CIVIL ENGINEERS ARE NOT BORING
NEW CIVIL ENGINEER (May 13) reported on the meeting held at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London on May 4 when the authors of a new book on Livingstone (see the Reviews Section) described to a packed audience (all 250 seats sold) their trip by bicycle, largely in Tanzania, to retrace Livingstone’s last journey. One of the authors, Colum Wilson (the other is his wife) is an engineer employed by Gibb and he described how he had managed to keep within 15 miles of Livingstone’s own route by using data from a satellite global positioning system device which “was safer than the night skies and sextant used by Livingstone”. Wilson described how they took with them a machete, a walletful of dollars (but they were frequently desperately short of money) and bicycles with four paniers into one of which a tent was stuffed. The authors were burnt, bitten and came home two stones lighter. The audience, through its loud applause, expressed its agreement with the Chairman of the evening event, Professor George Fleming, when he said “Don’t let anyone tell you that civil engineers are boring” (Thank you Dick Wailer for sending this item -Editor).
‘THE GOLDEN OLDIES’
The VSO publication ORBIT in its Third Quarter 1999 issue featured Shikamoo Jazz which it described as the ‘Golden Oldies’. The band comprises 10 Tanzanian musicians in their fifties and sixties who dance and sing everything from rumba, chacha, samba and twist to traditional Swahili music and Taarabu. Their most famous song, which was first performed at the launch of the ‘International Year of Older People’ is Wazee Tuwatunzee (Let us care for older people). The article concluded ‘It’s message is strong and simple and best encapsulates the band’s lasting legacy’ .
The TIMES OF SWAZILAND in a full page article by Dr Joshua Mzizi praised what was described as the ‘stunning biography’ of the late Father Trevor Huddleston, former President of the Britain-Tanzania Society. The writer was particularly pleased by the decision of the publishers, Macmillans, to launch the book in Swaziland -even though they could not expect big sales there. ‘I think the publishers are asking Swazis to take a deep and long look at a Christian Minister who made a difference in his lifetime …… Father Huddleston was a man of prayer -someone who withdrew from the crowds, like any disciplined monk, to meditate and talk with God … ‘
ZANZIBAR AND THE ‘DARK AGES’ IN EUROPE
Fascinating excavations in Zanzibar by Bristol University archaeologist Mark Horton described in THE TIMES (June 8) reveal that the popularity of carved ivory might have triggered the Dark Ages in Europe. A plague which ushered in the Dark Ages and spread across the Mediterranean during the six years from AD 541 was said to have been traced to rats brought to Europe aboard ships carrying ivory for the Romans. Dr Horton’s excavations show that the Port of Unguja Ukuu dates back to the 6th Century AD. The dig has produced typical 6th Century Mediterranean pottery together with the bones of the black rat Rattus rattus which is not indigenous to Africa and must have arrived in ships. The local rodents had become immune to the plague but may have acted as a reservoir of infected fleas and passed them on to Europe-bound ships’ rats travelling with the ivory.
The DAILY TELEGRAPH reported on June 5 that Eton College had held a ‘charity mufti day’. The boys contributed £1 each (which went to the Mvumi Secondary School in Tanzania) and were then allowed to ditch for one day the formal tails they normally have to wear. One group dressed in drag and some wore just jock straps or bin liners. Prince William was wearing face paint and a sort of Lawrence of Arabia outfit.
In a study of the plight of hunter gatherers around the world by James Woodburn in NATURAL RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES (June 1999), a series published by the Overseas Development Institute, the problems of the Hazda people of Northern Tanzania were discussed. Their language was not related to any other in the world and they had resisted settlement over many years. During the colonial period there had been two attempts to settle them, both of which ended with measles epidemics and high mortality. Further efforts at sedentarising them involving armed police in 1964 and 1980 had caused embarrassment to the government. Meanwhile, land encroachment on their traditional hunting grounds had proceeded apace and wildlife resources had been depleted by urban hunters. There had been NGO efforts to help the Hazda with schools and clinics but these had been diverted to the dominant political groups in the area, the Iraq and Datooga.
AIR FRANCE’S MAGAZINE recounted in May the fascinating story of Tanzanian photographer John Kiyaya of Kasanga village in Sumbawanga. Weaved into the story was the fact that Kasanga was once called Bismarckburg; it had a fortress with crenellated walls, and a ‘strangely medieval appearance’; it is not far from where the ‘Liemba’ (which has a long story of its own) docks in Lake Tanganyika. The article went on to describe how the German army stopped in Kasanga in 1918 just before it surrendered, how the local fishing industry has declined and how Kasanga is also known as the local hub of witchcraft. As for John Kiyaya, it appears that he was returning home through a rice padi one day when he was attacked by surprise by a ‘devil of a hippopotamus’ -something he cannot forget. John had originally intended to become a priest but he met a French journalist on the Liemba who, after a long correspondence, sent him a camera. He began to take colour pictures of everything -his professors and fellow students, lovers, families, sewing machines, marriages, circumcisions, . … In 1992 ‘Arret sur Image’, a French photographic association, organised an exhibition of his photographs. He met famous photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, and was amazed to find how photography was treated with such respect in France (Thank you Roy Wilson for sending this item -Editor).
HIGH COMMISSION NEWSLETTER
The first edition of TANZANEWS, a beautifully produced and illustrated 12-page newsletter published by Dr Abdul Shareef, Tanzanian High Commissioner in London, emphasised investment and trade opportunities in the country. It quoted from a recent speech by President Mkapa: “Two days ago I was reading ‘Business Africa’, a respected publication of the Economist Intelligence Unit, which stated that after three years of free market reforms economic growth was finally beginning to have real impact, inspiring growing interest among foreign investors …… ‘. Another article described the activities of the Tanzania-UK Business Group which was established in London in 1993.
