Compiled by Donovan Mc Grath
After a Severe Birth Injury – New York Times 22.03.09
This article described the distressing pain and suffering experienced by Sarah Jonas and Mwanaidi Swalehe, two teenage girls hospitalised in Dodoma after developing ‘an internal wound called a fistula, which left them incontinent and soaked in urine.’ The young women are hoping surgeons can repair the damage caused by difficulties during childbirth.
Extract: ‘Pregnant at 16, both had given birth in 2007 after labor that lasted for days. Their babies had died, and the prolonged labor had inflicted a dreadful injury on the mothers.’
The article continues: ‘… Dr. Jeffrey P. Wilkinson, an expert on fistula repair from Duke University in North Carolina, noted that women with fistulas frequently become outcasts because of the odor… Fistulas are the scourge of the poor, affecting two million women and girls, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia – those who cannot get a Caesarean section or other medical help on time. …’ Thank you Liz Fennell for this article – Editor.
Bi Kidude book review – East African 13.07.09
A review of a book about Fatma Bint Baraka, popularly known as Bi Kidude, was published in The East African (13 July 09). The reviewer Mohamed Said says: ‘Bi Kidude needs no introduction to the people of the East African coast, from Lamu in Kenya to Lindi in Tanzania and beyond. This is the region where taarab music is a popular part of Swahili culture.’
Extract continues: ‘In this predominantly Muslim society, where elderly people are expected to live their last days in pious seclusion, the 80-year-old Bi Kidude wears make-up, enjoys a drink once in a while and still mounts the stage in packed concert halls in Zanzibar and abroad…. This book is an encyclopaedia of the life and culture of Zanzibar people… The book moves with ease from one epoch to the other, introducing readers to the “Zanzibar enlightenment” when young people were first exposed to Western dance, music, and cinema for entertainment.’
Borderless competition – African Report No 18 (Aug-Sep 09)
‘Borderless competition: The arrival of East Africa’s common market next year will be the first step to much more open trading in the larger Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] region; winners and victims are already getting ready’, reads the headline to this business article
Extract: ‘Even when tariffs strike zero on 31 December, a host of non-tariff barriers will persist, entrenched by vested interests. Much of the trouble is coming from Tanzania, where the authorities do not recognise harmonised regulatory standards already written into law. On the whole, Tanzania has been far more resistant to integration than any other EAC member. As its socialist past and lack of English-language training has kept Tanzanian businesses from becoming as competitive as those next door; fear of being overrun runs deep. It is questionable whether Tanzania will go forward with the EAC – it has until the end of 2009 to opt out.’
‘Expenses culture has high cost for world’s poorest nations’ – Financial Times 30.07.09.
Extract: ‘In Tanzania, one African country with a relatively well established if slow public sector, the problem is not simply corruption. It is a form of institutionalised, legal time-wasting that is endemic in the region . . .
‘At its root is the culture of the “per diem”, the daily payment made to officials attending meetings and conferences that is nominally designed to cover the costs of travel, food and accommodation… All too often [per diems] are a rational way for individual, underpaid and neglected civil servants to make ends meet, while doing little to help achieve any objective.
…The whole system rewards people on outputs not outcomes.’ Thank you Leocardia Tesha for this item.
Indonesia & Tanzania Illegal Logging – Developments 12.01.09
Indonesia-based NGO PT Triton and UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) worked together with the Moi people in West Papua, Indonesia to express outrage at the environmentally disastrous logging activities proposed for their district. The result was an 11 minute film, The Tears of Mother Moi, screened at the Bali climate change conference and an instant Internet hit. The idea is to give local people a voice to express their thoughts and concerns over their – and our – environment.
Extract: ‘EIA is now taking its unique brand of training and empowerment to … Tanzania … As in Papua, illegal logging is a serious problem. With 33 million hectares of forest land (about 40% of the country), Tanzania is one of the most heavily forested countries in east Africa – but up to 500,000 hectares of forest are disappearing every year, up to 90% of it illegally felled.
‘… EIA’s new project got off the ground [last] November with basic training for three Tanzanian partner NGOs. Eventually the training will cascade down to local communities which are being invited to participate.’
Malaria Resistance -Economist 11.04.09
This interesting article explained a new approach in evolutionary theory that may help fight malaria. Aside from insecticides, herb-based drugs and the possibility of a vaccine, ‘the traditional first line of attack on malaria, killing the mosquitoes themselves, has yet to have a serious makeover.’ This method has enabled resistant strains to evolve, consequently rendering chemical insecticides ineffective over time.
