Dr Elly Macha, 1962-2017. Elly Macha, a pioneering advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, passed away in March in Wolverhampton hospital after a serious illness.
What is most remarkable about Dr Elly is that she has been unsighted since developing glaucoma in Moshi when she was only 2 years old. Despite this by the 1990s Elly had pursued her education with great determination, courage and strength of character on a journey which took her from Irente school for the Blind, Tabora School for girls, Korogwe Form 5 and 6, an Education Degree in special needs at the University of Dar es Salaam, an MA at the University of Manchester (Special Education Internationally) and finally to a PhD at Leeds University on Gender, Disability, Development and Access to Education. She climbed to Uhuru peak of Kilimanjaro in 1994, and it is typical that she should keep going to the top.
Dr Elly Macha consistently followed her expertise and passion to promote women’s rights and those with disability, especially in the area of education. She also wanted to promote opportunities for others just as she had herself received. On returning from the UK she worked for the African Union for the Blind in Nairobi until 2010. Then, in Arusha she started her own NGO, Reaching Orphaned Children and Youths with Disability in Tanzania, as well as undertaking some other consultancies. Throughout these years, Elly remained strongly focussed and committed to her vision in this area despite the road not always being an easy one.
The culmination of her interest and work in human rights and disabilities was her nomination in 2015 as a Member of Parliament representing the opposition party, Chadema, in one of the special seats reserved for women. She was sworn in at the Bunge (Parliament) on November 17th, 2016. It was with great delight that she wrote: “I am so happy to be a Member of Parliament for Tanzania. It has been my dream for a long time and I am grateful to God that it is now a reality. For sure, I will use the opportunity to advocate for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities in all development policies and programmes.” She went on to cite the ratification by Tanzania of the UN convention on rights for people with disability (2009) and Tanzania’s Disability Act of 2010 amongst others, as springboards from which to operate.
The loss to Tanzania’s Parliament and all she hoped to achieve as an MP is significant for her friends, fellow Parliamentary colleagues and all those for whose life issues she worked for as an MP. She brought the very best of her qualities, her expertise and experience, to the Bunge and to her service of others in Tanzania and this will be greatly missed. To those who have shared time with Dr Elly, she was always delightful company with a sense of humour as well as an inner strength and hope that kept looking forward.
Jonathan Pace and David Gibbons
Sir Andy Chande, 1928-2017.
Prominent businessman, Jayantilal Keshavji Chande, has passed away in a Nairobi hospital, at the age of 88. Popularly known as Sir Andy, after receiving an honorary knighthood from the Queen in 2005, his influence had stretched across many aspects of business, politics, philanthropy and more in Tanzania.
He was born in Mombasa in 1928, to parents who had emigrated from India six years earlier. They now ran a small shop in the village of Bukene, Nzega District in northwest Tanzania, close to a small train station on the Tabora-Mwanza branch line. The family business grew, and indeed thrived, while Andy attended a succession of schools in Bukene, Tabora, Dar es Salaam and India, and by the time he returned from India aged 22, it had become a firm of national importance: producing soap and oils, milling rice and maize, representing various international firms’ presence in Tanganyika and with extensive trading interests across East Africa and beyond. It was, for example, the largest exporter of coffee from Tanganyika.
The family and business moved from Tabora to Dar es Salaam, with Chande taking on an ever-growing role – he became Chief Executive Officer of Chande Industries in 1957. Already, his role stretched well beyond the immediate firm, however: he served periods as President of the Dar es Salaam Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and Secretary of Dar es Salaam Round Table. In 1958, he accepted an offer from Governor Turnbull to join the Tanganyika Territory’s Legislative Council (LEGCO) and Executive Council (EXCO). Amidst all this, he married in 1955, to Jayli Madhvani, from a wealthy Indian family in Uganda.
In 1960, a year before independence, Chande declined an invitation from Mwalimu Nyerere and Oscar Kambona to run for elected office on a TANU ticket, arguing he could better support the new nation through business than through politics. This distinction was not possible to maintain for long in the post-independence era, however. Five days after publication of the Arusha declaration in February 1967, Chande was summoned to the Ministry of Commerce, to be told that his company had been nationalised. But rather than leave the country, as his brothers had done, or accept President Nyerere’s offer of a role in the diplomatic service, Chande said he would prefer to keep running his now-nationalised company, the National Milling Corporation. Nyerere accepted.
This was not Chande’s first role in public administration, and nor would it be his last. Over the next 40 years, Chande held positions on the boards, often as chairman, of many sensitive and important public institutions: Tanganyika Standard Newspapers (both pre- and post-nationalisation), the National Bank of Commerce, Tanesco, Air Tanzania, Tanzania Harbours Authority, Tanzania Railways Corporation. He seemingly had the trust of President Nyerere – and later Presidents Mwinyi, Mkapa and Kikwete too – for the role he could play building trust with the Indian community, for his administrative skills, for his political nous.
Beyond this, Chande was connected to the International School of Tanganyika, Shaban Robert School, Buguruni Deaf School, the College of Business Education, the International Medical and Technical University, Muhimbili National Hospital, the Round Table and Rotary International. He became life Vice-President of the Britain-Tanzania Society from the 1970s and provided regular and useful advice both to BTS itself and to many of the society’s members.
Despite his many significant roles, to younger Tanzanians today, Sir Andy’s name is indelibly connected to one particular aspect of his life, as even a brief glance at the tabloid frontpages in the days following his death demonstrates. Chande became a member of the Freemasons in 1954, as his 2005 autobiography, A Knight in Africa, explains. He was one of the first East African Asians to be admitted; Africans were not able to join until several years later. He became district grandmaster for East Africa from 1986 to 2005, and was awarded the Order of Service to Masonry in 2006. He did not hide his membership, and made it clear that Freemasonry is a society for people who want to improve themselves and the world, and has nothing to do with witchcraft.
To date, Sir Andy is the only Tanzanian citizen to have been awarded a knighthood. He also received the prestigious Hind Ratna award from the former Indian Prime Minister, IK Gujral, and was declared to be the “non-Resident Indian of the year” by the International Congress of Non-Resident Indians (NRI), both in 2003.
President Mkapa, speaking at a memorial service to Sir Andy said “I have known him for over four decades. … [T]hroughout, he gave counsel and consultancy without prejudice, fear or favour. [H]is contribution to the growth of our country’s economy through his immense business knowledge and skills cannot be overstated.”