OPPORTUNITY AFRICA (first quarter 2001) wrote that Tanzania had the potential to become one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. Since the mid-1990s, strong pursuit of economic reform had enhanced Dar es Salaam’s status in the international financial community. Much of the credit for competent financial governance and the liberalisation of key economic sectors went to the Bank of Tanzania which acted as an adviser to the Government. The bank was one of the few independent central banks in Africa. Its main goals were preserving currency stability and low inflation. It had pursued a tight monetary policy which had underpinned positive real interest rates and thus provided incentives for savings. Prudent policies had also contributed to subdued inflation – this year it was projected at below 6% compared to 37% in 1994.
‘UNTIL DEATH DO US PART’
Under this heading TIME MAGAZINE (February 12th) told the story of the white woman in Botswana (Mariette Bosch) who was recently hanged for murder. It went on to state that there was another blonde white woman sitting in a cell in Arusha prison who, if convicted, could also be hanged. Kerstin Cameron, a 40 year-old German national had been charged with the murder of her estranged husband Cliff. She was initially told that she had no legal case to answer. On July 4th, 1998 her husband left an Arusha hotel where he had been staying and in which he had been drinking heavily and went to visit her and the children at their home. A few hours later, he was dead in the bedroom, a bullet in his head. The Tanzanian police twice investigated and twice concluded that Cameron, a 42-year old bush pilot, had committed suicide. But later, pressure from his husband’s New Zealand relatives had dramatically altered things and she had been arrested in May last year. The inquiry was said to be now bogged down in the Tanzanian legal system as a result of undue pressure from New Zealand politicians plus bureaucratic inefficiency, post-colonial sensitivities and murky suspicions. German officials were demanding a quick and fair resolution of the case (Thank you to several readers who sent this item and a similar story in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (February 24) under the heading ‘White mischief on an African night’ – Editor)
MOBILE PHONE REVOLUTION
NEW AFRICAN (April 2001) devoted a page to what it described as Tanzania’s ‘mobile phone revolution’. This was said to be highly significant for a country where just five years ago a mobile phone was something that dreams were made of; now, Tanzania had as many mobile phone lines as fixed lines. Mobitel had 60% of the market and attributed its success to maximising consumer choice in the form of affordable handsets, extensive geographic coverage, pre-paid systems and flexible pricing structures.
The TROPICAL AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATION’S
NEWSLETTER in December contained an article by Antony Ellman on clove honey production in Pemba. He explained how he had been recruited to undertake, with staff of the Evergreen Trust (a small NGO established in Pemba in 1995), a survey of agricultural production and marketing opportunities suitable for small scale producers. Prime emphasis was to be placed on beekeeping. He went on to explain that clove honey was one of the few commodities produced on Pemba for which demand exceeded supply (it had a high reputation in the Gulf) and that steps to raise the quantity and quality of clove honey production could not only generate increased rural incomes with relatively little investment but also gave farmers an incentive to improve neglected clove plantations by adding value to the products. He described the various types of hive, colony management and honey and wax processing and marketing.
The GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT NEWSLETTER FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA (March) reported that Tanzania had lifted members’ spirits by increasing its legislated quota of women MP’s from 15 to 20 (in addition to those elected) with the result that the number of women in parliament had increased from 16% to 21%; the percentage of women in cabinet had increased from 13% to 15% (Thank you Joan Wicken for sending this item – Editor).
The EAST AFRICAN (12th February) devoted a page to the leading Tanzania Kiswahili scholar Professor Said Ahmed Mohammed from Bayreuth University in Germany. He was born in Zanzibar in 1947 and later studied and worked at the University of Dar es Salaam. He has authored or co-authored 16 titles in the linguistics and literature areas of Kiswahili. The article said that a critical look at his novels, plays and poems showed clearly that he was out to educate and expose the ills in society. He wondered why Kiswahili was not given the kind of status in East Africa that it had in the wider world. “Out there” he said, “Kiswahili is regarded highly; foreign students like studying it and speaking it grammatically”. In all foreign universities where he had taught he found Kiswahili extremely popular.
DECLINING SCHOOL ENROLLMENT
‘Tanzania is suffering a sharp decline in primary-school enrolment as a result of the ‘Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Relief Programme (HIPC) sponsored by the World Bank/IMF which compels poor parents to contribute to the cost of their children’s education’ according to NEW AFRICAN (February). The article went on to explain how Tanzania, having adopted the third stage of the HIPC programme, was granted ‘nominal’ relief from its stifling debts. Part of the deal was the introduction of cost sharing in primary schools which meant that poor parents had to pay part of their children’s education; this immediately triggered a decline in school attendance. Tanzania expects to enjoy debt relief of $100 million when it ‘fully’ qualifies this year by moving to the ‘completion’ stage of the programme. The journal quoted debt campaigners as saying that in a real terms the HIPC ‘completion stage’ or ‘full qualification’ only meant that qualifying countries would ‘cough more funds’ from their dried-up treasuries for debt service. Tanzania’s annual debt service would be $167.5 million between 2002 and 2009 and would rise to $258 million between 2010 and 2018. At the moment, Tanzania spent 26 per cent of its total export earnings on debt servicing.
