PACKED WITH INTEREST
The September-December issue of the glossy and colourful magazine TANZANIA WLLDLIFE is packed with articles of interest to Tanzanophiles. Subjects covered include ‘A Resource Taken for Granted’ (the coastal mangroves), ‘An NGO’s Crusade’ (fighting dynamite fishing and the destruction of coral reefs), ‘The Triple Disaster at Lake Victoria’ (an endemic species of fish is being wiped out; fish smoking is reducing the forest cover; a fast spreading weed is choking marine life); ‘The Art of Survival’ (the Defassa Waterbuck); ‘Why Does A Crocodile Lie With Its Mouth Open? (nobody seems sure but the best hypothesis is that mouth-gaping allows escape of body heat); ‘Star Gazing in Tanzania’ (the country’s first star gazing station is being established in the Selous Game Reserve); ‘From Wedding Present to Global Heritage Site’ (the story of how Kaiser Wilhelm I gave his wife the biggest wedding anniversary present in the annals of romance); ‘Zanzibar’s Wonder Crab’ (which actually climbs coconut trees!); and, an article on page 19 asks why a coastal bat flies low over the ocean with its abdomen in the water. Is it washing prior to evening prayers?
The equally colourful magazine of the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism, KARIBU ZANZlBAR (Third Quarter 1997) also has a variety of stories – ‘The Secret Ruins’, ‘The Cradle Of Standard Kiswahili’, ‘Organic Spice Tours’, ‘The Next Triathlon and Marathon’, ‘The Mwaka Kogwa Festival. Another article tells the story of Bushiri bin Maulid, a freed slave, who found himself in South Africa in the 1920’s and faced many problems in trying to obtain his Zanzibar nationality certificate.
MARRIAGE OF WOMAN TO WOMAN
The South African SUNDAY INDEPENDENT on November 9 described one of the customs of the Kuria people in North Mara – nyumba ntobu, (a house manned by a woman) under which women are allowed to marry women. This is not a homosexual relationship but is designed to continue the lineage of wealthy families in which there are no males. Normally an older woman marries another after paying a bride price. The woman so married is free to choose a man to procreate with, but the children will belong to the older woman. Health workers say that this tradition contributes to the spread of HIV because men do not like to use condoms. Nyumba ntobu wives have become major contributors to the spread of HIV. Why would a woman many another woman? Because of the liberty such marriages offer, the article says. Such women escape the sexual harassment they would typically endure from a husband.
MARRIAGE OF GIRLS
The recently publicised arranged marriage to an MP of a Form 1 schoolgirl studying at the Jamhuri Secondary School in Dar has infuriated human rights activists, wrote the South African INDEPENDENT on September 28. They were quoted as saying that, even though Islamic law allowed such marriages, the 1978 Education Act did not condone them. The article went on to note how the imposition of school fees was weighing heavily on girls. While there was still some parity in enrolment between girls and boys at primary school, girls represented only 40% at secondary schools, 25% at A level and only 5% at university level. (Thank you David Leishman for this and the other item above Editor).
‘Nobody ever seems to mention the Italians’ wrote Mark Ottaway in a travel feature on Zanzibar in the SUNDAY TIMES recently. Extracts: ‘The Italians are by far the majority of tourists. They send in two jets a week from Milan and have done so for years. Zanzibar might be our far horizon but it has become their backyard. One might wonder what kind of Italian is happy to invest considerable sums in such a precarious investment climate. But, for their customers at least, it is a case of easy come easy go dolce far niente. Because their tour operators haven’t liked to tell them that this is a strict Muslim society in which they are expected to cover up, the Italians waver between making themselves unpopular, or sticking to the beach, and that isn’t much of a contest. This leaves Zanzibar to the rest of us, with the Italians an interesting footnote to our perceptions of place, sunning themselves topless around the pool, or, if it is remote enough, on the beach.. . ..’
