TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

by Donovan McGrath

Tanzania caught in a spiral

Fishermen pull up the nets in waters off Dar es Salaam in September 2018. Photo: Peter Caton/The Observer


(Guardian UK) Illegal operations and overfishing are taking a toll despite rich seas. Extract continues: .. According to global species database FishBase, Tanzania has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds … Tanzania should not need to import fish, but overfishing is depleting stocks, rais­ing prices and threatening food security. “It is a disgrace for a country like Tanzania to import fish, while there are plenty of species that could meet fish demand in the country,” says Abdullah Ulega, deputy minister for livestock and fisheries. Despite the number of fishing boats increasing by nearly 20% in five years to 66,000, the country recorded a sharp decline in catches, from 390,000 tonnes a year on average, to 360,000 tonnes in 2017, says the government… Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by artisan, commercial and deep-sea fishing is thought to be taking as much as 20% of the country’s fish, costing the economy $400m a year, says the UN… The easiest method used by illegal fishers is “blast fishing”, using dynamite or homemade bottle bombs made from fertiliser and kerosene. A single explosion can kill as much as 400kg of fish in a radius of 30.4 metres, worth up to $1,800, but will also destroy the reef. California-based conservationist group Sea Shepherd Global is now working with Tanzanian government agencies to patrol Indian Ocean waters with a new 55km/h cutter-class ship, the Ocean Warrior… (21 September 2018) Thanks to Rev J R & Mrs M W Bowen for this item

‘It’s God’s plant’ – the man who dreams of chickens
(Guardian Weekly UK) A US mega-farm, a Christian backer and an industrial producer are trying to reform central Africa’s food market. Extract continues:
… Tyson, the world’s second-largest food company, has set up with Irvine’s, Africa’s oldest industrial chicken producer. With the backing of a devout Christian businessman, Donnie Smith, the three partners aim to revolutionise food production in Central Africa and “save” people from hunger by growing chickens on an American scale… “Why Africa? The need is tremendous. I have travelled in sub-Saharan Africa and in the largest population centres you see fairly rapid progress, but [not] in rural areas. All my experience tells me that God wants me to work in Africa,” [says Smith]… Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for unchecked corporate concentration and the pollution and potential animal welfare problems that have plagued production in Europe and the US? Yes, says the Tanzanian government, which struggles to feed its fast-urbanising population and is a target for chicken imports from Europe and Brazil. . . “Definitely we are ready,” says Rose Sweya, a young Dar es Salaam chicken farmer who is eager to buy thousands of Donnie’s day-old Cobbs to fatten up. Her company, Kingchick, is investing heavily in four poultry farms and a processing plant… (11 January 2019) Thanks to Rev J R & Mrs M W Bowen for this item

Why is an African chief’s skull mentioned in the Versailles Treaty?
(BBC UK – online) Extract: The Treaty of Versailles, signed exactly a century ago, reshaped Europe in the wake of World War One. So why, within its many hundreds of clauses, does the treaty refer to the decapi­tated head of an African anti-colonial hero? Extract continues: Chief Mkwawa’s skull now sits on a plinth, protected by a glass box, in a tiny museum in a small town in central Tanzania. But like a trophy, it once adorned the house of a colonial official in Germany’s administrative centre in Bagamoyo, before being spirited away to Germany at some point at the beginning of the 20th Century. The skull was used as a sym­bol to intimidate the Wahehe people, who the chief had led in a fierce rebellion against the German colonisers. So successful was his campaign in the 1890s that a bounty was put on his head by the Germans. He is believed to have taken his own life in 1898, rather than submit to the humiliation of being captured, as he sheltered in a cave that was encircled by German soldiers… The Treaty of Versailles … detailed the reparations Germany had to pay for starting the conflict … And so under a section headed “special provisions” and sandwiched between demands from France and Belgium sits article 246: “Within six months. . . Germany will hand over to His Britannic Majesty’s Government the skull of the Sultan Mkwawa, which was removed from the Protectorate of German East Africa and taken to Germany.” However, the skull was not returned within six months – it took another 35 years for this to happen… At the ceremony that saw the return of the skull to Kalenga, [British governor Edward] Twining did not dwell on the chief’s anti­colonial credentials, instead speaking of honour being restored and how he felt the skull had come back to the Wahehe as a source of protection. But then he struck his bargain: “I hope too that you and your people will continue to give your unstinted loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors.” For Twining that loyalty extended to fighting in Britain’s colonial force known as the King’s African Rifles (KAR) – a military and security unit that was recruited from East Africa… While at one time colonialists may have hoped Chief Mkwawa’s skull would help curry favour, it served as a symbol for an independent and proud Tanzania – and still sits in its own museum in Kalenga… (28 June 2019)