‘ELUSIVE, MAGICAL PARADISE BUT NOT GAY’
‘Zanzibar. It really is a place, not a cafe, bar, club or any other of the many other businesses that have used its name. No marketing firm could come up with a better word to evoke an elusive magical paradise. What is it about the word? If you were to blend the decayed grandeur of Lisbon, the commerce and religion of Morocco and the exotic spiciness of southern India and set it all on an island with Bounty-advert beaches, you might just get Zanzibar. It’s a zany place’. So wrote Paul Miles in GAY NEWS (February) whose visit to Zanzibar was arranged by the travel firm ‘Simply Tanzania’. The writer went on to say that if his readers were looking for a ‘happening gay scene’ Zanzibar was not the place. Homosexuality, as in all of Tanzania, was technically illegal. No-one in Zanzibar seemed to be working on anything connected with gay rights. Although there was a dearth of people willing to identify themselves as gay, everyone he spoke to seemed to think that it was not an issue. There was even a well known gay-run hotel in Stonetown.
AFRICA TRAVEL (Spring 2001) devoted 46 pages of lavishly illustrated text to the national parks of Africa. The articles on Tanzania concentrated on walking around Loliondo with a Maasai guide (‘the kopjes – islands of tall granite rock and lush green foliage strung like an archipelago across the plains;) mountain cycling in the Tarangire National Park (‘the lodges are Tarzan and Jane style’) and diving in Mafia Island’s Marine Park (‘clouds of glassfish, groups of lionfish and violin sharks – we are illuminated within by what we see of Mafia’s beautiful, secret underworld’).
Another article in the same issue featured Fundu Lagoon on Pemba island. The article said that unlike its better-known neighbour, Pemba lacked the developed tourist infrastructure of Zanzibar which gave it a refreshing sense of naivety and a feeling of blissful isolation and tranquillity. The waters around Pemba were now regarded as one of the top diving locations in the world. Fundu Lagoon was the home of a fully qualified watersports centre. Prices were $275 per person per day which included snorkelling, discovery trips, mangrove canoe safaris, dhow sunset cruises and boat transfers.
ORGANIC COTTON WOOL
A brand new line in organic products, based on Tanzanian grown cotton and called ‘Simply Gentle Organic’ is being testmarketed through more than 1000 British Waitrose supermarkets by the manufacturer Macdonald and Taylor. Approximately 5% of the pack purchase price will be used to help Tanzanian farmers in development projects. The new organic range will include make-up removal pads, balls and loose packs. It is estimated that current cotton cultivation (nonorganic) results in 25% of worldwide insecticide use. Helped by environmental experts, organic cotton farmers in Tanzania attract beneficial insects to their cotton. The organic control methods include using trap plants (sunflower and pigeon pea), ox-driven weeding, crop rotation and the use of animal manure. Research has shown that organic cotton plots bordered by sunflowers have 10 times more beneficial ants which eat the eggs and larvae of the harmful cotton bollworm. (Thank you John Leonhardt for this item – Editor.)
COMING UP TOO FAST
“I am 23 ft under water and my heart is racing. I’m desperately trying to concentrate on my breathing, but everything feels unnatural. My mask has water in it and as I try to clear it, I keep moving my fins. Suddenly, I realise that I’ve reached the surface and start to panic. One of the things that I have learnt on this diving course is that coming up too fast could be fatal. I’m afraid that my lungs are expanding and that I am about to die in the middle of the Indian Ocean ….. Back in the boat I sit there shaking, wondering what on earth I’m doing here …. I decided to learn to dive when I became hooked on snorkelling a couple of years ago. It seemed like the logical next step. The words of the diving manuals should have rung warning bells. ‘If you live life on the edge or find pleasure in pure adrenaline, you should be a diver’. I’m no adrenaline junkie. Yet here I was at the diving school at Fundu Lagoon in Pemba. The Pemba Channel is reputed to be one of the best diving sites in the world and the resort was outstanding – pristine beaches dotted with mangroves and fabulous views of the blue, blue sea from every room – Clare Thomson writing in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH on January 7th. The same paper (March 10) reported even more glowingly about diving in MAFIA – ‘Two giant groupers, each at least 6 ft. long, pairs of huge spotted sweetlips, angelfish at least 3 ft. long and endless varieties of jumbo-sized butterfly fish, the largest black sting-ray I have ever encountered, a good 4ft.across … the diving site was Kinasi Pass (Thank you Donald Wright for this ~ Editor).