Extract: ‘The upshot is that discovering a way to retain the anti-malarial benefits of insecticides without provoking an evolutionary response would be a significant breakthrough. And that is what Andrew Read of Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues have done. They have rethought the logic of insecticides, putting evolutionary theory at the centre, instead of a simple desire to destroy the enemy…’ Dr Read started from the observation that it is old, rather than young, mosquitoes that are infectious. Only females can transmit malaria (males suck plant juices, not blood) but they are not born with the parasites inside their bodies. They have to acquire them from humans already carrying the disease, and that takes time… In theory, then, killing only the oldest female mosquitoes—those at significant risk of being infectious—could stop the transmission of the disease. Since these females would have plenty of time to reproduce before they died, the evolutionary pressure imposed by killing them would be much lower…
‘The model, which they have just published in the Public Library of Science, reveals that selectively killing elderly mosquitoes would reduce the number of infectious bites by 95% and that resistance to such a tactic would spread very slowly, if it spread at all, because mosquitoes vulnerable to a post-breeding insecticide would have a chance to pass on their vulnerable genes to future generations.
‘The problem, of course, is to find an insecticide that only kills the elderly… A trial involving spraying fungal spores on to bed nets and house walls in Tanzania, is being set up at the moment. If it works, it will be a good example of the value of thinking about biological problems from an evolutionary perspective. People will still get bitten, but the bites will be merely irritating, not life-threatening.’ Thank you Simon Hardwick for this item.
Michael Jackson Tribute – East African 6.12.07.
This tribute to Michael Jackson sought to vindicate the late ‘King of Pop’ for failing to perform in East Africa by emphasising his ‘special relationship’ with the people of the region. Reporter John Kariuki says, ‘His music and videos carry memorable clips of the region.’
Extract: ‘For instance, part of the footage on … “Earth Song” [Bad 1987] was shot at the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania…’ Moreover, the Kiswahili verse … “Nakupenda pia mpenziwe” … appears in “Liberian Girl” … Originally, “Earth Song” was to be filmed at the Amboseli National Park, but since it involved darting elephants, “The Kenya Wildlife Services would not allow it”…‘Tanzania was more flexible and the filming was done on its soil.’ MJ did visit Tanzania in 1992, but there were ‘negative claims that he constantly held his nose … because of the country’s foul smell,’ which was explained as just ‘a nervous gesture’ by Robert E. Johnson, writing for Ebony (May 1992). Apparently, this is why producer Quincy Jones nicknamed him “smelly”.
Portraits of Success – Sir Stuart Rose – Times Mag 23.05.09
Readers of this article would have discovered that Sir Stuart Rose, Executive Chairman of Marks and Spencer, has connections with Tanzania. In a report featuring portraits of today’s high-flyers posing in their work spaces, among numerous items in his office, Sir Stuart Rose has an African shield hanging over the window frame. In reference to the shield, he said: “I spent my childhood in Tanzania and have real affection for it. I helped build the Mvumi Secondary School there three years ago, and was made an honorary chief of the Wagogo tribe.” Thank you David Morgan for this item.
Register your sim card in Tanzania – East African 13.07.09
According to Joseph Mwamunyange ‘Tanzania has become the first country in East Africa to start registering cellular phone sim cards.’
Extract continues: ‘The move is aimed at curbing misuse and keeping track of the owners… The practice in Tanzania, as in other neighbouring countries, is for mobile phone subscribers to buy sim cards like any other commodity. This has led to abuse of the cards. But now, one will have to produce some form of identification before buying a sim card. Mobile phone users have until December 31 to register their sim cards, after which time all unregistered numbers will be deleted from the mobile phone system.’
Should it follow on the path of health or weather – BBC Focus On Africa (Apr-Jun 09)
This is the ethical dilemma facing Tanzania today. Reporter Anthea Rowan asks: ‘Should [Tanzania] turn away from tobacco production or continue to reap its economic benefits?’ An estimated 1.5 million Tanzanians depend on the cultivation of tobacco for their livelihood, so will the country’s health lobbies convince citizens that smoking is bad for health?
Extract: ‘True, since 2003 smokers can no longer light up in public places and the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 is banned. But the country is emerging as one of Africa’s primary tobacco producers and non-governmental organisations like the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF) want tobacco growing to be cut back in favour of alternative crops deemed more healthy…’ However, critics argue that alternative crops (i.e. export vegetables and paprika) suggested by TTCF are not ‘viable replacements since the tobacco-growing region of Tanzania lacks the necessary infrastructure to support the export of highly perishable crops like fresh vegetables which must have swift access to an international airport and cold storage facilities….
‘But what of the conflict between promoting a tobacco-growing industry and the responsibility to protect a population from smoking-related disease?’
The article ends by saying: ‘The reality is that tobacco remains a profitable crop. The shape of its market is changing – there are fewer smokers in the West but growing numbers across China and eastern Europe. Smoking – and its attendant health problems – is a choice. Poverty usually is not.’
