The London GUARDIAN, writing about global warming (March 14) published a photograph which it said showed that the snowy cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 metres (19,340 ft) was now all but gone – 15 years before scientists predicted it would melt through global warming.
The paper reported that 34 ministers at a G8 energy and environment summit meeting in London were receiving a book – published by the Climate Group and entitled Northsoutheast-west: a 360-degree view of climate change – that included a picture depicting global-warming. The book’s text described the devastating speed of climate change documented by ten of the world’s top photographers.
Three days later the paper quoted from an article in the NEW YORK TIMES which spoke of the ‘naked, angry summit and new icon of Africa, something to accuse us all.’ It went on: ‘But angst is unproductive: there are powerful reasons to save Kilimanjaro’s ice. ….It also contains a vital record of past climate. To predict Africa’s future we must understand its past. Nearly 12,000 years ago there was a snap change in the earth’s climate. Ever since, ice has accumulated on the summit, trapping an amazing record of the tropical climate. Ice cores tell us which years were warm or cold, when there were fires or dust storms, when there was drought and disaster…… But the cloud forests that ring the mountain are now being destroyed. The top of the ice is already lost, the sides retreat. Soon all will be gone….. Scientists have shown that there are now too few clouds and too much sunlight. We do not know why. Perhaps it is due to global climate change. The cloud forests that ring the mountain are being destroyed. Without them the whole mountain becomes drier, fires occur, perennial streams become seasonal and fewer mists and clouds rise to the summit….
Geologist Euan Nisbet at the University of London has said that we could still try to save the ice. We could protect it with white covers, like those used on landfills, designed to shade the cliffs while still allowing cooling winds. Snowmakers could cover the flat top of the ice cap with sacrificial snow. We could buy time while the forest is restored. Then, with luck, more moisture would advect up the mountain…… (Thank you Christine Lawrence for sending these articles – Editor).
(We have also heard from Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, and former High Commissioner in London, Dr Abdul Shareef who tells us that he has once again climbed to the top of the mountain – Uhuru Peak. He took seven-and-a-half hours to reach Kibo Hut compared with the 13 hours it took him when he climbed six months earlier. He reported that during the previous climb there was no fresh snow at Uhuru. In March this year it snowed heavily but all of it melted the next day – Editor).
In an article in its February issue entitled ‘If only Tanzanians were like Nigerians’ EASTERN AFRICA’S Tanzanian contributor Saidi Yakubu said that Nigerians had tended to adopt Western countries as their second home and that the Nigerian government was benefiting from this. Nigerians in Britain were very active in trade in African products including foodstuffs, textiles, and body cosmetics, they were moving into the film industry and were active in the housing market and in running tax, accounting and mortgage firms. Nigerians were the leaders in African commercial activities in Britain. The writer went on: ‘There are over 22,000 Tanzanians in the UK. If half of them spent £5 at a Nigerian shop every month that would hand over to Nigerians more than £50,000 a month!…. Tanzanians also tend to rent rather than buy their accommodation in Britain which means they are unable to obtain business loans….. We need to nurture the Nigerian spirit to prosper in this land.
The NEW YORK TIMES (23rd December) reported that Tanzania’s High Court had freed Rashid Hemed (34) who had been charged six years earlier with helping to carry out the 1998 bombing of the American embassy in Dar es Salaam. His trial lasted four years and there were 18 witnesses but the judge finally ruled that there was not enough evidence to support conviction. Hemed admitted that a bomb detonator was discovered in his house and that he knew people tied to the bombing. But his defence lawyers argued that Hemed’s clothes were mixed with those belonging to other people including Ahmed Ghailani who had been captured in Pakistan earlier and who was believed to have played a major role in the bombing.
The EAST AFRICAN (3rd January) described how the TSUNAMI which devastated countries bordering the Indian Ocean also claimed the lives of 10 Tanzanians including five schoolboys and seriously injured another three in Dar Salaam. Most residents were unaware of what was going on until a ferry in the Magogoni Creak was caught up in a storm that de-stabilised it for two-hours. The navy had used two marine boats to battle the waves as they rescued fishermen whose boats had overturned or sunk. However, there were no casualties in Zanzibar because the Government there reacted to the impending catastrophe quickly and broadcast announcements on radio and television warning people to stay away from the sea shore (Thank you Christine Lawrence for sending these items – Editor). The Tanzanian Guardian also revealed that the Tanzania Italian Petroleum Refining Company (TIPER) had incurred some Shs 5.5 billion loss when a heavily loaded tanker was swept adrift, forcing the captain to anchor and damage some eight pipelines at the Kurasini Oil Jetty in the Dar es Salaam port.
When Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown decided to go and really see Africa for the first time and to publicise his proposals for a ‘Marshall Plan’ to help the continent, he devoted a large part of his visit (in January) to Tanzania. He got a great deal of publicity in the British media. THE BBC’S POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT MARK MARDELL was one of the many journalists who went with him. He kept a daily diary. Extracts:
…..Brown said that Britain should stop apologising for colonialism and be proud of its history. While missionaries went to Africa out of a sense of duty, African soldiers died to defend British values of liberty, tolerance and civic virtue…..He finds it notoriously difficult talking about his personal life and his emotions. Of course, throughout this trip we have been interested in what he feels when he sees the sort of poverty and suffering that he has come here to witness. He has told us that in the last day or two he has seen ‘grinding, abject, relentless poverty and glimpsed the aching souls of millions’ but has also seen ‘The hopes in the eyes of young people’……
…..He is reporting with increasing enthusiasm what he has seen and done. There is an air that he is relishing getting out from behind his treasury desk, and that if ever Dar es Salaam South needs a new MP……. But the bulk of the day is spent talking about AIDS. It’s hard to avoid sounding mawkishly sentimental reporting even the conversations. The Chancellor crams into a tiny two-room mud hut to hear one dying man tell him that he is too poor to travel to see his doctor, too poor to eat properly. He adds that his neighbours hate him, but he believes that all men are brothers. The Chancellor touched the man’s wrist and said indeed they were. I was rather glad that, when I asked Mr Brown about his feelings, he muttered “Very moving”, and failed entirely to come up with a glib sound-bite…..
