Tanzania and its embattled former Minister of Trade and Industry Iddi Simba (see above) got a mention in both the FINANCIAL TIMES and the WALL STREET JOURNAL on November 15 when the newspapers reported extensively on the 142 -member World Trade Organisation’s ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar. ‘In Doha’ the FT wrote ‘the developing countries …. came of age. Led by Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, they proved adept at building coalitions, formulating goals and co-ordinating tactics. They won praise for their negotiating skills and for getting results’. The USA made many concessions on trade and on allowing poorer countries to manufacture their own drugs regardless of patent rights. The Wall Street Journal quoted Minister Simba as praising US delegate Mr Zoellick “He put this whole thing together” Simba said (Thank you Benu Schneider for sending us these two articles -Editor).

The media generally warmly welcomed the agreement between the main parties in Zanzibar but had some reservations as to whether it would be successfully implemented. AFRICA ANALYSIS (October 19) asked whether Seif Shariff had become Tanzania’s ‘man of the moment’ or ‘was he a sell-out’? Had he forged a new way ahead or backed into a dead end? The agreement fell far short of CUF’s main demands for the elections to be re-run and for President Karume to step down. But the release of imprisoned CUF leaders had placated restless CUF militants. Hamad’s detractors, who included Tanzania Labour Party leader Augustine Mrema, made much play of the fact that the deal had restored to Hamad certain benefits -a pension, a car, security detail, an office and house servants. On the other hand, Hamad’s supporters as well as foreign diplomats had hailed him as a ‘statesman’ for his flexibility in agreeing to the accord.

The daily life of small-scale Tanzanite miners at Mererani, near Arusha was graphically described in a recent article in the EAST AFRICAN by Kate Gehring. The area being mined is a 5-square-mile area of graphite rock. Extracts from the article: ‘Mererani is full of young men. Its muddy streets are lined with bars, shops and stores selling provisions. A series of painted rocks faces traffic along the twisting rocky approach road. The first one says in Swahili ‘God is Great’; the second, a kilometre later, this says that ‘God exists’. There is also a local version of Dante’s inscription on the gates of hell ­ “abandon hope, all ye who enter here”…. It’s bleak and menacing. The miners, in essence, are gamblers and their desperation is palpable. There are 310 small companies and two large holdings, Kilimanjaro Mines and AFGEM”. The article describes the marketing: The stones pass through several channels between Mererani and international dealers. Looking like a field of desert blooming poppies, red blanket clad Maasai traders set up small tables along the hillsides facing the claim covered hills. They act as middlemen between the miners and Asian dealers in Mererani and other towns…… In January 10 miners suffocated when the air from a compression hose was interrupted by groundwater……Fights are another serious threat. 33 people died in fights last year. The most dangerous brawls break out underground when one group’s dynamite blasts into another’s territory’.

The WALL STREET JOURNAL quoted on November 16 the legend that Maasai tribesmen discovered the Tanzanite gem when a bolt of lightening set fire to the plains and some crystals on the ground turned blue. In 1967 an Indian geologist identified the stone as a rare form of the mineral zoisite and determined that it turned a velvety blue when heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. New York’s Tiffany & Co. named it Tanzanite and it soon became a marketing phenomenon. Its popularity soared when film fans learned that the sapphire heart­shaped pendant Kate Winslet hurled into the sea in the film ‘Titanic’ was actually Tanzanite. By then the US was selling $380 million worth of the gems -but Tanzania’s receipts were said to have totalled only $16 million last year.

The South African publication SUNDAY BUSINESS REPORT (2nd September) reported that African Gem Resources (AFGEM), the year -old gemstone mining company, which has taken over one of the four blocks, expected its Mererani mine to be fully operational by the end of the year now that it had seen off a legal challenge in the Tanzanian High Court. By the end of the year AFGEM expected to have invested $20 million and hoped to get a yield of more than 20 million carats by the time its lease expired in 2020. Since the late sixties the trade in Tanzanite had been dominated by artisan miners working diggings in poorly ventilated shafts. When cut and polished the US market for Tanzanite jewellery was estimated to be worth $300 million a year (Thank you David Leishman for sending this item and the two below -Editor).

