TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

AFRICAN DECISIONS, in its June-August issue, reported on the praise Tanzania had received from IMF officials for its steadfast implementation of macroeconomic policies and its progress in structural reform during the past three years, despite severe economic disruptions caused by adverse weather conditions. The key to the macroeconomic stabilisation effort had been a strong fiscal stance, a rigorous cash management system and the introduction of VAT supported by tight monetary policies.

The first anniversary issue of the lavishly illustrated publication THE SWAHILI COAST included articles in its fourth issue on the Mwaka Kogwa festival which ‘encompasses the many faces of Islam, Zoroatrianism and traditionalism’ in Zanzibar, a brief history of trading by dhow, what it described as the ‘hidden grace and lost splendour’ of Pangani, an article on the doors of Zanzibar plus a selection of Swahili seafood recipes.

Kate Kibuga explained in a succinct article in the COURIER (July¬≠August) the background to and reasons for the increase in violent attacks on women suspected of being witches, especially in northern regions of Tanzania. She traced the original ceremonial and advisory roles of older women and how these had changed under the influence of their struggle for day to day survival, the refusal of young people to listen to their advice, and the loss of traditional checks against witchcraft which used to be made by councils of elders. Many more widows now lived alone and could acquire an air of mystery in the village; they often had bloodshot eyes from cooking over smoking fires all their lives. But they were also being used as scapegoats by younger people for social upheaval, new diseases, freak weather conditions and huge increases in living costs (Thank you Debbie Simmons for sending us this article –Editor).

The DALLAS (TEXAS) MORNING NEWS also published an article on August 13 on the same subject entitled ‘Old Women victims of superstition’ in which it explained that the recent increase in attacks on old women suspected of witchcraft among the Sukuma people of Shinyanga was linked to the mining boom in the area (gold, diamonds and semi-precious stones). More than 90% of the people believed in witchcraft and, near the Mwadui diamond mine, people were digging up their own plots of land looking for diamonds and tended to put their faith in witchcraft. Some old women were being killed more for reasons of greed than superstition. Some were victims of attempts by their next-of¬≠kin to get them out of the way and inherit their property. University of Dar es Salaam Sociologist Simon Mesaki was quoted as saying that the relocation of peasants into ujamaa villages in the 1970’s had seriously disrupted traditional life and local chiefs who had dealt with community problems had been replaced by distant bureaucrats (Thank you Peter Park for this item. The Shinyanga Police Commander stated recently that 84 alleged sorcerers were murdered in 1997 -40% less than in the previous year and some 310 suspects had been charged with killings in 1997 and 1998 ~Editor).

The July 12-18 issue of the EAST AFRICAN asked what Tanzania’s musical identity was now in view of the domination of Congolese Lingala music and American Hip Hop and R&B in the country. It reported that, seeking to strike a balance, was a group of talented musicians called Tatunane which had brought about a unique fusion of traditional African rhythms with jazz, R&B and other dance beats. The leader of the group was quoted as saying that “What Tatumane had done was a sort of ‘back to my roots’ thing … we have blended different melodies from Tanzania’s 124 ethnic groups with modem instruments”. Although having an uphill battle to gain popularity amongst Tanzanians they have a strong following in Scandinavia, Western Europe, Japan and Canada and now have made 5 CD’s –Thank you Geoffrey Cotterell for sending this news ~ Editor}.

The South African BUSINESS DAY reported in September that a furore had blown up in Tanzania’s tourist industry because the Mount Kilimanjaro National Park authorities had increased the tariffs for climbers in December by 100%. Some 4,000 tourists were said to have booked to climb the mountain. Warden Michael Mombo said that raising the tariffs was a way to control the numbers and environmental damage (Thank you David Leishman for sending this item from Malawi ~ in fact, 1,154 people eventually climbed the mountain to celebrate the new millennium but two tourists died while trying to do so – Editor).

‘Unchanged for six centuries the dhow is one of the most successful and beautiful trading vessels ever created’ wrote Matt Bannerman in the November 21 issue of the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH. He had gone in search of the place where dhows are still being built and found it in the Chole (Mafia) shipyard. ‘In a patch of shade, a little way from the big but still skeletal jahazi under construction (each one takes about a year to build) two small boys work industrially … I watch as their dexterous fingers assemble the rigging on a perfect replica of the jahazi their fathers and grandfathers are building. The little boat is made from balsa planks and stitched together with coconut twine and is not a toy but a demonstration of their advancing skills. Some day, they explain, they hope to be allowed to join their elders in the construction crew …. ‘ (Thank you Donald Wright for sending this item-Editor).

‘Where are you most likely to meet the man or woman of your dreams’ asked the London OBSERVER in its October 10 issue. ‘Apparently it often turns out to be Mount Kilimanjaro.’ A travel agent was quoted as saying that “Travelling with a group of like-minded people builds tremendous camaraderie. At the very least you can expect to form some lasting friendships” (Thank you Jane Carroll for sending this …. Editor).

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