by Donovan McGrath

Tanzania faces fresh pressure over airport – East African (5 January 2013).
Extract: ‘Tanzania is facing renewed pressure to shelve the construction of an international airport next to the world famous Serengeti National Park … “The government is facing real pressure from some circles, but it will go ahead despite all these,” [said Deputy Transport minister Charles Tizeba]. Construction of the $350 million airport was expected to start early this year … The Friends of Serengeti movement has repeatedly denounced having an airport so close to the World Heritage Site, saying it would attract more human activity near the fragile Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Opponents of the project say the landing and takeoff of large planes in Mugumu could damage wildlife migration patterns…’

Fastjet threatened with licence removal – Independent (6 February 2013)
Extract: ‘Major turbulence yesterday hit Fastjet, the African budget airline backed by easy-Jet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, as a legal dispute saw the former owner of its Kenyan business threaten to take away its licence. Fastjet’s Africa operations have been licensing the Fly540 brand from Five Forty Aviation – majority-owned by chief executive Don Smith since 2008. But Five Forty claims Fastjet has not filed safety reports for the past three months and that one plane, “which flew with defects from Tanzania and landed in Nairobi on 14 December, should not have flown”. It also alleges Fastjet owes it $7.7m (£4.9m) in licensing fees …’ Thank you Roger Nellist for sending this article – Editor

Tanzania leads East Africa in switching to digital television – East African (5-11 January 2013)
‘Other countries have been held back by the pricing of set-top boxes or logis­tics.’ Extract continues: ‘Tanzania is the first East African country to switch off the analogue television signal despite fears that the pricing of set-top boxes would disrupt the process… The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) switched off the analogue signal in Dar es Salaam on December 31, 2012 at midnight but said it will take a phased approach in order to ensure the process is smooth. But there were reports of technical hitches … TCRA linked the hitches to the lack of public awareness on installation of the set-top boxes rather than quality of devices or frequencies…’

West Cork volunteers install solar-powered plant in Tanzania – Southern Star (8 December 2012)
It is always nice to see Tanzania featured in local press. This little piece, which comes from Ireland, came a bit late to be included in TA 104, but here it is!
Extract: ‘… Two volunteers from West Cork, Xavier Dubuisson … and Sean Coomey … travelled to Tanzania to install a solar power system at a primary school run by the African Benedictines. The project was an international co-operation between Cork charity Solar Without Frontiers (SWF), Glenstal Abbey, St Ottilien Archabbey in Germany and the Mvimwa Abbey in Tanzania. SWF, set up by a group of sustainable energy specialists in Co Cork, aims to bring solar energy to disadvantaged communities in Africa… The school in Mvimwa caters for approximately 470 pupils, aged between four and 13. Boarders from all over Tanzania as well as local students attend the school, which is recognized as a centre of excellence in education in Tanzania… SWF estimate that the solar PV system will meet approximately 90% of the school’s electricity demand, resulting in a saving of £3,700 in diesel fuel cost.’ Thanks to Ann Moriyama for this article – Editor

When Dar, the haven of peace, was the Mecca of revolutionaries – East African (5-11 January 2013)
Extract: ‘…Right through the 1960s and 70s, the country’s capital Dar es Salaam attracted the global revolutionary set like a beacon. Among them was the late Guyanese historian Walter Rodney, the 32nd anniversary of whose assassina­tion was marked in June [2012]. He was among numerous academics, intellec­tuals, political activists, freedom fighters and dreamers from around the world who settled in Tanzania at different times during the Ujamaa era… Revelling in an atmosphere that not only fuelled their idealism but also served as a hothouse to incubate ideologies and movements they believed would change the world… The Organisation of African Unity Liberation Committee – earlier based in Accra, Ghana – moved its headquarters to Dar-es-Salaam. Tanzania became a reliable rear base for Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) and the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) as well [as] South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA)… Having oper­ated from Tanzania for many years, people like current Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba and his predecessor Dr Sam Nujoma retain fond memories of their years there… The late president Julius Nyerere’s leadership had made it clear that freedom for the country was meaningless as long as other African countries remained under colonial rule. It therefore welcomed African freedom fighters with open hands, including some who would eventu­ally perish in the course of the struggle. Among them was Eduardo Mondlane, the former Frelimo president who was assassinated in 1969 by a parcel bomb sent to him at the Frelimo headquarters in Dar es Salaam… Apart from the hands-on freedom fighters and activists, many distinguished academics and intellectuals were also drawn by the political environment in Dar. Thus Walter Rodney, who influenced so many African Independence-era intellectuals with his 1972 treatise How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, had two stints teaching at the University of Dar es Salaam. According to Horace Campbell, a renowned scholar … Rodney’s time in Tanzania was “perhaps the most important in the formation of [his] ideas”, and while based in Dar, “he was at the forefront of establishing an intellectual tradition which still today makes Dar es Salaam one of the centres of discussion of African politics and history.” …’

