Tanzania’s elections did not have a good press internationally. ‘Tanzania Polls in Chaos’ trumpeted the London TIMES (October 31). ‘An organised botch’, ‘a complete farce’ were amongst the words used by AFRICA ANALYSIS (November 3) which stated that the UN observers suffered from an impossible mandate. They had been told by the UN in New York that ‘no statements should be made by any staff in the name of the United Nations’.

The German newspaper ZEIT (November 3) described the Zanzibar election as a bizarre prelude to the mainland elections …. Mrema did not have a chance against criminal manipulations …’ Africa had looked with high expectations towards Tanzania …. everyone hoped for a victory for democracy (but) those in power knew how to prevent this. Once again’. Under the heading ‘Chaos Spreads in Tanzania’s First Election’ the FINANCIAL TIMES (October 31) wrote ‘Tanzania’s first attempt at multi-party democracy teetered on the verge of collapse yesterday undermined by administrative incompetence and the logistics of organising a poll in East Africa’s largest country ….. the latest confusion has added to a growing mood of cynicism in Dar es Salaam’. The DAILY TELEGRAPH headline read ‘Tanzania Poll Ends in Chaos Amid Rigging Claims’.

The WASHINGTON POST (November 4) wrote that ‘Disorganisation and confusion appeared to taint Sunday’s election early on as polling stations around the country opened several hours late. Professor Ibrahim Lipumba was quoted as saying that the elections were a a national shame. WEST AFRICA (November 3-19) under the heading ‘Democratic Stalemate’ quoted observers as wondering whether Tanzania would go the same way as other states in Africa and be a case of endless political instability.

In a more detailed analysis The FINANCIAL TIMES quoted Professor Mukandala, head of a local monitoring group as saying that “in a close contest the CCM will not relinquish power. … I don’t think there is anybody out there who believes these elections were free and fairw. The article went on ‘If CCM was ready to bend the rules, international observers … did little to thwart it. They prematurely ruled the Zanzibar stage free and fair and failed adequately to monitor the count….most observers overran their budget and had to leave, work unfinished. And as what many diplomats privately called a debacle emerged, the UN first kept silent and then issued a bland statement recommending the authorities to correct anomalies’.

On a related matter AFRICAN BUSINESS (October) pointed out an extraordinary irony of history. The veteran politician and writer Abdulrahman Babu was originally chosen by Augustine Mrema as his Vice-Presidential running mate in the recent elections but resigned when his candidature was questioned by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). His replacement was Sultan Ahmed Sultan whose grandfather, Sultan Ahmed al Mugheiry, was stabbed to death in the 1950’s for collaborating with the British colonial administration. His assassin, Mohammed Humud, was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released immediately after the Zanzibar revolution on January 12 1964. But later that year he was detained without trial and executed by the then Zanzibar President Karume. On April 7, 1972 Karume was assassinated by Lt. Humud Mohammed Humud, a son of Mohammed Humud. Although it was obviously a case of revenge, the authorities said that it was part of a plot, led by Babu, to oust Karume’s government. Babu was subsequently detained on the mainland in solitary confinement for six years and was also tried in Zanzibar, in absentia, for treason. It was this that led the NEC to say that he was not qualified to run for high office! (Thank you Oliver Stegen, Andrew Gaisford, Paul Marchant, Jim Read and others for the above items – Editor).

Anne Outwater defended the much-maligned Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) which is spreading alarmingly in Lake Victoria in an article in the EAST AFRICAN (November 13). ‘Who is cleaning the outflow from Lake cities such as Mwanza and Bukoba she asked. Who removed the stench after all those bodies floated down from the Kagera River last year after the Rwanda genocide? Water hyacinths are very good at sucking up nutrients from water. They are strongest when the water has been dirtied with organic waste. After the hyacinths have done their work water runs clear and clean. It would be difficult to find a cheaper way of cleaning up the sewage going into the Lake……

NEW AFRICAN (December) asked people around the world for their comments on the 0 J Simpson murder trial verdict. From Tanzania, Finnegan Sibeye was quoted as saying that it was a ‘white planned legal trap’. Faranji Dumila said that White Americans are resentful about the rise of blacks.. .it is all about economic disparities ….Gregory Macha said ‘There is a growing tendency to criminalise the blacks especially those who excel in arts, sports or music ….’

Tanzania’s former High Commissioner in India, Gertrude Mongella, who was the Secretary-General of the 12-day UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, has received praise for her efficient management of the conference in many organs of the press. The TIMES (September 5) quoted her as declaring, amidst wild applause and ululation that women were no longer “guests on this planet. This planet belongs to them too. A revolution has begun – there is no going back’.

