanda tended towards trade links with East African countries. “We are reliant on Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania … for these countries English is the most useful language”. The article added that many of the Ugandan Tutsis now coming home after 30 years of exile spoke only English and Swahili.
On December 26 THE GUARDIAN had reported that ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ had decided to pull out of refugee camps in Tanzania saying that it could no longer support mass murderers and those preparing to fight again.
As this issue of TA goes to press the DAILY TELEGRAPH (April 12) reported from Ngara that Tanzania was firmly resisting international pressure to accept yet another massive wave of some 50,000 refugees – Hutus from Burundi. ‘They are being greeted with unexpected violence from the neighbour they hoped would take them in’ wrote the paper. Tanzania shut its border with Burundi at the beginning of April, exasperated by the world’s assumption that – with 700,000 refugees already camped there it would continue to welcome the flow of victims. About 1,500 Burundian refugees who succeeded in crossing the border swamps and banana groves were confronted by Tanzanian troops at Mugoma. 300 were said to have been marched back into Burundi and the rest scattered into the bush.
Tanzanian Minister of State for Defence Col. Abdulrahman Kinana had been quoted earlier in the Uganda NEW VISION (April 5) as stating that Tanzania would stick to its rejection of an appeal for it to reopen the border. “We are not going to bow to pressure from anyone” he said. The world was not doing enough to force Rwanda to take back its refugees. As this issue of TA went to press it was reported that thousands of Burundi refugees stranded on the road to Ngara had agreed to return to their refugee camps in Burundi.
CHANGING THE COURSE OF COMMERCIAL AVIATION IN EAST AFRICA
The recent launching by Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa of the new joint airline ‘The Alliance’ has sent shock waves through Kenya Airways according to AFRICAN BUSINESS (March 1995). The move would force Kenya Airways to change both its operations and its policies in order to withstand the competition. Alliance is using the prestigious Boeing 747-SP initially on Johannesburg/London/Dubai/Bombay routes with stopovers in Dar es Salaam and Kampala. South African Airways holds 40% of the shares, Air Tanzania and Uganda Airlines 10% each and most of the remainder are to be subscribed by private investors in Uganda and Tanzania. The HQ is in Kampala. The airline also poses a threat to the Air Tanzania corporation (ATC) according to the article, something underlined by the reluctance of Tanzanian Government aviation officials to comment on the new project. Success would depend very much on the degree of trust between the new partners.
TANZANIA SIXTH LARGEST RECIPIENT
Statistics in the British ODA’s ANNUAL REVIEW FOR 1994 indicate that Tanzania received £23.57 million worth of aid in various forms from Britain in 1994 which made it the sixth largest recipient in sub-Saharan Africa after Uganda (£38.06 million), Zambia (£37.91 million), Mozambique (£29.93 million), Kenya (£28.82 million) and Zimbabwe (£24.56 Million)
‘IT WAS HIM – WORLD PICTURE EXCLUSIVE’
with this massive headline and a wedding photograph covering the entire front page, the NEWS OF THE WORLD (December 18 1994) announced that, after a search lasting several days, it had located the winner of £18 million in Britain’s National Lottery. The winner had tried hard to avoid publicity. He is 42-year-old Mukhtar Mohidin, a factory worker in the North of England, the son of Indian immigrants to Tanzania. He left the country for Britain in 1970 and he and his wife worked very hard for many years to save up to buy a run-down corner shop. ‘Now he can buy a supermarket’ the paper wrote ‘and pay flunkies to run it for him’. The same paper caught up with Mr Mohidin (who had gone into hiding) and filled most of its front page on April 16 with the news that he was going to be sued by his best friend who was claiming half the money; they had apparently agreed to split any winnings.
The SUNDAY TIMES (February 12) reported that Mr Mohidin’s family had been torn apart by bitter infighting.
VACCINATION A CAUSE OF LION DISEASE?
A disease outbreak has culled 250 lions in the South Eastern corner of the Serengeti National Park, about a third of the study population of the Serengeti Lion Project, according to a recent issue of the TROPICAL AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER. The study population is a 25% sample of the estimated 3,000 lions in the park the largest population of big cats in the world. Tests indicate that the lions are dying from canine distemper virus (CDV) or something like it. CDV has infected hyenas in the Serengeti since the 1960’s so why has it now become a problem for lions? One explanation is that, until recently I lions may have gained immunity to CDV by eating wildebeest or cattle which have rinderpest. The eradification of rinderpest amongst cattle through vaccination may have left the lions more vulnerable to CDV. But prospects are fairly good. The Serengeti population is probably large enough to recover even if the epidemic should spread from the south-east corner of the park.
BIGGEST TO DATE
The 1994 World Travel Market in London saw Tanzania’s largest attendance to date according to the January issue of AFRICAN BUSINESS. There were representatives from 15 Tanzanian companies. The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has stated that it is aiming for a high income, low volume tourist approach and is opposed to mass tourism development. More than 75% of Tanzania’s visitors come to see the wildlife. During 1994 there were 200,000 visitors to the country but its ‘carrying capacity’ has been estimated at half a million.
In a summary of very recent research by the World Bank on adjustment in Africa, FINDINGS (February 1995) states that Tanzania (with Mozambique) has moved up from the category ‘Very Poor Macroeconomic Policy Stance’ to ‘Poor Economic Policy Stance’. The paper states that in almost all African countries real exchange rates remain overvalued, fiscal deficits high and inflation still a problem. Only one country is classified as having an adequate macroeconomic policy stance – The Gambia.
“LET DEMOCRACY EVOLVE. DON’T IMPOSE IT”
In a recent issue of the American publication AFRICA REPORT there were interviews with Robert Mugabe, Sam Nujoma and Julius Nyerere. Nyerere was asked about democracy. He said “The North says we must have a multiplicity of political parties to be democratic ….. this is going to cause a lot of chaos on the African continent … let Africa be given time to develop its own systems of democracy. The people will want democracy. No people will accept oppression. The mechanisms of developing democracy will change as history changes, as the country, the standard of living, the level of education changes. Let democracy evolve. Don’t impose it”.
The GUARDIAN WEEKEND (February 11) revealed that Mr Peter Mandelson MP, former British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock’s media magician and presently a close collaborator of the new leader Tony Blair, (Mandelson is referred to in the article as a ‘Mephistopheles’, a ‘Rasputin’, a ‘Master of Mendacity’, a ‘brilliant strategist’, a ‘rigorous campaigner’) spent one of his younger years in Ngara – sponsored by Bishop Trevor Huddleston, whom he had badgered for help. He worked as a teacher, and, according to the paper, also as an anaesthetist ‘pumping an ether balloon with one hand, while thumbing through Love’s Book of Surgery with the other.