Tanzania claims $58m war debt from Uganda – Uganda’s Daily Monitor May 09 (online)
Extract: ‘Thirty years since the Kagera war, Tanzania, which played a major role in liberating Uganda wants the paycheck for its contribution to the 1979 war that freed Uganda from Idi Amin’s leadership. According to the paper’s online edition, the bill sent to the Uganda government stands at $58m…’
Tanzania to solve murder by ‘ballot’- West Australian 07.03.09
Tanzanian police are continuing their efforts to stop the witchcraft-related murders of albinos. After issuing possible victims in Dar es Salaam with mobile phones and access to a ‘hotline’ using text messages (TA No. 93), the latest tactic is to ask ‘residents to write down murder suspects’ names and deposit them in ballot-type boxes.’ Thank you Douglas Gledhill for this article.
Tanzania rookie Thabeet now a Grizzlie in the NBA -East African 06.07.09
Extract: ‘Tanzania now boasts of the first ever international basketballer from the region to grace the world famous NBA, the US top basketball league. Hasheem Thabeet from Dar was on June 25 selected by the Memphis Grizzlies as the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft in New York and will earn $11.5 million in the next three years…. Born on February 16, 1987 in Dar, Thabeet at 7ft 3in and weighing 119 kilogrammes is the tallest player ever to play for the Huskies. ‘He did not begin to play basketball until the age of 15, when he began to watch pickup games in Tanzania…’ Thabeet began playing basketball when he was in Makongo Secondary School in Dar es Salaam.’
‘The Gem of Tanzania. The strange journey of the “jinxed” jewel’ – Financial Times 28.03.09
Jonathan Guthrie and Samantha Pearson analyse the complex chain of ownership of the 2.1kg ruby known as the ‘Gem of Tanzania’. Trevor Michael Hart-Jones, a South African-born businessman living in Winchelsea, East Sussex, is said to be the most significant former owner of the gem. Extract: ‘Mr Hart-Jones, 66, bought the Gem in 2002. It had been discovered by Ideal Standards, a company mining near Arusha … in which he had invested. The company sold him the gem for R200,000, or about £13,000… ‘Mr Hart-Jones exported the ruby to the UK in 2002 … It then came into the possession of Cheshire-based businessman Tony Howarth .. David Unwin bought the ruby from Mr Howarth in 2006, through a land deal, valuing the gem at £300,000 … The gem was recorded at the same value on the balance sheet of Tamar Group [owned by Unwin] that year. It received a gob-smacking revaluation to £11m in 2007 after the takeover of Wrekin [Construction]…’
According to the FT, ‘Wrekin enters administration’ 10 March 2009, and the ‘Administrators take possession of the ruby’ ten days later. Apparently, were it not for the recession, no one outside of the chain might ever have heard of the ‘Gem of Tanzania.’
The push to get all children into school – Guardian 10.03.09
‘The push to get all children into school has seen spectacular successes for Tanzania,’ reports Jessica Shepherd. ‘But’, she adds: ‘with up to 70 pupils to a class, and global aid faltering in the recession, can progress be sustained?’
Extract: ‘… [According to the Tanzanian government], the country is well on its way to achieving universal primary education by 2015 … The ministry of education … states in its statistics book published in June that by this year “all children aged seven to 13 can be enrolled”… But look deeper than the official statistics and education in Tanzania is an altogether different story.’ In her report, Shepherd goes on to explain in detail the overcrowded, dank classrooms and the lack of adequate teaching resources seen in one of the country’s schools. There are also ‘hidden’ costs for parents – the article continues: ‘While primary school tuition fees have been scrapped, Tanzanian parents are expected to contribute to other costs, such as uniform, a cooker for lunch, the cost of the school guards and, in some schools, a donation to the Aids bereavement fund for pupils who have lost one or more parents.’
Towards the end of the article the reader is informed that: ‘In the 1980s, Tanzania almost achieved universal primary education, but it had accumulated a crippling debt burden and by 2000 the proportion of pupils enrolled for primary school had dropped to 57%.’ Thanks to Liz Fennell and Sister Lusia for this article – Editor.
Waiting for a great leap forward – Economist 09.05.09
Extract: ‘The country already gets 40% of its government budget in aid, but now it wants even more foreign cash to help it through the economic downturn…’ President Kikwete, who has been accused of ‘spending too much time burnishing Tanzania’s image abroad and not enough fixing problems at home’ … hopes that aid will keep Tanzania afloat long enough for its economy eventually to make a great leap forward.’ Thank you David Leishman for this item – Editor.
Our apologies to Alex Renton who was wrongly described in TA 93 as an Oxfam reporter. He is a freelance journalist and the piece we quoted from was commissioned by the Observer – Editor.