AN AFRICAN SUCCESS STORY
Under this heading the American CHRONICLE OF EDUCATION (6th April) published an article by Burton Bollag which included some very good news about the University of Dar es Salaam. Brief extracts: ‘The university’s air-conditioned internet cafe is usually packed with students checking their email, or searching the Web for scholarship information. Across the hilly, green campus, the law school is busy putting its course outlines and reading materials online. The university library is getting a new wing, and new buildings are going up to provide more classrooms and a faculty office. Dar is one of a handful of African universities winning praise — and increased financial support from the West — for their efforts to transform themselves ….. When four major foundations based in the United States announced a five-year, $100-million aid package for African higher education last year, they singled out three institutions (Mozambique, Makerere and Dar) whose own efforts made it likely that they would be able to benefit from assistance in strategic planning, curriculum development, and increasing financial autonomy. Dar es Salaam is also one of the first institutions receiving support through the program. The Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the four foundations, has awarded the university a three-year, $3.5-million grant for new technology, for library improvements, and to study the effectiveness of the reforms adopted there ….. Dar has scored a number of significant successes since embarking on its Institutional Transformation Program, in the early 1990’s. It has begun creating new degree programs in response to Tanzania’s rapidly changing needs — for example, in public health, computer hardware and software, and transportation engineering. It has become probably the best-wired sub-Saharan university outside South Africa, with most campus buildings connected to the Internet via high-speed, fiber-optic cables. The university has cut costs by sharply reducing its non-academic staff, farming out such services as operating cafeterias and cleaning dormitories to private companies. It has generated new sources of income by offering evening degree programs in business administration for fee-paying students (all students theoretically pay tuition, but for many undergraduates that remains theory, not practice) providing consulting and training to companies and government agencies, and selling computer services and software. And on a continent with a glaring gender imbalance in higher education, Dar has instituted an affirmative action policy that has increased the enrolment of female students from 16% of the student body seven years ago to 29% today …. Courses in “African Socialism” have been eliminated, and research on such topics has been discouraged ….. (Thank you Peg Snyder for sending this article – Editor)
OLIVE BABOONS AND BLACK RHINOS
BBC WILDLIFE (December) reported that wild-caught olive baboons awaiting export from Tanzania for use in international biomedical research were being kept in the ‘worst conditions ever seen’ according to an undercover investigation carried out by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV). Investigators had infiltrated two businesses in Arusha where baboons were often held for some weeks before being shipped to the USA. At one holding station, the Tanzanian Wildlife Corporation, they found an entire baboon family in one cage with the adult male desperately trying to protect his family despite the confines of his captivity. BUAV is calling on the Tanzanian authorities to place an embargo on the export of baboons.
In January the same magazine reported that the black rhino, once the most successful member of its family, was now listed as critically endangered; there were thought to be only 60 to 70 left in Tanzania compared with the estimated 10,000 30 years ago. 70% of those remaining were believed to live in the Selous Game Reserve; those which were left constituted about 6% of the world population. They had survived mainly due to their inaccessibility and remoteness. The article want went on to describe the work of the Selous Rhino Project. Tanzania’s Wildlife Division had assigned six scouts to the project in January 1996 but their task was difficult because, unlike their larger, less fierce ‘white’ rhino cousins, which were happy to eat grass in wide open spaces, black rhinos favoured very thick bush and could not be seen easily from the air. The Scouts had to walk until they found them and averaged 1000 kms for every rhino sighted. Protecting rhinos was reported to be an expensive business – some $32 per km with one ranger covering perhaps 150 kms. Future plans included the development of DNA fingerprinting from samples of dung. This non-invasive method used micro-satellite markers enabling the detection of genetic variability within the small, fragmented rhino groups. (Those wishing to support this project should contact ‘Save the Rhino International at 02073577474. (Thank you Christine Lawrence for sending these two items -Editor).
THE WORK OF SIXTY ARTISTS
THE EAST AFRICAN (15th January) featured the ‘Art in Tanzania 2000’ exhibition which was held in Dar es Salaam in December. It was described as more successful than the previous exhibitions with about half the displayed works being sold. It featured works by almost 60 artists living in Tanzania and comprised sculptures, paintings, cartoons and photographs. Prices ranged between $187 and $500. More than 1,000 art lovers attended the exhibition over the three weeks that it was on. Probably the most striking work was said to have come from Damian Msagula from Mtwara. His paintings were said to have a touch of Ethiopian art while retaining a strong individuality that set them apart from the swarm of tingatinga paintings on display. Msagula has had his work exhibited in Belgium, Finland, Ethiopia, South Africa and Germany.
GENETIC FINGERPRINTS OF ELEPHANTS
Tanzanian, Kenyan and US scientists have been collecting samples from across the African continent to establish whether there are sufficient variations in elephant DNA to identify a piece of ivory from a particular region. Mapping the genetic fingerprints of elephants (each elephant has a unique fingerprint) could provide conservation authorities with sufficient scientific evidence to secure court convictions against traffickers after seizure of illegal shipments of Ivory – The TIMES – February 24. (Thank you Simon Hardwick for sending this – Editor).