Under this heading the November issue of MAF (MISSION AVIATION FELLOWSHIP NEWS) described how 735 kgs of bibles, enough to fill three Landrovers, were flown recently by the only aircraft available to take the load (after removal of seats) – their Cessna 402 from Dodoma to Tabora for refuelling and then to Mpanda. From there the bibles were taken to be distributed by bible society workers to Burundi and Rwanda refugees in camps in the area. The bibles are expected to make life more tolerable for many refugees who had fled and lost their bibles in the dash for freedom. (Thank you Christine Lawrence for these two items of news – Editor).

Describing Tanzania as a Garden of Eden Father Peter Smith in the August-September issue of WHITE FATHERS – WHITE SISTERS wrote about Julius Nyerere as follows: ‘For inspiration he drew on the fellowship of the Acts of the Apostles, the brotherhood of the Qur’anic umma as well as the kibbutz of Israel and the communes of China. He provided a vision for Tanzanians and Africans rooted in their culture (so that they could) hold their heads as high as anyone in the family of mankind’.

He recalled that The Holy Ghost fathers came to the coast in 1868 and the White Fathers came ten years later. 99% of the White Fathers have passed through the 130-year old Atinan House (named after a Malian Doctor-Catechist), one of the first six permanent buildings in Dar es Salaam and, in the beginning, the mainland ‘seraglio’ of the Sultan of Zanzibar. One of a number of tables accompanying the article gives the religious adherence of Tanzanians:
Catholics 3,959,000
Total Christians 7,943,000
Muslims 5,866,900
Other faiths 4,178,000

Michela Wrong writing in the FINANCIAL TIMES (October 20) said that after decades of grinding poverty, prosperity once again beckons for the legendary spice islands … that prospect, as much as the resentment generated by years of suppressed national identity, threatens to sabotage the 31-year Union. Undermining the debate is the islands’ extraordinary transformation since Tanzania turned its back on Julius Nyerere’s disastrous economic policies. … Encouraged by tax incentives, Italian, South African and other investors have poured into the tourism sector, which has now replaced the clove industry as the main source of foreign exchange. Decaying Arab palaces are being turned into five-star lodgings to steal trade from the dreary Soviet-style government hotels. Chic galleries selling designer wear now compete with T-shirt shops for backpackers. Tourist numbers, hardly 30,000 five years ago should touch 100,000 this year. In 1990 economic growth was minus 3%. now it is 4.5%…..

The corncrake, Britain’s only globally-endangered bird species, is being rescued by a Scottish bird preservation society. A spokesman for the society told the BBC’s RADIO 4 that the corncrake was once fairly common throughout Britain but in recent decades has existed only in declining numbers in Scotland. The bird migrates annually from Tanzania. The society is spending £300,000 annually to persuade Scottish farmers to adapt their methods of silage production so as to encourage the corncrake’s breeding habits (Thank you David Somers for this item – Editor)


“Something happened to me on Kilimanjaro. Something great, something sublime. Something different to anything I had experienced on other high mountains. I stopped 1,000m before the peak, 5,500m above sea level. Should I have tried to press on? The hardships can be overcome. But there are many: altitude sickness, fatigue, nausea, severe headache, diarrhoea, breathlessness, palpitations, vomiting, loss of appetite, severe cold, frostbite and even hallucinations …… (On the mountain) I was quite exhilarated; it seemed as though there were no problems for the old man.. .many others in the group had given up and descended.. .and then, near the top I began to feel uncomfortable; it was far too hot…and then it dawned on me what was wrong. I had too little water. The person who had kindly offered to carry the rest of my supply had gone far ahead. I dared not proceed. I was not going to be carried off the mountain. Never. But still I was overpowered. I experienced that wonderful rare feeling of joy.. “ -Schalk Theron writing in the JOHANNESBURG STAR INTERNATIONAL (August 24-30).


Tanzania is to limit the number of visitors to its national parks for the first time to reduce pressure on the animals and their ecosystems. According to the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (October 21) officials are worried that the country’s 12 parks and other conservation areas could become as crowded as those in Kenya.

So far three parks have declared new limits on the number of tourist beds and vehicles allowed. Serengeti will not exceed the 1,200 beds it has now and will allow in only two vehicles for each pride of lions in the park. The smaller Tarangire National Park has a maximum of 287 ‘fixed’’ beds and one vehicle per two kilometres of road. In the Ngorongoro Conservation area the limit has been set at five lodges offering 422 beds.

Prices are rising too. Foreigners are now charged £12.50 to enter any of the national parks and £12.50 per 24 hours thereafter. Vehicles are charged £6.25 a day. Campers pay £12- £25 a night and rooms in lodges cost £30-£90 (Thank you Donald Wright for this item – Editor).

‘We had met the beast before. An old bull elephant, the rims of his ears ragged and torn; his left tusk broken off. He trotted towards us, stopped and glared and then charged. It was a massive piece of body language. But, still some distance away, he came to a halt and trumpeted defiantly. He decided that he had made his point. So began an article by Sean Hignett in the WEEKEND TELEGRAPH (August 19) describing a visit to the Serengeti National Park.

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