Tanzania’s President Magufuli shops with basket after plastic bag ban
(BBC UK – online) Extract: Tanzanian President John Magufuli has made a surprise visit to a fish market sporting a wicker basket in a move to support a new plastic ban. It is unusual for a man to carry a shopping basket in Tanzania, especially someone of the president’s status. His defiance of convention is likely to give more weight to the ban … Those found with plastic bags now face fines of up to $87 (£68) or up to seven days in jail, local media reports. For anyone caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags, the fine could be $430,000 or up to two years in prison. Tanzania is one of more than 30 African countries to have brought in a ban on single-use plastic. Travellers arriving in Tanzania – a tourist hotspot – are now being asked to surrender plastic bags at the airport… “In a few years time the country will be safe from the effects of plastic bags,” the president said… (4 June 2019)


Tanzania row over wig and hair extension tax

(BBC UK – online) Extract: A row has broken out in Tanzania over the government’s decision to impose a tax on wigs and hair extensions. Many male and some female MPs applauded and thumped their desks in approval when Finance Minister Philip Mpango announced the tax in parliament. Supporters of the levy say it will help women keep their hair natural. But there has also been public outrage, with women say­ing they are being punished for wanting to look good in wigs and hair extensions. Tanzanians tend to uphold traditional values, but society is changing and many women now wear wigs and extensions … In his budget speech in parliament … Mr Mpango announced a 25% tax on imported wigs and hair extensions and a 10% tax on those made locally as part of a series of measures aimed at increasing government revenue… Mr Mpango also scrapped the exemption on value added tax placed on sanitary towels, saying consumers had not benefited as businesses did not reduce prices when it was introduced. Opposition MP Upendo Peneza said she would campaign against the removal of the exemption, adding that the government should push businesses to lower their prices… (14 June 2019)

Murder, rape and claims of contamination at a Tanzanian goldmine
(Guardian UK – online) Police and guards at North Mara have been accused of killing dozens — possibly hundreds — of locals. Extract continues: When safari tourists drive to the Serengeti national park in Tanzania, few realise they are passing one of the world’s most conten­tious goldmines… Welcome to North Mara, one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, which since 2006 has been operated by London-listed Acacia Mining and predominantly owned by the world’s biggest goldmining company, Barrick, a Toronto-based firm that holds a 63.9% stake. For the past two decades, this mine has been a place of danger, extreme violence and allegations of environmental contamination. Although Tanzania is nominally at peace, over the years police and security guards have been accused of killing dozens — possibly hundreds — of local people, injuring many more and raping countless women. There have also been reports of contamination from mining chemicals, but journalists and human rights activists who have tried to investigate these cases have sometimes found themselves the subject of intimida­tion, harassment and even threats of deportation from police and state authorities. Acacia says it is not involved in any crackdown on the media and it promotes transparency. Since a legal challenge in 2015, the company has worked with authorities to improve the human rights situation. It erected walls in some areas, enhanced staff training, and put in place a grievance system. But an investigation by the Guardian and its partners in the Forbidden Stories journalism collective has been told violence continues — albeit at a lower level — while the health prob­lems associated with possible chemical pollution remain a concern… (18 June 2019)

