NEW GAME RESERVE
A new 1,574 square kilometre Mpanga/Kipengere Game Reserve which aims to protect the water catchment of the Rufiji River Basin has been gazetted according to the EAST AFRICAN (October 28). The main river draining into the Basin is the Great Ruaha, which is fed by several rivers and streams originating from the new reserve’s catchment area, later joining the Rufiji further downstream. While the two rivers and their adjacent basins have been adequately protected downstream, their catchment within the new reserve and further upstream is unprotected. The Rufiji river basin is the largest of all nine drainage basins in Tanzania, with high and often controversial utilisation of water by multiple users, including irrigation farmers, livestock, wild animals in protected areas, hydroelectric power generation and towns and municipalities. The entire basin covers 177,420 square kilometres and is fed by four major rivers – Ruaha, Kilombero, Luwego and finally Rufiji itself. The Great Ruaha is central to the ecology and tourism in the Ruaha National Park and provides over half the water for Mtera and Kidatu hydroelectric power stations, which have a combined capacity to generate 284 Mw of electricity. In 1993, the Great Ruaha dried up completely in the Ruaha National Park and has since then been drying up every year.
Attempts to instil a sense of cultural identity in Tanzania through a national dress have hit the buffers according to Herold Tagama writing in the October issue of NEW AFRICAN. Extracts: ‘The recent endorsement of a colourful kitenge wraparound and headscarf for women and for men, a suit similar to the collarless one worn by the former Chinese Prime Minister Chou en-Lai, have not gone down well with the people. Both outfits have the national flag sown on the breast to symbolise Tanzania’s national identity. The designers were each awarded TSh1.5 million in prizes but even government and ruling party high officials seemed unexcited by the new outfits….. President Mkapa himself favours a ‘Kaunda’ (a variant of the Chou en Lai) at home but when travelling abroad he prefers a three-piece Western suit. Most of the rest of the male apparatchiks go for Western suits even under the hot African sun. “Why not the Maasai dress?” one person asked. Another praised King Mswati of Swaziland who frequently wears the lubega type of dress with one of his shoulders bare, which is typically Swazi.’
In an article in the October issue of NEWS FROM THE NORDIC AFRICA INSTITUTE Paivi Hasu explained how Charismatic Christianity is appealing across Africa to a wide range of people. Extracts: ‘Christopher Mwakasege, a Tanzanian non-denominational charismatic preacher is considered by some as the icon of the contemporary revival movement in the country. He has established as an NGO a ministry called ‘Manna’ which has been having meetings of up to 30,000 people in a single day. The ministry produces audio and video tapes and can be heard in nine countries of East and Central Africa….. Mwakasege maintains a sophisticated website which includes prayers, testimonies, teachings, questions and answers, pastoral letters…. He differs from some other proponents of ‘prosperity gospel’ because, according to him, faith alone cannot guarantee prosperity….. On the issue of offerings to his ministry he does not emphasise the importance of work en route to prosperity as much as he discusses markets and business. “God did not want man to be poor and material success should come in this life.” He recommends his followers to do market research on what other NGOs offer and what they lack. “If the teacher is not wealthy do not think of becoming his disciple… God wants you to give offerings as your capital…. God wants you to have enough money to continue buying more of his stocks in the firm of Lord Jesus. And when you continue giving in this way Lord Jesus continues making profit and he will return it back to you… you will be given the word of revelation to move you ahead.”
‘A SURGE OF PANIC…….’
‘The feeling of claustrophobia is overwhelming. My nostrils and throat are coated in the fine black dust that seems to hang in the warm air like steam in an unpleasant sauna. The bitter taste of cordite from recently detonated dynamite coats my tongue. The darkness of the hole hides the walls of the tunnel, although they are only inches from my reach. In an attempt to protect my bare head from the hidden dangers, I sit hunched on the gently shifting dust beneath my feet, fighting for breath and attempting to control the rising fear that bubbles through my body…… I was at the bottom of the first 50 metre shaft in a Tanzanite Mine’. This is how Richard Human described in NEWSAFRICA (October 31) the mining of Tanzanite in the gold rush town of Merelani in Northern Tanzania. The article went on: ‘Unsure if my ragged breath is caused by the lack of oxygen, the exertion of the descent or the apprehension surrounding my predicament, I grope my way along the short horizontal tunnel towards the next vertical descent. A small, wiry body pushes past me, heading for the top, dragging a rock filled bag behind him…. A surge of panic sweeps through my body as it briefly becomes clear that the tunnel I am in is an unsupported human warren, dug out by thousands of young hands….. James Lazier, a 26 year-old Maasai explained: “The only thing that keeps them going is brandy and marijuana…..If you get a stone out you can make 8 million shillings ($10,000)………”
(Regular TA contributor Dr Hildebrand Shayo comments on the time when he was doing research on the mining sector in Arusha: “It was in 1991 when I attempted to go down and see for myself what was happening. I went down 150 metres altogether. I was put in a bag of dried cowskin which was tied by a rope of sisal and I was let down slowly for almost 15 minutes. At the bottom I found miners using their local knowledge of the different layers of earth separating the rocks to place their explosive…… But the dangerous part is coming up to the surface again. Some of the workers are tired!” – Editor).