Transporting dinosaurs the hard way – Guardian (online 6 March 2013)
Dr Dave Hone takes a look at the issues facing palaeontologists past and pre­sent when it comes to moving fossils. Extract: ‘A key problem with excavating dinosaurs and other fossils is that these tend to be in remote places… That means that once you have dug up your bones and wrapped them in a protective plaster jacket, you need to get them to a road in order to get them to a museum. Off-road vehicles help of course, but can’t always get that close to the site… Naturally modern machinery makes a big difference, but even back in the late 1800s and early 1900s there were typically large numbers of horses (or camels in Asia) available, and distances to some form of road or railway were not too prohibitive. However, one major expedition really took the biscuit, cake and most of the sweet trolley when it came to transporting bones, and recently I was lucky enough to catch up with the last vestiges of their efforts. Descend to the bone cellar in the Berlin Museum for Nature today and there are a couple of neat racks of bamboo cylinders on the shelves representing the last of the dinosaur remains collected in east Africa over a century ago. Back in the first decade of the 1900s, a team of German palaeontologists began excavating what would prove to be one of the great dinosaur field sites in what is now Tanzania. Huge numbers of colossal bones were uncovered … and in just a few years of excavation they had amassed a collection of thousands of individual specimens (though sadly many were lost in World War II bombings). However, the terrain was horrific and funds were relatively low, and pack animals didn’t do well in the heat. So how do you transport single bones that weigh several hundred kilos some 60 kilometers (as the crow flies) to the coast? The solution was to have them carried by hand. A near army of locals were hired to help dig out the material and still more were employed to carry the bones out of the field. Local bamboo was cut and held together with wire to create cylinders that could be carried by a single person. The cylinders were then walked out in trains of people to the port of Lindi where they were packed into crates and shipped to Germany. Larger cases were created that could be carried by two to six people (and on one occasion eight), but beyond this they became too hard to manipulate over the rough ground and so setting a relatively low size limit on what could be carried. The biggest bones were therefore carefully broken into smaller chunks, marked up, and then reassembled back in Berlin. All together it required more than 5000 man-journeys (it was a four day walk to the coast) to shift 185 tons of material in 4300 individual containers in under five years. So many of these were taken out in such a short space of time, and so much work was required in Berlin to open, prepare, clean and mount the fossils that not all of the containers were ever opened. Fortunately while there may be a few still sitting unopened, their contents are not a mystery as a few years ago the museum had them CT scanned so we do know what is in there… Even with hundreds of bearers, the idea of carrying the best part of two hundred tons of bones cross-country for tens of miles seems staggering, and my respect of their achievements is colossal: the material is in superb condition. Still, I wouldn’t have minded a spare helicopter on a couple of my last few trips to ease the burden.’ Thanks to Tim Brooke for this item – Editor

Ngorongoro project on the spot – East African (19-25 January 2013)
Extract: ‘Controversy surrounds a TShs5 billion ($3.154 million) livestock project in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater initiated three years ago, with claims of irregularities and misappropriation of funds. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), which was to establish a 3,000 hectare livestock ranch for the Maasai community in the tourist site, is now trading accusations with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) over the stalling of the project. In 2009, the government directed the NCAA to spend the cash on establishing a ranch that would be used to transform Maasai livestock hus­bandry in Ngorongoro. It was to be operational in July 2011, with a capacity to contain 70,000 cattle. But, a year and a half later, with nearly TShs2 billion ($1,261 million) spent, there is nothing to show for it. The East African has been informed that the funds were spent to pay a consultant and to conduct a study tour of France by elders from the Maasai community. The [PPRA], a parliamentary committee and the state are now suspecting swindling of some of the money. However, the NCAA management denies any impropriety, instead accusing the PPRA of interfering with the project in the implementation phase over procurement technicalities…’

Two tons of ivory seized at Kenya port – Evening Standard (16 January 2013)
Extract: ‘Kenyan authorities have seized at least two tons of illegal elephant ivory in Mombasa. Port customs officers impounded 638 pieces from Tanzania in a container bound for Indonesia that was said to be carrying “decoration stones”… There is a growing demand in China for ivory trinkets.’

