The FINANCIAL TIMES published on 7th November an excellent six page supplement on Tanzania.
In a detailed analysis of President Kikwete’s performance since he took office two years ago it said that he had yet to prove that he can build significant new successes on the achievements of his predecessors. The article went on: ‘Some say that ministers imposed on him by CCM elders are dragging him down or that the money men behind the party are blocking reform…. A deeper explanation is that Tanzania lacks political accountability. People in power are isolated from the masses. One manifestation of the problem is corruption……’ In its criticism of the agriculture sector the paper wrote that the delicate matter of land reform remained a deterrent to big agricultural investors. ‘The sector has attracted only about five per cent of new investment since 1980…. In Parliament the opposition is increasingly vocal in its criticisms but, as 63% of MPs are from the CCM, parliament still functions as a rubber- stamp institution.’ Writing about the thriving gold mining sector it noted that the sector paid $28 million in taxes annually from 1997 to 2006 but this was only the equivalent of half the contributions by the country’s biggest beer company.

The 19th November issue of the EAST AFRICAN recounted the story of Haruna Gombela, the first Tanzanian to earn a degree (Bachelor of Law) in prison. His cell at Ukonga Prison became his study and fellow prisoners became his ‘clients’. He had already helped ninety of them to draw up their appeals. His graduation ceremony was held at the prison when the university’s Chancellor, John Malecela, conferred the degree.

Under the heading ‘President Kikwete has a hard road ahead’ the ECONOMIST (1st September) gave a surprisingly upbeat report on Tanzania, described as one of Africa’s rising stars. Extracts:
The President’s father was a district officer in the British colonial administration and his grandfather a chief. He works 16 hours a day, six days a week. He rises at dawn, listens to the BBC World Service, then scans the Tanzanian press. He takes two weeks holiday a year on safari. “My staff groan” he says, “but the animals take my mind off work…….’
Another hopeful development was described as the faster flow of information, especially to Tanzania’s poorest communities. As he tirelessly tours the country to meet the people, the President carries his mobile phone and often reads out many of the text messages he has received to the admiring crowds….

One of the most striking developments in Tanzania has been education. In the past year the government claims that no fewer than 187 secondary schools have been built in Shinyanga region alone. (Thank you Jill Bowden and Simon Hardwick for this – Editor).

DAILY TELEGRAPH reader Thomas Jorgensen wrote in the paper’s issue of 30th July: ‘There is a headstone in the churchyard in Moshi with the following inscription – ‘Here lies Colonel Gillman. He led a common sense and therefore happy life. He refused to be bamboozled by female relations or the spiritual and secular rulers of this world, into which he was born without his consent.’

Many readers of the NEW SCIENTIST were astonished to read in its June 18th issue that Tanzania (closely followed by Zimbabwe) was the country (out of 90 surveyed) where the people were least happy to live. It was quoting from the work of a sociologist at Erasmus University in Rotterdam who asked people whether they were happy or not. However, the article said that this perhaps reflected the fact that the country was ravaged by drought at the time of the survey. (Thank you John Rollinson for sending this item and your comment that it might be described as’ suspect social science’ – Editor)

Mount HanangMount Hanang near Babati – photo Jacob Knight

In its Autumn 2007 issue, TRAVEL AFRICA devoted 34 pages to articles and illustrations about tourism emphasising eight ‘unique, little visited regions’. They included bird-watching in the Rift valley south of the Serengeti, Tanzania’s 4th highest mountain (3,418 metres) – Mount Hanang – the various lakes and their bird life to be seen on a journey from Katesh to Karatu via Mbulu, the Rock Art sites at Kondoa, the 13 massifs in the eastern arc of mountain’s, the interesting colonial architecture of Lushoto, the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and the Sanje waterfall, the 500 square kilometres of natural forest in the Uluguru mountains and the Amani botanical garden founded during the German colonial era with its excellent selection of guided walks. The article also highlighted the archaeological features of Kilwa and the South coast, Lake Victoria and many other possible destinations. The OBSERVER (16th September) recounted the story of Mahjubbib Adam Mohamed who is to make history in Germany by becoming the first black person to be given a memorial as an individual victim of the genocide during the Third Reich. A bronze plaque will be erected on the ground outside the house in Berlin where he lived. He was born in Tanganyika and joined the Colonial German East Africa Services when he was 18 years old and served with the army. He emigrated to Berlin in 1929 when he immediately got into trouble with the authorities by walking into the Foreign Ministry and demanding his outstanding service pay. He then continued working as a waiter and performed in more than 30 German films. He married a German woman and they had three children but he also had numerous affairs that resulted in several illegitimate children. He was still in dispute with the authorities over money for his time in the army when he was arrested in 1941 charged with the crime of racial intermarriage and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he died in November 1944 (Thank you Elsbeth Court for sending this – Editor).

Tanzanite, discovered in Tanzania just 40 years ago, is becoming rare – according to geologists 1,000 times more rare than diamonds. The geologists, quoted in the TIMES SUPPLEMENT (June 1st) said that there were only 15 years of supply left. The article went on to say that at ‘Theo Fennells’ a boutique on the swankier part of the Fulham Road, three Tanzanite pieces were being displayed in a velvet-lined box. ‘They are extraordinary, surrounded by diamonds and with a filigree setting, though a tad unwieldy because of their weight. Prices start at £50,000 but Fennell himself is less impressed by the value than the ‘imperial richness’ of the stones. After Daniel Pearl, the US reporter, who was later murdered following 9/11, linked Tanzanite profits to the funding of al Qaeda. US buyers of Tanzanite withdrew the gem with a consequently devastating effect on the mines back in Tanzania. As a result, the non-profit ‘Tanzanite Foundation’ was created in 2003 to encourage mining with ethical business practices. It successfully worked towards restoring the reputation of the stone and Tiffany’s in New York eventually restocked it. (Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor).

Women are more attracted to men with deep voices according to an Anglo American study conducted amongst 100 men and women of the Hadza tribe of Tanzania and published in the journal BIOLOGY LETTERS. The men were asked to speak into a microphone the word “Hujambo” and it was found that those with low-pitched voices tended to have more children than those with higher voices. A deep voice seemed to act as a kind of mating call to women. The study was said to confirm previous studies showing that men with lower pitched voices were more dominant, healthier and more masculine.

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