Needless to say the arrest in Pakistan of Ahmed Ghailani (from Zanzibar), who is accused of having masterminded the bombing of the American embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi attracted massive coverage in the media all over the world. The heaviest coverage, over several days, was in Pakistan’s newspapers. After the capture of Ghailani the Pakistan DAILY TIMES (July 31) quoted the Pakistan Interior Minister as saying: “We have now been quite successful in apprehending some of the most important figures of the Al-Qaeda including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Ramzi Al-Sheban and many others…. Pakistani security forces had been acting on a tip-off when they raided a suspected militant hideout. Ghailani, his Uzbek wife, and up to eight other foreigners, including two South Africans, were among those arrested according to Pakistan’s NATION newspaper (August 6). ‘They were strangers, and they acted as such, keeping mostly to themselves,’ the newspaper said. Investigators were scouring a computer and several disks seized from Ghailani and the others after a 14-hour gun battle with security forces in the city of Gujarat, 175 km southeast of Islamabad. Ghailani’s driver led police to his hideout. Among those found in the house were three women and five children. Ghailani had brought two other foreign comrades to his ‘safe house’ after the group became nervous that security forces were closing in on the hotel in Gujarat where they had been staying.
The security forces have also caught his local contact, Ejaz Warraich, a member of Millat-e-Islamia who rented the safe house for Ghailani. Ghailani, who reportedly could not drive a car at the time of the bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, was probably the most senior Al Qaeda operative caught in Pakistan since the arrest in March 2003 of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. “It is a big achievement for our security forces,” Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told the Pakistan National Assembly. It seems to have led on to the arrest of several other suspected terrorists.
The attack by pirates on a party of British students in Pemba in July received massive publicity in the British press. The DAILY EXPRESS filled its front page and two inside pages with articles under the headline ‘Shot by pirates – Terror ordeal of teenage British girl on gap-year trip to paradise island’. The article in THE TIMES on 5th July under the heading ‘Britons on gap year are shot by African pirates’ wrote: ‘The 25 students taking part in a gap year diving expedition were forced to bury their heads in the sand while the pirates stole money, jewellery and watches. “When the shot went off, everyone thought it was some sort of celebration,” one of them said. “Then, without any warning, the pirates just started shooting”. The headline in the INTERNATIONAL EXPRESS read: ‘Home at last: Survivor of the Pirate Raiders.’ (Thank you Douglas Gledhill for sending this from Australia – Editor) which described how ‘the brave gap year student, Grace Foster, escaped death by one mm when a bullet passed through her, narrowly missing her spine, before lodging in 20 year-old Robert Scott’s thigh.’ Grace said: “Once the bullet is removed we are planning to split it in half and each have a piece in memory of our Pemba Island ordeal.” Police later arrested five suspects in a massive manhunt and recovered the boat allegedly used. One of the suspects had been in police uniform and armed with a pistol; the raiders escaped with, among other things, £2,500, two outboard engines, two computers and two drums of petrol.
Pages and pages of illustrations supported an article in the July issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE under the heading: ‘Hunting for Glory – with the Barabaig of Tanzania.’ Extracts: ‘The Barabaig live on the margins of Tanzanian society, struggling to maintain their cultural traditions. The Government prosecutes anyone hunting elephants outside of licensed safaris so hunts are conducted in strict secrecy. The Geographic’s photographer spent six months with the Barabaig before he was allowed to join a hunt….. each man receives two to four spears…novices must prove themselves before earning more than two weapons… Rushing in for the kill the hunters face the danger of losing life or limb…. three hunter were killed during the writer’s time with them……They walk for 12 hours a day and eat nothing for the duration of the hunt, which can last a week or more. Only the first two men to kill will become ‘superheroes’. The article concluded: ‘No one knows exactly how many elephants the Barabaig kill each year but the number is relatively small. Conservationists agree that these traditional practices pose no threat to Tanzanian’s robust elephant herd estimated to exceed 100,000.’
A letter from a British reader in the July issue of NEW AFRICAN contrasted the generosity and tolerance to refugees and asylum seekers offered by African countries with the xenophobic attacks typical of Britain. ‘Tanzania shares what it has with millions of refugees…..the right-wing media and some British opposition politicians should take a leaf from Tanzania…..’ the letter said.
