by Donovan McGrath

Microwave link with Zanzibar upgraded
‘Tanzania has upgraded the microwave link connecting Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, a move expected to double the capacity of voice and improve data quality… The $1.6m project, agreed in 2012 between Japan and Tanzania, is in line with the government’s Vision 2025 to enhance use of communication as a tool for sustainable development.’

Mafikizolo live in Dar
‘In East Africa, among songs that have made Mafikizolo, the Afro-pop duo from South Africa, a household name, are Ndihamba Nawe and Emlanjeni. … In Dar es Salaam, Khona [from the duo’s latest album, Reunited] continues to top music charts. Not surprisingly, Mafikizolo’s recent concert at Mlimani City Hall was jam-packed… Unfortunately, the sound system was poor. The bass notes were so loud that the guy on trumpet didn’t get to perform… But judging from the reception Mafikizolo got, it seems the crowd chose to ignore the poor sound qual­ity…’ (East African 19-25 April)

Horror behind the smiles of Maasai girls

FGM campaigner Elizabeth Lesitey - photo from the Standard

FGM campaigner Elizabeth Lesitey – photo from the Standard

‘Almost all Maasai girls face the threat of female genital mutilation … Charity workers are trying to stamp out the procedure among the Maasai in Tanzania … They want to change the mistaken belief that it only happens to Muslim girls … 70% of Maasai girls are cut, having their clitoris and other external genitalia removed with a razor blade, compared with 18% in Tanzania as a whole – despite it being illegal in the country since 2007. The story of Ngaiseri Muteko shows change is happening. The elderly Maasai woman can’t remember when she began cutting girls… Until earlier this year, neighbours would bring their daughters and pay her 10,000 Tanzanian shillings (£3.50) for each child she cut… With someone helping to force the girls on to the ground, she would use a small razor blade then pour milk on the wound, followed by ash from the fire in her hut, which she said has healing properties. Girls spend three months in the hut recovering. But in February Ngaiseri threw away her razor blade and declared she would never use it again. The change came just nine months after meeting Elizabeth Lesitey, a 29-year-old worker for the charity World Vision. Elizabeth, herself a Maasai and a mother of three, has targeted 62 cutters and so far managed to persuade 33 to give up… Ngaiseri earned a good living from the practice, so Elizabeth gave her three goats and eight chickens, funded by World Vision, to provide an income. Many of the girls Ngaiseri cut were suffering from what the Maasai call “lawalawa”, a urinary tract infection caused by unhygienic conditions. For years Ngaiseri and oth­ers believed that the only cure for little girls was to cut off their external genitalia. But Elizabeth busted this myth by taking a girl suffering from “lawalawa” to hospital, where she was cured by doctors using medica­tion. This sent shockwaves through the community. On International Women’s Day in February, alongside 29 other cutters, Ngaiseri made a declaration in front of her community that she would never cut another girl…’ (London Evening Standard 18 July)

WHO: Aids now the number one killer of adolescents in Africa
‘According to the World Health Organisation report Health for the World’s Adolescents, East Africa is one of the regions where the disease kills more youths than road accidents, the number one global killer of 10-19 year-olds. On the global level, HIV is the second most com­mon cause of death among adolescents. Other leading causes of death are suicide, lower respiratory infections and interpersonal violence. According to the UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids), in 2012, Tanzania had 230,000 children under 14 living with HIV, Uganda had 190,000, Kenya 200,000, Rwanda 27,000 and Burundi 17,000.’ (East African 31 May – 6 June)

Tanzanian artist’s journey through life
‘Robino Ntila has been painting since 1975. Born in 1954, he first went to Dar es Salaam in 1968. Ntila is a veteran of Nyumba ya Sanaa, an artist’s association founded in Tanzania by Sister Jean Pruitt from the USA. “Before I joined Nyumba ya Sanaa I was enthusiastic about art… In 1971, I used paints for the first time. I had just completed secondary school. I spend time with artists. There was a Congolese artist who was the first to commercially paint the savannah landscape with Mt Kilimanjaro in the background. I was also introduced to some batik techniques called ‘moderne’”… Ntila uses subtle techniques for his work, which range from realist to abstract, mixing cubism with aspects of African silhouettes… He worked at Nyumba ya Sanaa for 30 years.’ (East African 7-13 June)

New taxman appointed
‘Rished Bade has been appointed the new Commissioner General at the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), replacing Harry Kitilya, who retired last December. Prior to his new appointment, Bade was deputy commissioner general. Top priority for the new taxman will be to cut down on revenue leakages and widen the tax net to support the government’s growing spending needs.’ (Citizen and others)

Witch doctors arrested over albino killing
‘Albinos in Tanzania have become targets for body-snatchers seeking to sell them to witch doctors. Two witch doctors have been arrested after a woman with albinism was hacked to death, police say. Albinos have suffered widespread persecution in Tanzania, where witch doctors say magic potions made with albino body parts can bring good luck. Such killings have declined in recent years, but this latest attack has prompted a human rights group to call for all witch doctors to be banned. …the group, Under the Same Sun said the current regulation of witch doctors was clearly not working. The attack occurred in a village in Simiyu region (formerly part of Shinyanga) – a remote rural area where there have been killings of albinos before … According to Under the Same Sun, the last killing of an albino in Tanzania was in February 2013. The government has been trying to address the problem, and an albino MP was appointed several years ago.’ (BBC News Africa 14 May)

Mo-Cola: Tanzania’s new soft drinks war targets poor consumers
‘Cash-conscious consumers in Tanzania will soon have a new product to spend their hard-earned money on: Mo Cola. The fizzy drink is the latest home-grown offering to go into battle with established market leader Coca-Cola, which has been bottling its secret recipe in Tanzania for more than 60 years. That the market for such cut-price drinks is growing in Tanzania is an illustration of the financial realities faced by the country’s consumer class. Despite impressive 7% a year GDP growth, the number of poor people in Tanzania has not fallen in the past 15 years.
‘Mo Cola is named after Mohammed Dewji, chief executive of MeTL [see TA 108], a family conglomerate he says turned over $1bn last year, serving the needs of Tanzania’s largely poor population with everything from sugar and spaghetti to fuel and pens. Although Dewji is keeping the launch price of Mo Cola under wraps, it is likely to undercut Coca-Cola… It follows another local family corporation, Bakhresa Group, which brought out the Azam Cola in 2011 following a $30m invest­ment. Bakhresa estimates it has 15% of Tanzania’s soft drinks market… Entrepreneurs have long understood that, however little a family has, food and clothes will always be a priority. Developing new drinks ranges is part of an effort to capture a little bit more from the country’s poorer consumers. “There is money to spend even though people have limited value in their pocket,” said Dewji, who has put $48m into developing his drinks line – enough for 36m crates a year…’ (Financial Times online 18 April)

Zanzibar bombing leaves one dead
‘One person was killed and several others were wounded in a bomb attack near a mosque on Tanzania’s Ocean Island of Zanzibar … Police said the bomb went off in the commercial district of Stone Town … The attack coincided with the opening of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, which draws international visitors … There was no immediate claim for responsibility. Zanzibar has been the scene of sectarian and political tensions in recent years, although the island has been generally quiet for several months… There have also been wider tensions surrounding this year’s 50th anniversary of Zanzibar’s union with mainland Tanzania, with some opposition parties wanting to break ties and return to independence. The unrest had sparked fears of a tourist exodus…’ (Telegraph online 14 June)

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