Call of the wild: family of gorillas to be freed in African – Times (24 October 2012)
Extract: ‘…An 11-strong family of gorillas … will be released into the wild after living in captivity at a wildlife park. The group is headed by Djala, a 30-year­old male rescued from poachers in Africa and taken to the wildlife partk at Port Lympne, Kent, in the 1990s. His family consists of five “wives” and five offspring aged between 6 years and 8 months. They were all reared in captiv­ity… The release [in Africa], planned for early [2013], is the first time a rein­troduction of a family group has been attempted the conservation organisation [the Aspinall Foundation] said… The foundation, which runs a captive-breeding programme [as part of its Back to the Wild initiative], has already released 3 black rhino into the wild in Tanzania … where it says they are doing well…’
Thanks to John Sankey for this item – Editor

Kiswahili, lingua franca on a roll: Kiswahili has spread beyond region, thrives in unexpected places – East African (1-7 December 2012)
Ciugu Mwagiru writes about the swift spread of Kiswahili. Extract: ‘For those concerned about the loss of African heritage and our rapidly vanishing languages and cultures, the best news of the decade is that Tanzania plans to promote the teaching of Kiswahili in foreign countries and will be setting up offices for that purpose through its embassies abroad. Amos Makalla, the coun­try’s deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, said recently, the project will kick off “very soon” with the opening of a teaching office in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, which also hosts the headquarters of the African Union… Tanzanian parliament ratified a protocol on the establishment of the East African Kiswahili Commission, which seeks to recognise Kiswahili as the regional bloc’s lingua franca. Tanzania became the second country to ratify the protocol after Kenya… The Ugandan parliament has yet to ratify the new protocol… Rwanda and Burundi … have already sought the green light from the East African Community Secretariat to embark on the promotion of Kiswahili in their countries… Kiswahili has become the second language for millions of people in East and Central Africa, where it is either an official or national language… Already an official language of the African Union, along­side English, French, Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish, Kiswahili has grown fast and now thrives in unexpected places: Libya, the Comoros Islands, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, United Arab Emirates and even South Africa, Canada and the US… At the global level, Kiswahili has grown fast, and today, estimates show it is spoken by some 120 to 150 million people, a huge jump from 2007 figures. In that year, Kiswahili was estimated to have six mil­lion native speakers and 40 million second language speakers…’

Politics: President Kikwete’s loss of CCM influence means he will not be able to pick his successor – Africa Report (No 46 December 2012-January 2013)
This article was published in the Country Profiles/East Africa section in The Africa Report magazine, under the subheading: Constitutional Conflicts.
Extract: ‘Party Chairman Kikwete seems to have little influence in determining who will succeed him after his second five-year term ends in 2015, due to his declining popularity and power within the CCM. He has publicly complained that corruption and internal divisions may soon shake the party’s power. Former prime minister Edward Lowassa, who resigned in 2007 over corruption, is seen as the CCM’s leading presidential candidate… Other leading contenders are foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe and East African cooperation minister Samuel Sitta. Although nobody has publicly declared their intention to run for office, the potential presidential candidates have already started mounting campaigns with the party. An ongoing process to write a new constitution will continue with the Constitutional Review Commission (CR) touring the country to garner views… However, the constitutional review process has motivated separatist movements and radicals in Zanzibar who want the isles to be granted full independence…’

Should I stay or should I go? – Africa Report (No 46 December 2012-January 2013)
Extract: ‘The secession debate is taking centre stage in Zanzibari politics as a growing number of radicalised movements spread to the mainland. Mainlanders are increasingly sceptical of the union with the islands, which include Zanzibar and Pemba, while Islamic separatist movement Uamsho is questioning the authority of the National Muslim Council, which they perceive as pro-government… There have also been allegations that top leaders in the islands’ leading opposition party, the Civic United Front, as well as in the ruling CCM, are providing support to the separatist movement…’

$21m bailout to rescue Tazara from collapse – East African (9-15 February 2013)
‘This is the newest and most outreaching of railway systems in the Comesa and SADC sub-regions.’ Extract continues: ‘A total of $21.2 million will be injected into the troubled jointly owned Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) in a bailout plan agreed by both countries… Slightly under half of the amount ($10 million) will be contributed equally by the Zambian and Tanzanian govern­ments … while the rest ($11.2 million) would come from “smart partnerships.” … The cash injection will rescue Tazara from its current hand-to-mouth modus operandi and set it on the path to recovery …’

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