A convoy of minibuses drives through the countryside to the little village of Chahwa. People stop working in the fields to lean on their hoes and watch this strange procession. A little girl playing in an old truck tyre waves and when we wave back ducks back inside the tyre. Even a goat stops chewing….. Mr Brown is in Chahwa to see for himself the new school – a sturdy construction of concrete and wood among the low huts of baked brick which are just a slightly darker colour than the bare red earth surrounding them. The point is that the school can be built and education can be free here directly because of debt relief. Tanzania has promised, if it’s let off its debt by Britain, it will spend it on education. ….. Mr Brown is a rumpled Pied Piper surrounded by children bearing mattocks rather taller than themselves in clean but frayed white shirts, the girls in brilliant indigo skirts. The kids are so cute we suspect the Treasury of hiring them. Mr Brown asked the children “Who wants to be a doctor? Who wants to be an engineer?” I try my luck and shout out “Who wants to be prime minister?” But Gordon’s too smart to allow his hand to shoot up…..
THE INDEPENDENT (January 15) wrote: Gordon Brown cast aside his dour image yesterday to talk openly about how his childhood memories of missionaries from Africa speaking in his father’s church in Scotland had spurred him to fight poverty. He talked about his wife, Sarah, who spent her first seven years in Dar es Salaam and attended an international school in the city. Her mother ran a nursery, and her father worked as an educational publisher. The Chancellor said he hoped to bring his 15-month-old son John to the Tanzanian city one day. Mr Brown made a fleeting visit to the International School of Tanganyika where she studied. He spoke about the plight of a 12-year-old girl he met who had lost her parents to Aids and was infected with HIV. He was asked whether having children had influenced his attitudes towards the poverty of the young people he had met. Mr Brown, whose daughter Jennifer died days after she was born prematurely, paused. He said: “Yes. It is so important. You are looking into the eyes of children all the time and you ask what their prospects are going to be. It’s right to tell the G7 and finance ministers and politicians that as long as we do not act, all the promises we make to children, to mothers, to parents, are never going to be redeemed.
The DAILY TELEGRAPH (January 22) in its account of the visit, said that, in contrast to its neighbours, Tanzania had allowed the debt relief it had received to trickle down into education rather than into the pockets of bureaucrats or Swiss bank accounts. 31,000 classrooms had been built and 18,000 teachers recruited. (Thank you Jackie Morgan for this piece – Editor).
The ECONOMIST (20th November) and the FINANCIAL TIMES (18th November) revealed that a Chinese plant, Artemisia annua, which holds the key to beating malaria, has suddenly become greatly in demand as the disease continues to kill vast numbers of people around the world. International health officials are seeking to diversify Artemisia cultivation to Kenya and Tanzania where the climate and soils suit the plant. One small company, ‘African Artemisia’ in Arusha, has already started cultivating the herb and it is now anticipated that some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world might begin to take an interest. (Thank you Jill Bowden for sending these items – Editor).
A story in a recent issue of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS concerned a certain Tanzanian named Soreal Elias Nnko: ‘He didn’t kill a goat when he was accepted into a high school class at Plano in Texas. That’s reserved for really special occasions. But he, a teacher and classmates, did drink sodas, and even a couple of beers, to celebrate an opportunity that few enjoy in one of the world’s poorest countries – the chance to learn, at long distance, from teacher’s in one of Texas’s wealthiest suburbs. Mr Nnko, who is enrolled in Plano’s popular on-line e-School, lives in a community centre in Imbaseni, a largely undeveloped farming village within view of Kilimanjaro. He connects to his class from a tiny computer lab that battles frequent power failures. He has, in turn, passed the lessons on to children who need it most – street children who have lost their parents to Tanzania’s AIDS epidemic – Thank you Peter Park for sending this item and for adding that the Britain Tanzania Society’s Development Trust, had tried, a number of years ago – before the computer lab was built – to get Lottery money (without success, unfortunately) to help Imbaseni develop, in particular, to provide dormitories for the girls – Editor).
NEW AFRICAN (January) reported that at the recent 6th summit held in Arusha, Kenya President Kibaki, Uganda President Museveni and Tanzanian President Mkapa accepted a report by a fast track committee which recommended a road map to the political federation of the region by 2010. All three countries will maintain their national identities including their individual presidents, parliaments and flags but they will share a Chief Justice, Supreme Court, cabinet and federal parliament. During the consolidation period between 2010 and 2012 the federation’s presidency will rotate between the three member states before elections for the federal parliament and president are held during the first quarter of 2013. The original concept of the East African Community broke down in 1977 mainly as a result of personal and economic differences between regional leaders. It was resurrected in 1999 by the signing of a new treaty and in 2001 the group became institutionalised, establishing the East African Court of Justice, an East African Legislative Assembly and an East African Customs Union.