CANADA REJECTS BRITISH PLAN – SHARP REACTION
Canada has thrown up a roadblock to a debt cancellation deal for the world’s poorest countries by vigorously resisting a British plan to inflate the value of the IMF’s vast gold reserves. Extracts: ‘The idea was that sales proceeds would enable the IMF to carry out total debt cancellation under the enhanced ‘Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Relief Scheme’, in which Tanzania is a beneficiary. Canada’s Finance Minister Ralph Goodale was recently quoted by the Toronto GLOBE AND MAIL as saying that his country needed absolute assurances that [re-valuing the gold] would not be disruptive to the international gold industry or international markets for gold. The proposal could eventually slacken global demand for gold to the detriment of Canadian mining companies….. Canadian corporate interests in gold were not in tandem with recent British strategy to stamp out poverty in poor countries. Barrick International, for instance, a leading Canadian gold mining company, had controlling shares in Kahama Mining Corporation Ltd in Tanzania. The G7’s failure to agree on a debt rescue plan drew a stern rebuke from World Bank President James Wolfenson, who, in a sharp reaction said “World leaders spend too much time reviewing proposals and plans and not enough time in making concrete decisions to fight poverty, improve education and make the world a more secure place”. The MONTREAL GAZETTE (reported in the Guardian) quoted Wolfenson as having serious reservations about the G7’s ‘chameleonic behaviour’: “Every five years or so, another global meeting is held to review progress. Usually that meeting concludes that we have not achieved our objectives. New targets are set. Blame and praise is attributed and we are set out on the next five years.”
The DAILY TELEGRAPH (November 24) reported that a lion in Rufiji district had eaten 35 people because ‘it was probably tormented by toothache and found human flesh easier to eat’. An examination of its skull showed it had a large abscess beneath one of its molars (Thank you Liz Fennell for sending this – Editor).
‘I AM WAITING FOR THE RAIN’
‘I am waiting for the rain. Where we live in Tanzania rain hoards itself like candy during lent. There are months of dry, of dust in your ears and mouth, of guilty, furtive sponge baths and an obsession with the level of the cistern. How many times can you reuse the dishwater? Pour the old spaghetti water into the toilet’. So began an article in THE TRAVELLER (December) by the novelist Melanie Finn. Extracts: ‘The dry season is not a good time to have guests from Europe or America. They flush and flush away. They brush their teeth with the tap running. They pour that half glass of water that they didn’t want down the sink……. I confess that it suits my Scottish soul this scrimping and saving……our water comes from Kilimanjaro – on Fridays. Our garden is dead and brittle. Even the bougainvillea pales and droops on the stem…….
Then, tonight, a flying ant appears. My heart leaps. ….Somewhere, not far away, it is raining………
SAVED FROM ATTACK
The TIMES OF SWAZILAND reported in October on a court case in Mbabane concerning the actions of a Municipal Council Officer who had saved a Tanzanian from attack. He was patrolling in the street when an Indian Tanzanian, Akil Ahmad, came out of his shop shouting for help. He said that two men immediately came out of the shop running and took different directions. He said that he and his colleagues gave chase… a pistol fell from the front pocket of one of the thiefs’ trousers. The officer picked up the gun and continued to give chase until he caught up with him with the help of some members of the public who wanted to assault him. As a result of the threats from the public the accused did not even try to resist arrest. He was charged with robbery of 15 cell phones, possession of a .22 pistol without a licence and contravening the Immigration Act in that he is alleged to have remained in the country illegally without the necessary documents….
FILM ON NILE PERCH
THE TIMES explained in an article in December how a film (Darwin’s Nightmare) had been made by Hupert Sauper, an Austrian film-maker. It showed how Europe’s buying power was not helping Tanzanians but was exploiting their resources while ignoring the resulting social problems. The film tells the story of the export of Nile Perch from Lake Victoria in large Russian-made cargo aircraft and how the Perch are destroying the Lake’s ecosystem by eating the smaller fish that keep vital algae growth in check. (Thank you Mr C W B Costeloe for sending this item – Editor).
ZANZIBAR – THE BEST
The New York based TRAVEL AND LEISURE MAGAZINE quoted in The Express has awarded Zanzibar the accolade of ‘the World’s best and highest-ranking tourist and leisure island in Africa and the Middle East region’.
CRIPPLING TRADE UNIONS
In his review of East African trade unions in the October-December issue of the EAST AFRICAN Barrack Muluka wrote that the Tanzanian Government had recently embarked on a mission to cripple trade unions through legislation. It had put in place a complicated complaint and negotiation mechanism which effectively rendered strikes in the country illegal. Although Tanzanian law recognised collective bargaining, agreements that governed such bargaining had first to be submitted to the Industrial Court for approval. If they did not conform to the Government’s economic policy, they would be rejected.
In its main front page headline and on two more full pages inside, under the heading ‘Abuse investigation’ the DAILY TELEGRAPH reported in great detail how the charity ‘Anchorage Orphanage’ in Dar es Salaam, that provides shelter for street children and which is backed by British fundraisers, was being run by a Briton wanted in India on charges of sexual abuse against young boys. Duncan Grant (61) a former Royal Navy reservist from a distinguished military family was alleged to be the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by authorities in Bombay two years ago where he had been operating similar shelters. In a lengthy interview Grant told the paper that the allegations had been invented by the Bombay police, his lawyer and a rival volunteer. He said that the boys alleged to have been affected had since withdrawn their allegations. However, British Jesuits who had been sending gap-year students to help at the shelters in Dar es Salaam had now withdrawn their support. The rest of the article quoted numerous people involved with Grant and his shelters in India and Tanzania but they gave contradictory reports on the truth or otherwise of the allegations against him (Thank you John Sankey for sending this information – Editor).