According to the Kenyan NATION a Tanzanian held in connection with the US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 has apologised to victims. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (33) told a US military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on March 17 that he did not know about the bombing and was sorry for assisting the bombers. But he denied charges that he bought a lorry used to deliver the Dar embassy bomb. He also said he did not know that he was transporting TNT used in the bomb. A member of the terrorist cell told him the substance was “soap for washing horses.” After the attack, he told the tribunal that he travelled to Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden and was trained in weaponry.

‘The wheels seem to spin in the sand as we hurtle down the bush track mile after mile from Mtwara. The land is parched, waiting desperately for the rains. This is truly one of the poorest backwaters of this very poor country.’ So wrote Jonathan Power in the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE (December 1). He went on: ‘Suddenly there is a clearing and in it, well, what? The set for a James Bond film? Or a secret Tanzanian missile site, perhaps rented out to the encroaching Chinese-African empire? The new president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, jumps out of our convoy’s lead car and briskly walks up to a white man in a white helmet and grabs his hand. Soon we are all ensconced in helmets and goggles to view a space-age machine that drives a pipe deep into the ground. A burly Canadian tells me he works 28 days – 12 hours a day, seven days a week – and then gets a free ticket home for 28 days off. …..We have arrived at the saving grace of Tanzania’s mounting energy crisis. Tanzania has depended on plenty of rain, full lakes and cheap hydroelectric power, but the recent drought depleted the lakes and knocked nearly two percentage points off Tanzania’s once rapid rate of growth. God works in mysterious ways, however. Underneath these coastal sands gas was discovered last year – enough to provide electricity to Mtwara for 800 years – and more is likely to be found. Before Christmas, Mtwara and nearby Lindi will have the gas flowing into the turbines and the electricity into their streets, factories and homes….’

The EAST AFRICAN (March 20) wrote about population growth. It quoted a UN report as saying that by the middle of this century, Uganda will be the world’s 19th most populous nation, and Tanzania’s population will grow from some 40 million today to 85 million. Life-expectancy is likely to increase from 52.5 to 65 years. The report also states that the increase in AIDS in Tanzania will be less than anticipated – Thank you Keith Lye for sending this extract and the one below – Editor.

The UN Network IRIN (March 20) reported that an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever has killed 16 people and infected at least 100 in Tanzania and is spreading. The Dodoma region is the worst affected by the mosquito-born illness which spreads from infected livestock to humans. People are being asked to be careful with meat and not to eat dead or sick animals.

A recent issue of THE TABLET states that there is now a Swahili translation of the 525 page ‘Compendium of the social doctrine of the Church’ which is published by the Benedictines at Ndanda. It surveys Catholic social teaching from 1878 to the present day – Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor.

Tanzania’s National Football team Taifa Stars arrived in Senegal for an Africa Cup match on March 24. The final will be in Ghana in 2008. For the first time in many years, under a new Brazilian coach, there was real hope that they might win. Taifa Stars had started their Cup campaign with a 2-1 win against Burkina Faso followed by a 0-0 draw away to Mozambique, which had put them on top of their group, even above Senegal. The Stars had also had draws at home to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in friendlies. But the next day Senegal’s LE SOLEIL and all the other newspapers in Dakar, were triumphant. The Taifa Stars had been humbled 4-0 by Senegal. The Stars were said to have been in awe of their famous counterparts. Senegal is a team of professional players who ply their trade in the top leagues in England and France. They have been one of the top African teams in the past few years and in this match they showed why. The Tanzanian players, by contrast, all play in the local Tanzanian league. They do not have one ‘overseas’ professional player.

Marcio MaximoMarcio Maximo (Tanzania’s football coach) is interviewed following the defeat to Senegal (photo Issa Michuzi)

The LONDON PAPER (26th January) described what it said was the world’s first five-star zero-carbon hotel. It is the ‘Per Aquum’ in Zanzibar, due to be completed next year. It will harness the wind and sun to power 35 state-of- the-art villas and will include an air-conditioning system under which the shape of the walls will channel cool sea breezes into the bedrooms; the efforts of guests working out in the gym will be used to drive turbines to create electricity; waste water will be reed filtered and recycled; guests beds will be cooled by cold water pipes running through the beds; and, a giant swimming pool will be filled with rainwater and recycled water – Thank you Pru Watts-Russell for sending this – Editor.

The Kenyan NATION reported on February 5 that, responding to requests from the Somali government, Tanzania had agreed to provide training for its troops in Tanzania but would not be joining the African Union’s peacekeeping force in the country. Some 1,000 troops will be trained in Manyara, at the Monduli Military Academy. Tanzania has already sent 100 soldiers to Lebanon for a UN peacekeeping

Novelist M G Vassanji writing in the December issue of NEW NATIONALIST described ‘growing up with graft’ in Tanzania. In the 1960’s he said he was a ‘soft Asian’. But he was called up to do his national service and posted to distant Bukoba where he had neither friends nor relations. His mother was a widow scraping a living and they didn’t know anyone with influence in government. But they found a friend who had ‘married well’. In spite of help from this gentleman in sending him first to speak to a senior police officer and then to a senior National Service officer he was shocked when the latter refused to hear him out when he said he had a bad knee. Instead he was given a sound tongue-lashing and was told to report to his camp as required. Vassanji then went on to describe graft at that time and how it soon became possible to circumvent the whole of the nation’s new socialist rules and regulations. If you were a student the government would decide which school you went to and whether you could go overseas to study…….However, because the decisions were arbitrary, they could be amended – at a price. The writer went on: ‘Nyerere was a principled man and his African socialism made sense to many of the younger generation…. We sympathised with the poor but we had our own ambitions to attain what we had worked hard for all our lives.’ The article went on to describe how corruption was not a simple bending of rules to supplement low salaries or to assist a friend in need. ‘If it was allowed to persist it grew like a cancer….’ The article concluded by pointing out that with graft there has to exist a corrupt public willing to pay and also noted recent cases of British companies alleged to have been corrupt over the years – Thank you Sister Lucia for this – Editor.

The EAST AFRICAN reported in March that a dramatic drop in flights landing at Mwanza Airport could spell doom for Tanzania’s fishing industry. The decline was being blamed on high taxes and poor maintenance at the facility. According to records at the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA), the number of flights fell from 60 per week in February 2006 to just two in March. Landing, parking and airport charges were high for the Illyushin Strobe 76, Boeing 703 and DC8 that frequently used the facility. But sources in the fishing community pointed to a different possibility – that the decline in flights was caused by a decline in the number of fish fillets being exported out of Mwanza. Madole Athumani, the Chairman of the Tanzania Fishermens Union, was quoted as saying that export procedures and formalities around Nile perch products, had driven up processing factories’ costs, with the result that the prices they offered to fishermen had dropped. Much of the fish was going out either through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport or Mombasa Port. European Union countries were said also to have placed restrictions on aircraft that make too much noise and set standards for aircraft allowed to land in Europe.
The Nile Perch plays an important role in the East African economies, supporting 3.4 million people and contributing about 3 per cent of Uganda and Tanzania’s GDPs and 0.4 per cent of Kenya’s. Fish exports contribute foreign-exchange earnings of about $50 million to Kenya, $82 million to Uganda and $100 million to Tanzania.

In what it described as a £1 billion property spree the OBSERVER (2nd April) reported that although the British Foreign Office had sold £100 million worth of property between 2002 and 2005 it had bought new land and buildings worth almost twice that value. One of the buildings was said to be an office in Dar es Salaam port which had cost more than £6 million – Thank you Peter White for this – Editor.

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