The EAST AFRICAN (May 10) revealed the contents of an unpublished mid-year donors’ (including the World Bank, the IMF, Canada, France, Germany, UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries) review of the ‘Poverty Reduction Budget Support and Poverty Reduction Support Credit.’ The development partners said they were seriously concerned by the continued delay in preparing a new Bill on corruption. The long delay appeared to indicate a lack of commitment by the Government they said. However, President Mkapa criticised the media and politicians for accusing his government of corruption, saying instead that such media owners should explain to the public where they got their capital and how they recouped their losses. Tanzanian Attorney General Andrew Chenge said: “It is unfair to generalise in evaluating our fight against corruption because efforts have been made to curb the vice; there is no pending new Bill on corruption. What’s in the pipeline is making amendments to the anti-corruption law; this is being dealt with by other stakeholders such as the Tanzania Law Reform Commission,” he said.
NEW AFRICAN (August) published the results of a poll of its readers to nominate the ‘greatest African of all time’. The late President Julius Nyerere came 4th in a list of 100. He was described as ‘a great leader who refused to allow the trappings of power to corrupt. He was respected by his country, Africa and the rest of the world.’ Needless to say number one on the list was Nelson Mandela – ‘a living legend’; number-two was Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah; and, number three was Robert Mugabe. No other Tanzanians were on the list. Kofi Annan was 10th; Michael Jackson was 41st, F W de Clerk 50th, the William’s sisters 73rd, the Queen of Sheba 87th and Helen Suzman 100th.
The GUARDIAN WEEKLY (30th July) and the INDEPENDENT (3rd August) reported that the 354 – pupil Mvumi Secondary School is expected, if the share price of Marks and Spencer rises over 400p to receive from its Chief Executive, Stuart Rose, up to £500,000. Mr Rose’s connection with Mvumi began three years ago. He had spent eight years in Tanzania as a child and was looking to donate money to a project when he met the head teacher at Mvumi Mr Richard Morris. He has already paid for the building of a new school administration block. (Thank you Janet Bujra and Liz Fennell for sending these items – Editor).
Reporting on numerous violations of human rights of African students in Russia, NEW AFRICAN (April) described the growth of racism in the country. One case quoted was that of a Tanzanian student, Isaac Mwita, who was taking a pre-University Russian language course and had been viciously attacked by a group of five skinheads. One of them stabbed him in what seemed a ritual manner and left him writhing in agony, after they had stripped him of his jacket and forced him to lie on the ice-covered ground on a day when the temperature had fallen to minus 15 degrees. He was hospitalised in critical condition but was eventually released and returned home to Tanzania.
The American publication AFRICA NEWS REPORT (6th July) quoting from the NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE (July 1) reported that researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Tanzania’s Muhimbili University College of Health Services had found that women taking multivitamins (vitamins B-complex, C and E) significantly delayed the progression of HIV compared to those in the study who received a placebo instead. Researchers randomly assessed 1,078 HIV-infected pregnant women who were enrolled over a two-year period beginning in April 1995 and were followed until August 2003. ‘All women received standard doses of antenatal folic acid and iron, and all children received six-monthly doses of vitamin A, as per standard of care in Tanzania.’ It added that anti-retroviral therapy was unavailable at the time of the study to the majority of women in Tanzania, including those who were eligible for participation in the study. During the study, 299 of the 1,078 women either died from AIDS-related causes or progressed to WHO stage 4 (equivalent to AIDS). Among the 271 women who received multivitamins, 24.7% progressed to WHO stage 4 or died of AIDS-related causes; among women who received multivitamins with vitamin A, the total was 26.1%; for those who received vitamin A alone, it was 29%; and of those who received the placebo, it was 31.1%. Moreover, women in the study who took multivitamins had ‘higher CD4 immune cell counts, lower viral loads, and reduced complications of HIV infection, including oral thrush, oral ulcers, difficulty in swallowing, diarrhoea and fatigue. Our data suggest that multivitamins delay the onset of disease progression and thus extend the time until such therapy is necessary. Multivitamin supplementation is inexpensive: US $15 per person per year.