The Malawi NATION (October 16) reported on a controversial video, said to include interviews with local miners at the Canadian­run Bunyanhulu mine in Kahama, in which they allege that some of their colleagues were buried alive in 1996 during the filling in of mining pits. The NATION reported that human rights organisations were calling for an independent enquiry but that the government and the past owners of the mine had repeatedly denied the allegations and the veracity of the video. (Since then the matter has become a political issue with Tanzania Labour Party leader Augustine Mrema claiming that he has a copy of the video and refusing to hand it over to the police -Editor).

South Africa’s BUSINESS DAY wrote on September 27 that hawkers at traffic junctions in Johannesburg were absolute amateurs compared with their innovative cousins in Tanzania. ‘Pull up at a crossroads in Dar es Salaam and you can buy pillows, an electric food blender, a tennis racquet with balls and a reflective red triangle for your car – all from one hyperactive hawker’. The article went on to describe the remarkable success of Vodacom in selling cellphones -120,000 in its first year (Mobitel has 90,000, Tritel 20,000 and Zantel 26,000.

‘Thoroughly gripped by the Aids pandemic, Tanzania is fighting back with all it has. Artists and other professionals have rallied behind the nation in the war against the disease.’ So began an article in NEW AFRICAN (October) which went on: “The deceased made a blunder. He did not wear a condom” sings a musician in a Swahili rap beat….. The Arusha Regional Commissioner has threatened to prosecute owners of guesthouses who do not supply condoms to their guests….. AIDS is punching Tanzania so hard at that its once staunch religious fundamentalists are thinking twice about their rejection of the condom. “If people cannot control their desire, they should wear a condom to check the spread of HIV”, Bishop Sam Baiano of the Anglican Church said recently.

‘The soldiers came at night. 15 year-old Donacie Buchimi heard screams and gunshots, and the next morning his neighbour was lying beheaded in the dirt. Donacie fled, running barefoot through the Burundian rainforest for two days until he stumbled into Tanzania. He was lucky. Had he fled in the opposite direction, he would have ended up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country as wracked as his own. Tanzania, in contrast, has been peaceful for as long as anyone can remember and is unusually hospitable to those in need’. So began an article in the August 25 issue of the ECONOMIST under the heading ‘The penalty of kindness’ – ‘In some areas, refugees outnumber locals by as much as 5-1. Everywhere in Western Tanzania the influx has been disruptive. When there is a hiccup in the delivery of food, many refugees rob nearby villages. That this has not led to bloodshed is a testament to the mildness of the local people….’ But as one farmer said “They cause trouble. Every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, on their way back from the market, they enter our homes and steal things. Bored with their monotonous rations, they trade them for bananas and meat….local subsistence farmers have suffered because the prices of maize and beans have plunged because of the free supply doled out in the camps. The wages they can earn working for their neighbours have fallen, because refugees, though officially barred from working outside the camps, do so in large numbers…. (Thank you Jill Bowden for this item – Editor).