‘It could change everything’: coin found off northern Australia may be from pre-1400 Africa
(Guardian UK – online) Experts believe they may have found a Kilwa coin that could change what we know about the history of global trade. Extract continues: … [B]usy I-Med radiology clinic in Darwin is shiny and quiet … But then an archaeologist and a historian turn up, bringing with them a curious patient whose identity is unknown, but who may be 1,000 years old and could rewrite Australian history. The “patient” is a small copper coin found by archaeologist Mike Hermes on a field trip to the Wessel Islands, off north-east Arnhem Land, last year. He believes it to be a coin from Kilwa, more than 10,000km away in what is now known as Tanzania, dating from before the 15th century… [T]he find was no accident. The Past Masters [a group of historians, archae­ologists, anthropologists, numismatists (coin experts), geochronologists and other experts who investigate historical anomalies] were following the path of Morry Isenberg, an RAAF radar operator who discovered five Kilwa coins when he was stationed briefly on nearby Marchinbar Island in 1945. Isenberg rediscovered the coins stashed away in a match­box tin 40 years later, and they were handed over to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney… How the coins got to this part of the world is a … perplexing mystery. “Kilwa coins have only been found in Kilwa, the Arabian peninsula and the Wessel Islands,” Hermes says. “It is a puzzling distribution.” [Historian Mike] Owen offers a few theories. It could indicate contact between Indigenous Australians and traders from Kilwa 700 years ago. The Wessel Islands were probably not the intended destination for the coins. There was trade between Kilwa and China, and possibly those traders were blown off course or escaping from pirates. Perhaps there was a shipwreck. But he says the most likely scenario is that the Portuguese, who looted Kilwa in 1505, went on to set foot on Australian shores, bringing the coins with them. “The Portuguese were in Timor in 1514, 1515 — to think they didn’t go three more days east with the monsoon wind is ludicrous,” Hermes says. So what does the potential discovery of a coin minted 500 years before James Cook’s arrival, and more than 300 years before the Dutch, mean for the pre-European history of Australia? Numismatist Peter Lane says if this is a Kilwa coin, it adds an interesting dimension to Australia’s early history… (11 May 2019)

President Urges Tanzania’s Women to ‘Set Ovaries Free’, Have More Babies to Boost Economy
(New York Times USA – online) Extract: … “When you have a big popula­tion you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” [President John Magufuli] said … citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend. “I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he told a gather­ing in his home town of Chato. Since taking office in 2015, Magufuli has launched an industrialization campaign that has helped buoy economic growth, which has averaged 6.7% annually in recent years. But he has said a higher birth rate would achieve faster progress… UNFPA [U.N. population fund] says about a third of married women in Tanzania use contraceptives, but Magufuli has criticized Western-backed fam­ily planning programs implemented by the health ministry. Last year, Magufuli said curbing the birth rate was “for those too lazy to take care of their children”, and the health ministry barred broadcasting of family planning ads by a U.S.-funded project. While Tanzania’s poverty rate
– people living on less than $1 a day – has declined to about 26% as of 2016, the absolute number of poor citizens has not because of the high population growth rate, according to the World Bank. Opposition lead­ers in Tanzania have criticized Magufuli’s stance, saying the country’s already rapid population growth is a time bomb … (10 July 2019)

Tanzania Says Does Not Know Whether Missing Journalist Is Dead or Alive
(New York Times USA – online) Extract: Tanzania does not know whether a missing journalist who disappeared two years ago while investigating a series of murders of police and ruling party officials is dead or alive, the country’s foreign minister was quoted . . . as saying. Activists have cited Azory Gwanda’s disappearance as a sign of worsening conditions for journalists under President John Magufuli’s government, which they accuse of cracking down on press freedom by suspending newspapers. The government denies the allegations. . . New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has accused the Tanzanian government of failing to launch a credible investigation into Gwanda’s fate after he disap­peared on November 21, 2017… (11 July 2019)

A fish called Wakanda: New purple fish honours ‘Black Panther’

Wakanda fish


(CNN USA – online) Extract: Although the nation of Wakanda exists only in the Marvel Comics universe, where it is superhero Black Panther’s home, researchers believe they have found a version of it underwater. And here, 260 feet below the surface in secretive reefs, the warriors accented with vibrant purple are fish. Previously unknown, the fish species lives in dark coral reefs, called “Twilight Zone” reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. The fish are known as fairy wrasses… Their scales are so deeply pigmented that the deep purple remains during the preservation process, when colour is usually lost. The fish were discovered by scientists participating in the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs initiative, which aims to research and restore coral reef systems… The fish were named Cirrhilabrus wakanda, or the vibranium fairy wrasse, in honour of Wakanda and “Black Panther.” “When we thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, we knew we had to name this new species after Wakanda,” said Yi-Kai Tea, lead author of the new study and an ichthyology Ph.D. student from the University of Sydney… Up close, the pattern of the scales reminded the scientists of Black Panther’s vibranium suit and even the fabric worn by Wakandans in the “Black Panther” film… (11 July 2019)

Tanzania scolds US for alert warning of rumours of attacks
(AP News USA – online) Extract: Tanzania’s government has scolded the United States for issuing a terror alert warning American citizens about rumours of impending attacks in an area of Dar es Salaam popular with foreigners. A foreign ministry statement … says the alert created panic among some members of the public. It reminded the U.S. of “the importance of observing international diplomacy procedures.” … (21 June 2019)

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