“YOU FEEL YOU’VE GOT AFRICA COMING UP THROUGH YOUR FEET”
So said Rita Hamilton quoted in an article in THE TIMES on November 22 when describing a 120-mile sponsored trek in temperatures of up to 120 degrees in Tanzania’s Great Rift Valley. Some £40,000 was raised for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which supports projects to help the Maasai each year. A donation was made to cover the cost of 800 cataract operations. “It was the hardest walk of my life and the most rewarding week I have ever spent” she said. (‘Thank you John Sankey-for this item – Editor.
The DAILY MAIL WEEKEND MAGAZINE (August 23) devoted four pages to the diary of Sarah Ashworth (25) and Roslyn Poole (24) who have spent two years at the ‘Animal Behaviour Research Unit’ studying yellow baboons and monitoring vegetation in the Mikumi National Park. Extracts: ‘We found our baboons, all 24 of them, peacefully s o h g up the sun. They are given Kiswahili names soon after they are born and it’s quite easy to recognise each one. Our study involves following an individual for 20 minutes at a time; we usually get through eight each day. We also have to collect their droppings which are sent to the U.S. to be analysed for stress hormones, looking for a link with the reproductive fitness of the females …. The only irritations are the incessant biting of the tsetse flies – when their proboscis sinks into your flesh it feels like a hypodermic needle.. . . . .I glanced down and noticed a squirming, red mass of pinhead-size ticks covering my body from navel down; I shrieked. We promptly stripped … I flicked open my Swiss army knife and decided the only way of removing them was to scrape the blade across my stomach.. . .that night, each place where a tick had been embedded in my skin swelled up and itched like crazy. When they had scabbed over I counted the scars – 530! …. There was nothing to eat for breakfast again so I decided to make some bread … I wanted it to be perfect.. . . And it was the most perfect bread I’d ever made. I decided to celebrate with a cup of tea on the roof. A baboon came up the ladder behind me – with a great big piece of my best bread in its mouth. More baboons were by the washing line, their cheeks full of delicious fresh bread! (Thank you Ian Enticott for this item – Editor).
PUBLICISING THE DEVIL
NEW AFRICAN (October) quoted Bishop Zakaria Kakobe of the Full Gospel Church as describing a new Tanzanian stamp as ‘publicising the devil.’ “All morally upright people must reject it”, he said. The stamp depicts a couple holding hands at sundown and advises them to use ‘Salama’ condoms. The Rev. Amos Selen of the Pentecostal Church said that letters bearing the stamp on the envelope should be torn to pieces and burnt without reading the contents. But Health Ministry Principal Secretary Ray Mope pointed out that the stamps warned people to protect themselves against AIDS; thousands had died from it. The postal corporation was reported to have had to bow to the storm and withdraw the stamps from circulation, though a huge stock remained unsold.
GREAT SUCCESS STORY
‘A large inflated beer bottle featuring the ‘Kilimanjaro’ brand’s giraffe logo enlivens the shabby industrial site outside Dar es salaam. At Oyster Bay billboards promote the launch of the new Ndovu (elephant) lager. And throughout the country Tanzanians sport ‘Safari Lager’ T-shirts.’ So began one of the articles in the London GUARDIAN’S supplement on Tanzania on December 9 Extracts: ‘The colourful promotion of Tanzania Breweries’ various brands highlights the turn-round of the company from a loss-making state corporation to a dynamic, privately-owned company that, in a few years, has won back 80% of the market. The sale of the Breweries to the giant South African Breweries is the great success story of the country’s privatisation drive.. . . . . (Thank you Joan Wicken for sending us this supplement – Editor)
ROCKING GREEN CREDENTIALS
‘Green Globe’, the environmental arm of the World Travel and Tourism Council – made up of the world’s top 200 tourism corporations – organised environmental ‘clinics’ at the World Travel Market in London recently to help tourism executives to ‘green up’ their act. But, according to THE INDEPENDENT (November 22) there’s obviously a long way to go. The news item referred to a proposed five-mile, $368 million development in Nungwi, northern Zanzibar, in which Forte Meridien (Forte was a founding member of ‘Green Globe’) was involved – a development likely to rock its green credentials, the paper said. Plans were afoot for a presidential-style hotel, an ocean marina, 200 condominiums, 300 luxury villas, a conference centre, a 27- hole golf course and a country club. Local people on the peninsula were quoted as saying that they had not been consulted and were expecting to be ousted from their homes (Thank you Stella Smethurst for this item – Editor).