TRAVEL AFRICA (surely the most captivating of all travel magazines – Editor) surprisingly had only two items on Tanzania in its bulky Summer 2001 issue -there are usually several. The first, under the heading ‘Jurassic Safari’ said that Brachiosaurus, the heaviest of all prehistoric animals (possibly up to 100 tons) and the heaviest land vertebrate of all time, used to roam near Tendaguru in southern Tanzania 150 million years ago. The article speculated that, because of its weight, it probably spent less time on land than in the Rift Valley lakes where its bulk (up to 27 metres length above ground) would be buoyed by the water. The second article recounted the complexity of some of the cases dealt with by AMREF’s Flying Doctor surgeons -third degree bums covering large parts of the body, leprosy patients missing parts of ears and noses, cleft lips and horrendous skin cancer melanomas. At Bukumbi Hospital in Northern Tanzania, where hygiene is described as good and staff well-organised, on January 20th ‘a woman is brought in with leprosy who cannot close her eyelids. Two surgeons open up her scalp and twist some muscles behind the ears until they meet at the bridge of her nose. When they are stitched in place the woman is told to close her eyes. She does. Everyone is electrified and the woman’s fingerless hand tries to clutch the surgeon’s arm as a smile of joy and thanks trembles at her paralysed lips’.

Under the heading ‘Trunk line to the spirit world’ Karl Vick, writing in the WASHINGTON POST (12th November) described what he called the ‘Magic Corner’, a strip of land between the turquoise sea and a row of luxurious white villas north of downtown Dar Salaam. Extracts from the article: ‘In this corner there is a huge and ancient baobab tree … It is as much a wall as a tree and people remove their shoes before kneeling in front of it, their eyes closed, their backs to the Indian Ocean, and their money in the pocket of the ‘witch doctor’ who invariable brings them to this enchanted confluence of sea, earth and commerce. “This place is like a mosque” said Ali Selengia, standing barefoot in the shadow of the great tree on Kenyatta Drive. His wife, a traditional healer, passed a coconut around and around the head of her kneeling client. When she handed him the coconut he hurled it onto a stone. It shattered, releasing his problems to the winds. “Today, myself, I have some evil spirits that are making me ill” he explained “so I came here”. The article went on to say that Arab traders did not introduce Islam to Africa until the 10th century and Christian missionaries had little success spreading their message until the end of the 19th. Neither faith has quite managed to overcome the spiritual connections fashioned in the previous l30,000 years … The tree shows evidence of very heavy use. Hundreds… of iron nails protrude from the trunk, a few still holding in place folded squares of paper bearing wishes – some for relief, others for revenge. But the writing is legible only to the spirits … Other tokens are more cryptic. Feathers stuffed in a sea shell and left on the ground; a broken clay pot containing ashes and rusted razor blades; the dried carcass of a puffer fish dangling from a high branch, a scrap of paper in its mouth……. (Thank you Nick Westcott for sending this and another item from Washington -Editor).

Writing in a recent issue of WHITE FATHERS – WHITE SISTERS, Father Martin van de Ven described his many years of work in Mwanza and the surrounding area. He said that when Tanzania got independence in 1961 the population was 30,000 but it had now reached 700,000 with an annual natural increase of 3% and another 8% through immigration. Every hill in the town was full of houses. The fishing industry was said to be booming with eight fish processing factories employing more than 4,000 employees and thousands of private fishermen. Estimates were given in the same issue of the number of people of different faiths in Tanzania (1998):
Catholics 11,643,000 (34%)
Protestants 6,107,000 (18%)
Muslims 11,916,000 (35%)
Hindus 10,000
Other faiths 3,954,000 (12%).
(Thank You John Sankey for sending this item -Editor).

Britain’s Department for International Development has issued a special edition of ‘DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION UPDATE’ under the heading Civil Society and National Policy in which some prominence is given to the successful Gender Budgeting Initiative in Tanzania, described in an earlier issue of TA. It quoted the presentation by Agrippina Mosha at a recent workshop which set out some of the opportunities and challenges arising from the involvement of civil society in the initiative. The full version of her paper includes a description of the objectives and achievements of the programme, an analysis of focal areas for donor support and the opportunities created by social and political reforms in Tanzania. Details from: Tgnp@muchs.ac.tz.