“WHEN WE GREW UP HERE IN THIS LAND THE ANIMALS WERE AS NUMEROUS AS THESE TREES”
So said a Maasai elder quoted in a recent issue of SURVIVAL NEWSLETTER. The article said that, when the Maasai were moved from what is now the Serengeti National Park in 1958, they were promised compensation and the right to live in perpetuity in what then became the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. But this promise had been broken. A study by a human rights lawyer found that the Conservation Area Authority was acting far beyond its mandate and should be reformed. Survival had translated the study into Swahili for the benefit of the Maasai and it might help to prepare a law for presentation to the Tanzanian parliament so that the Maasai can regain control over their own land and lives (Thank you Wendy Ellis for sending this item Editor).
The South African SUNDAY INDEPENDENT reported recently that journalists in Tanzania had been calling on the government to introduce a Freedom of Information Act which would compel it to release information of interest to the public. They were critical of government for banning three newspapers for publishing articles and cartoons judged ‘immoral’. Gervas Moshiro the Head of the National School of Journalism was quoted as deploring the lack of guarantees of press freedom. (Thank you David Leishman for sending this item -Editor).
‘TANZANIA: STILL OPTIMISTIC AFTER ALL THESE YEARS?’
This is the title of a lengthy article in THE LANCET (Vol 353, May 1999) by Professor John Yudkin of University College London about his fourth visit to Tanzania -he has made one visit in each of the past four decades. It is a sad story of decline in the provision of medical services contrasting with the continued sense of optimism of the people involved in such provision. ‘The problems my Tanzanian colleagues faced were far beyond anything I could have coped with’ he wrote. ‘But the people got on with it and believed that things were going to improve’. He went into some detail on the situation in Pemba -which had suffered economically far more than the mainland during the last 20 years. The island had just two doctors for 400,000 people; of the 51 primary health care units (PHCU’s) none had a medical assistant; the nine assistants were serving doctor-type functions in the three hospitals and over half had been lost to the private sector in the past four years. The US$ 0.50 per person of pharmaceutical supplies supplied each year was insufficient to provide more than 1,000 chloroquine tablets, 1,000 paracetamol tablets and five vials of procaine penicillin. The author went on: ‘There seems to be something intrinsically wrong when powerful governments or international organisations can demand that health care spending is cut and debt repayment prioritised, especially when many of those governments have themselves benefited from international loans and debt rescheduling’. He recommended all caring health professionals to add their support to the Jubilee 2,000 debt campaign.
Melanie Clark Pullen, a star (Mary) in the BBC’s soap opera ‘EastEnders’ has been in Tanzania to publicise ‘Christian Aid Week’ according to CHRISTIAN AID NEWS (April-July). She wrote about the lack of respect given to street children who surround cars trying to sell nuts and bottled water. But, she went on: ‘one place they are respected is the Christian Aidbacked ‘Youth, Cultural and Information Centre’ in Dar es Salaam where they are made welcome and offered classes in reading, writing and the arts.
MISSION TODAY (Vol 8 No 1) reported on the problems faced by the St Charles Lwanga Seminary, Segerea which was opened in 1979 to cope with the overflow of vocations from the Kipalapala Seminary. Twenty-one diocesan Bishops now send their seminarians to Segerea (168 each year) but, although the seminary operates self-reliant projects with pigs, poultry, cattle and a garden, there are serious shorfalls in funding and a particular need for books and for a water pump –Thank you John Sankey for sending these items -Editor).
NEW MALARIA DRUG
The TIMES reported recently that the drug Malarone (a combination of atovaquone and progunil) which is used to treat attacks of malaria is now being considered as a preventative also. It was already licensed to do this in Denmark and might have a role akin to that of Larium which has been found to give severe side effects to one in 160 people who use it. British Airways in Regent Street, London is carrying out trials on Malarone and is offering would be travellers to Tanzania and other affected countries free material cover to those prepared to have a blood test before they leave and after they come back. In its major front page article on July 24 the OBSERVER featured what it described as the promising work in perfecting an antimalaria vaccine (with a chemical rather than a biological base) being carried out by Colombian Scientist Manuel Patarroyo which includes testing in Tanzania. Meanwhile scientists attending a workshop at Bagamoyo in June described chloroquine as ineffective (failure rate 42%) and said that even Fansidar was showing failure rates of between 10 and 34%.
DRAMATIC CHURCH SERVICE
They were at church while visiting friends working on regeneration projects for the Salvation Army at a village in Tanzania called Rungaboro when suddenly it started to rain. “At first, people were delighted because water is short but then it became so noisy that the service had to stop. A friend joked that the roof might fall in. Minutes later there was this terrible noise and the wall I was standing next to was caving in towards me. I just ducked and ran. The next thing I remember is crawling out and thinking -I am alive!” The scene was of total devastation. “I started digging out the many people buried in the rubble”. One child died and 20 were injured. This nightmare experience of Karen Price, a staff nurse at Hillingdon Hospital and a friend, was revealed in the UXBRIDGE GAZETTE on June 30. When she came back Karen determined to raise money to build a new church for the village. The first step was a sponsored walk. Other donations would be welcome -to Jo Francis at the Gazette (Thank you Liz Fennel! for sending this -Editor).