by Donovan McGrath
Ngorongoro—The less explored calderas
This is an interesting article by traveller Graeme Green who was guided by local Maasai in the most remote areas of the Ngorongoro. The Sunday Telegraph (UK) published Green’s travel experience under the heading “Animal magic on the Mountain of God”, in line with the traveller’s focus on the remote region’s wildlife. Green begins the piece by likening the whooping calls emitted by hyenas following a fresh kill to that of ghosts. His Maasai warrior guide Peter Mwasini informs Green that the hyenas’ eerie sounds are in fact telling others to come, eat. Extract continues: We were inside Olmoti volcano, within Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. While many come here to see the rich wildlife down in the “crater”, I was hiking into the lesser-explored calderas of Olmoti and Empakai, before trekking to the flamingo-filled shores of Lake Natron and Oldoinyo Lengai – the “Mountain of God”, Tanzania’s third-highest peak and its only active volcano… There were hyena tracks on the dusty trail. “Very fresh. Big. Not far from here,” surmised Goodluck Silas, our guide… Peter, Goodluck and ranger Saitus Kipalazia, armed with a semi-automatic rifle – spoke loudly as we walked, standard safety practice in this part of Tanzania where there can be big beasts hidden in the long grass… On my first evening I walked downhill with Peter to the Maasai village of Olchaniomelock (“Sweet Tree”)… Peter talked about life in this volcanic region: “Around eight years ago, Lengai erupted. Ash covered this area. I saw the fire coming up. Before it erupts, the animals know; you see zebra and antelope running.” … [The] next morning we drove down into Ngorongoro. “It’s actually a caldera, not a crater,” Goodluck corrected me … Extinct for 2.5 million years, it could once have stood taller than Kilimanjaro, scientists believe… [M]easuring nearly 12 miles from side to side … [t]he caldera brings an uneasy proximity of predator and prey; zebras and wildebeest galloped across the dusty grasslands, a pack of hyenas in pursuit. Later, we saw two lionesses cracking open a warthog. A jackal lingered, hopeful for leftovers, but he didn’t get a look-in as one lioness led five cubs to lunch. From the top of Engitati Hill, we watched a lone elephant trample through a swamp. Perhaps the spot of the day was one of Tanzania’s endangered black rhinos, viewed through binoculars, a tonne of thick body and prized horn ambling through sage brush… (22 January 2017)
The East African (Kenya): Plans for new radar systems to be installed at Julius Nyerere International Airport, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya and Mwanza airports to enhance surveillance of Tanzanian airspace are underway. The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) expects the new radar systems to enhance the safety of Tanzania airspace and also parts of neighbouring states’ airspaces. A boost in income generated from various fees paid by airlines using the service is also expected. TCAA said the aim of the installation is to make civil aviation contribute more to the Tanzanian economy as well as match with global industry growth and needs.
The East African (Kenya): Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali are all experiencing water shortages. These major cities in East Africa are struggling to supply their growing populations with water from dilapidated distribution networks that depend on unreliable water sources. In the case of Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, 40 percent of its 4.5 million population depend on alternative water sources outside of the city’s supply for their needs. Dar es Salaam needs 450,000 cubic metres of water per day, according to a report by the Water Irrigation Ministry. The completion of major projects recently in Ruvu Juu, and Ruvu Chini on the outskirts of the city has seen production increase to 504,000 cubic metres per day. However, inadequate infrastructure obstructs full access by residents, with various sections of the city experiencing rationing of between eight and 20 hours a day. An increase in water accessibility from 72 percent to 95 percent in 2020 by digging 20 wells in Kimbiji and Mpera on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam is planned by the city. These wells should have the capacity to produce 260,000 cubic metres of water per day.
The East African (Kenya): China has announced that it will prohibit trade in ivory by the end of 2017. Once implemented, this would close down the world’s biggest ivory market. This decision by China has come after years of growing international and domestic pressure. The extinction of certain elephant populations may also be averted. It has been estimated that more than 100,000 elephants have been killed in Africa over the past 10 years in the pursuit of ivory fuelled by Chinese demand. Wildlife researchers estimate 50-70 percent of all smuggled elephant ivory ends up in China. The success of the new policy depends on how strictly it is enforced. Paula Kahumbu, chief executive of the Kenyan conservation group WildlifeDirect, is suspicious of China’s motives and its commitment of fight the trade in ivory, believing that the Chinese are just buying good will.