AFRIKANERS AND DANES
The writer of one of the many letters from readers published in the December issue of NEW AFRICAN stated that he was against the idea of allowing white South African Afrikaners to purchase farms in Tanzania and that it would be unwise for President Mkapa to allow himself to be pressurised by President Mandela into accepting this idea. Another letter, from a certain Kambarage Nyerere, complained about the way Africans are treated in Denmark. ‘We Africans are treated only as drug dealers and social benefit leaches; we are not offered work and yet we are called lazy.. . .’ he wrote. ‘You may ask why I am saying all this and still living there. Not anymore. I an going back home!’
NO ACCIDENT OF GEOGRAPHY OR GEOLOGY
‘It is no accident of geography or geology that Tanzania has just opened its first and only Australian Consulate in Perth’ – so began an article in the WEST AUSTRALIAN (December 1). It went on to mention six Western Australian companies which now had a presence in Tanzania and how the recent slump in the gold price had not caused any drop-off in investor interest. The potential for discovering high quality deposits with low labour costs had probably made investment in gold in Tanzania relatively more attractive than before (Thank you Mr D Gledhill for sending this item – Editor).
WHERE HAS THE MAGIC GONE?
‘I stood on the banks of the Ngoitokitok Springs in the heart of the famed Ngorongoro Crater gnawing miserably on a cold greasy chicken thigh. It was high noon in one of our planet’s great wildlife areas and ringed around me, as far as my eyes could see, sat four-wheel drive vehicles of every make known to man; I counted 55 of them. Their passengers waddled around, eating the chicken and stale bread from box lunches and taking group photos. Circling yellow-billed lutes provided the thrills, dive bombing to snatch a chicken leg here and a bread roll there. Squeals of surprise. Squeals of delight. Squeals … …. Where … oh where has the magic gone?’ – a writer in the Johannesburg SATURDAY STAR (November 10) – Thank you David Leishmann for this item – Editor).
TELECOMMUNICATIONS – THE FUTURE
Tanzania currently has three telephones per 1,000 people according to Lisa Sykes writing in the VS0 publication ORBIT (Third Quarter 1997). She goes on to propose possible solutions for people in developing country rural areas where phones are very few and far between. Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite (GMPCS) systems have orbits much closer to earth than current telecoms stations and simple had-held phones will be able to receive from them. Solar-powered payphones linked to Immarsat, an existing network, are proving successful. Near the Ngorongoro Crater an Immarsat terminal is being installed which will allow fax, voice and data communications; part of the revenue earned will be fed back into local infrastructure.
And, according to MAF NEWS (November) a former systems analyst for the World Trade Centre in London, Simon James-Morse, has installed a new modem which connects the computer to a telephone line and smooths out the wrinkles in the telephone service caused by poor quality lines in Dodoma. The report was headed ‘Harnessing the benefits of computer technology to help advance God’s Kingdom (Thank you Christine Lawrence for these items – Editor).
CHARITY SHOULD ALWAYS BEGIN AT HOME
Extracts from a letter to the editor of the London Evening Standard (November 4): ‘Two articles in your newspaper provide an ironic contrast on how this country deals nowadays with people in need.. .one describes the plight of 80- year old Joshua Reynolds, discharged from hospital after a hip replacement and left without any help of any sort. .. ..the other writes about a family, political refugees from some unproven danger in Tanzania, who are given first-class treatment with a modern house on a private estate and additional benefit payments … ..yet if you suggest that men and women like Joshua Reynolds should be given priority over immigrants ….. one runs the danger of facing unwarranted accusations of racism by numerous well-organised lobbies.’