The Nairobi-based EAST AFRICAN STANDARD (July 26) reported that Microsoft Corporation is appealing to Kiswahili experts to help it create a standardised technical glossary for its Kiswahili program. The company has launched an interactive website where experts can contribute their suggestions. The website offers volunteer participants a platform to debate and help create Kiswahili translations of over 3,000 English computer terminology words. Patrick Opiyo, who is managing the Corporation’s Kiswahili programme, said that when the Kiswahili language program was complete, over 100 million people would have access. He put a closing date on the scheme of August 11, 2004 after which the project moderator would begin the review and selection. The final draft deadline was to be September 3, 2004 – Thank you Ron Fennell for sending this item – Editor.
The ASIA PACIFIC MISSION FOR MIGRANTS in Hong Kong reported on July 19 (following a Press Release from the LEGAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE in Dar es Salaam on July 16) the case of the rape of a Tanzanian maid by an official of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Dar es Salaam. The Centre strongly condemned this act and criticized the Tanzanian Government for even considering taking financial compensation from Saudi Arabia. This was offered as the diplomat enjoyed diplomatic immunity. The Centre demanded that the diplomat should be taken to court – Thank you Ken Mpopo for sending details of this case – Editor.
The ANTIQUES TRADE GAZETTE of 15th May described the sale of close to 100 items at Christie’s in London of books on the life and extraordinary times of Richard Burton. An 1872 first issue of the publication ‘Zanzibar’ that sold for £6,500 contained the sheet in which Isabel Burton, just a few days after publication, presented the book ‘With the hearty best wishes of Richard Burton for the success of the Livingstone expedition’ to a Lieutenant Llewellyn Dawson who was to lead a search expedition into the interior from Zanzibar – Thank you John Sankey for sending this item – Editor.
THE TIMES (5th May) quoted Bob Geldof of Live Aid as saying that there was ‘initiative fatigue over Africa’. The ‘Commission for Africa’ set up by Tony Blair had held its first meeting in London in May. Asked why there should be yet another commission, President Mkapa, who is a member said: “I would ask you why preachers preach every Sunday in spite of the fact that the Bible has been with us for 2000 years. It is as simple as that. Sometimes inculcation can energise people to do something……We hope to produce the energy that will generate action and implement recommendations that may well be a replication of what has been said before.” The BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA (July-September) under the heading ‘Africa’s champion – UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is taking up Africa’s cause on the international stage’ included an article by British Aid Minister Hilary Benn. He wrote that he was broadly in favour of the establishment of the Commission. But there was another article by William Mervyn-Gumede which took a very cynical view. It asked who were the ‘stooges’ in the Commission and decided that it was the African members. Mr Blair had been under fire over Iraq and this was a useful diversion. Mr Blair should have noted that many African countries were still waiting for the G 8 countries to fulfil previous promises to Africa. They could have pointed out that rich countries gave their farmers $320 billion in handouts, more than six times the amount they gave to poor countries in aid. ‘One of the commissioners, perhaps President Mkapa, might have insisted on fair global trade as a pillar of any effort to reduce African poverty’ the writer said.
The EASTERN AFRICA MAGAZINE in its July issue published a letter from Dr Frederick Kassulamemba describing the Britain-Tanzania Society as doing a superb job in bringing development to one of the poorest countries in the world. Even more satisfying was its success in helping to win the war on debt cancellation by the British Government.
An article in the April issue of the NEWSLETTER OF THE JUBILEE DEBT CAMPAIGN quoted President Mkapa as saying how much he wished the campaign success and commended it for its new initiative. Tanzania’s debt relief had been directed towards the social sectors and, as a result, the primary school population had increased by 50%; over 31,000 new classrooms had been built; hospitals were being refitted and the rate of immunisation had reached 83% – Thank you Sylvia Voisk for sending this – Editor.
The American publication AFRICA NEWS REPORT gave the results in August of the ‘diversity lottery’ for persons wishing to obtain permanent resident visas in the USA. 9.5 million persons applied during 2003 of whom 100,000 were successful, including 356 from Tanzania.