The Gender Network received further publicity when Agrippina Mosha and others were quoted in WORLD DEVELOPMENT MOVEMENT IN ACTION (Winter 2000) as having been angered when they learnt that when the heads of the World Bank and IMF were in Dar, only one hour of their time had been scheduled for meeting NGO’s. They therefore organised a demonstration at the Sheraton Hotel and unfurled placards with strong messages: ‘We want total debt cancellation’, ‘IMF and World Bank stop exploiting Africa’ …. They were arrested and held for six hours.

Three prominent articles in South Africa’s BUSINESS DAY and MAIL AND GUARDIAN in September (Thank you David Leishman for these -Editor) reported that two South Africans had been deported from Tanzania for allegedly illegally testing ‘Virodene’, an anti-AIDS drug, on 64 Tanzanian army personnel. Zigi Visser and Themba Khumalo had entered Tanzania illegally and the trials were said to have been registered with the Tanzanian authorities. The couple were alleged to have left behind a string of debts including a $7,780 telephone bill, a similar unpaid account with local cellular telephone companies and the rent of their Dar es Salaam house. Tanzania’s National Institute of Medical Research was said to have declined authorisation for human testing. A defiant Visser said from his Pretoria home on returning to South Africa that the deportation was part of a plot by global pharmaceutical companies afraid of the potential impact of Virodene. Tanzanian Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Bernard Mchomvu was quoted as saying that Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research never gave permission for the Test at Lugalo Barracks and also at a private clinic owned by the country’s Inspector-General of Police. The consignment was alleged to have been imported by the Chief of Defence Forces. The drug had caused a major political scandal in South Africa in 1997 when then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki had publicly denied that the African National Congress (ANC) had been funding the development of the drug.

‘Tanzania has in recent years experienced a lethal twist to the ancient traditions of consulting witchdoctors; clients, many of whom are desperate to get rid of Aids, are told to go to bed with a virgin. The Act, the witchdoctors claim, will rinse the deadly disease away’. So reported the COURIER ACP-EU (September -October 2001). The article went on ‘This advice now undermines the country’s attempts to stop the spread of HIV/Aids and ruins the lives of thousands of young girls….. Six-year old Bahati in Kilimanjaro Region was no longer a good student at school. She was falling asleep during classes and eventually she was taken to the doctor. He cried after he’d carried out the examination. She had been sexually molested. Her father is now in jail. He claimed that he believed that sex with a virgin would end the dreaded Aids which he may have got when visiting one of his many casual female acquaintances. The NGO ‘Envirocare’, with funding from the Danish government, has published a booklet and it is hoping to make a video about this story to show to other children who may be affected. Bahati (not her real name) has been tested several times for HIV but fortunately she is not infected. (Thank you Nasor Malik for sending this item -Editor).

In an article under this heading NEW AFRICA (May issue) published extracts from a new book by African-American Paulette Anderson revealing that Africans had been living in Berlin since the mid-1880’s and that some 2,000 were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Individual case studies referred to a Josef Mambo, born in Tanganyika in 1885 who became a Sergeant in a Prussian Infantry regiment, fought in World War 1 and later became a performer employed by the Deutsche Afrika Schou. Another Tanganyikan mentioned was M’toro bin M’wengi Bakari who was a Swahili language assistant at the College for Oriental Languages, Friedrich­Wilhelms University, Berlin from 1900 to 1903 and was the author of the book ‘Customs and Traditions of the Swahili’.

‘On a train journey to Tabora which should have taken ten hours we limped into Tabora 24 hours later. The train had broken down, so I had to spend the night sitting outside a third class carriage, in the middle of the Tanzanian bush, chatting to about twenty Tanzanians on every subject – life in Ulaya (Europe), Christianity, mission, even the current performance of the Euro in the world monetary system! Tanzanians are so warm, welcoming and friendly. In fact I enjoyed chatting with people I had never met before so much that I think I’m quite glad the train was delayed’ – Peter Ferguson, a participant in the Crosslink’s ‘Smile Programme’ writing in CROSSLINKS (August). (Thank you Mary Punt for sending this item -Editor).

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