Maji Maji Memorial in Songea
The East African (Kenya): The Maji Maji Uprising of 1905 is an important date in Tanzanian history. February 27 has been marked out by the people of Songea in southern Tanzania as a Memorial Day for the leaders of the Uprising who were executed on this day by the German colonialists. African resistance to German rule was fought between 1905 and 1907. The Maji Maji Rebellion features in historical records for the strategy and organisation of African fighters who believed in the superiority of their mystical powers against a heavily armed German force. African leaders, such as Abushiri of the Pangani, Mkwawa of the Uhehe and Sina of Moshi began the resistance as early as July 1905, breaking out in the Matumbi Hills, northwest of Kilwa. A museum can be found in the Songea district, Ruvuma Region, which houses the Maji Maji war memorial. Songea derived its name from Songea Lwafu Mbano, a Ngoni who led the resistance. Chief Songea Mbano was tortured to death. Close to Songea city centre are the gallows at Mathenge Mashujaa village where Ngoni fighters were hanged. Adjacent to the gallows is a raised stone with a plaque inscribed with the names of the dead. There are 33 names of chiefs, sub-chiefs, headmen and ordinary citizens. At the museum entrance in Mathenge village, a welcome sign reads “Karibu Makumbusho Ya Maji Maji” (welcome to the Maji Maji Memorial site). The Maji Maji exhibition includes photographs that tell the story of one of the root causes of the uprising. For instance, for transport, the Germans used African men to carry them around in hammocks.
Celebrating a Bard: Burn’s Supper in Dar
The East African (Kenya): The tradition of celebrating the great Scottish poet Robert Burns takes place all over the world, and so it comes as no surprise to hear of celebrations taking place in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, hosted by the Caledonian Society of Tanzania. The event was held at the Little Theatre in Msasani, Dar es Salaam. Scots turned up in their traditional dress: woollen kilts and multi-buttoned jackets. There was dancing and a generous supply of Scotch whiskeys. A special troupe of pipers from South Africa, all in Scottish traditional dress, played Scottish tunes, and poets recited Burn’s poems. In keeping with such an event, the arrival of the haggis was the star attraction as guests stand and cheer as it is brought in by a procession comprising of the chef, pipers and someone bearing the whiskey, who in this case was Serengeti’s chief executive Helene Weesie.
Tanzania to purge ‘the homosexual syndicate’
The Times (UK). Extract: The Tanzanian government has threatened to publish a list of gay men who are allegedly selling sex online. The warning comes as part of a clampdown on homosexuality since the authoritarian President Magufuli came to power in late 2015… “I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Mr [Hamisi] Kigwangalla [deputy health minister] wrote on Twitter… Homosexuals face life imprisonment but the sentence was rarely enforced until Mr Magufuli took office. While the president has made no public statements on homosexuality, there has been an increase in anti-gay rhetoric. Some ministers have made moves against organisations they say were promoting the practice… Paul Makonda, the governor of Dar es Salaam … said that he would arrest anyone linked to gay people on the internet. “If there’s a homosexual who has a Facebook account or with an Instagram account, all those who ‘follow’ him—it is very clear that they are just as guilty as the homosexual,” he said. (20 February 2017)
Singing Wells Project: Making Tanzania’s folk music great again
Music In Africa Foundation (Johannesburg—online). Extract: The Singing Wells Project (SWP), a collaboration between a London-based record label, Abubilla Music and Kenya’s Ketebul Music has pitched camp in Tanzania this year, seeking to identify, preserve and promote traditional music… They have identified 11 music groups and solo artists from three communities, the Kwere, Zaramo and Gogo. The recordings will cover a range of folk music genres, from vanga to mdundiko, godo, shiranga, mdomole and bingilia. They also intend to revive the memory of the famous Ngoni drummer, the late Mzee Morris Nyunyusa, who, despite being blind, made memorable compositions, some still played by Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation as their signature tunes… (25 January 2017)
Tanzanian broadcaster suspends staff for publishing fake news about Donald Trump
Newsweek (USA—online). Extract: A public broadcaster in Tanzania has suspended nine of its workers after it ran a fake news story … The article claimed that Trump had praised President John Magufuli, who came to power in Tanzania in 2015 and has sought to crack down on public sector corruption. The article claimed that Trump eulogized Magufuli as an “African hero” and “my namesake”—Trump’s middle name is John—whose performance far exceeds other African leaders, who were “doing nothing.” … (15 March 2017)
Duolingo’s Luis Von Ahn on How the Language App Added Africa to the Mix
Time magazine (USA). Extract: Luis Von Ahn[‘s] simple idea to take on the Rosetta Stones, Berlitzs and Pimsleurs of the world with an addictive, video-game-like app is changing how we think about learning languages. And now, for the first time, Duolingo is adding an African language to its 68-course lineup: Swahili, the lingua franca of eastern Africa. “We started looking around and realized that we are teaching almost every European language you can think of, but we had no African languages,” says Van Ahn, who spoke to TIME while at the Design Indaba in Cape Town … (3 March 2017)