by Donovan McGrath
Lions kill three children near Tanzania wildlife reserve
(Guardian online – UK) Youngsters went to look for cattle near Ngorongoro conservation area … Extract continues: The youngsters, aged between nine and 11, had arrived home from school … and gone into the forest near the Ngorongoro conservation area to search for [lost cattle], Arusha police chief, Justine Masejo, said. “That is when the lions attacked and killed three children, while injuring one,” he said … Ngorongoro in northern Tanzania is a world heritage site that is home to wildlife including big cats such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. “I would like to urge the nomadic communities around the reserved areas to take precautions against fierce animals especially when they task their children to take care of the livestock. That will help protect children and their families,” Masejo said. Tanzania allows some communities such as the Maasai, who graze their livestock alongside wild animals, to live within national parks… (5 August 2021)
Petra Diamonds pays £4.3m to Tanzanians ‘abused’ by its contractors
(Guardian online – UK) Firm settles over allegations claimants were shot, stabbed and beaten by guards at mine that produced one of Queen’s favourite gems. Extract continues: … The 71 Tanzanian claimants, represented in the London high court by the British law firm Leigh Day, alleged grave violations by the company … The abuses were allegedly carried out by security personnel contracted by Petra’s local subsidiary, Williamson Diamonds Ltd, which has a majority share of the mine, and by Tanzanian police who worked at and around the mine… In a statement, the London Stock Exchange-listed company, which says it is an “ethical diamond seller”, noted that it had appointed a new security contractor, closed the on-site lock-up where the UK corporate watchdog Rights and Accountability in Development (Raid) claimed to have found evidence that local residents had been detained and beaten, and launched an independent grievance mechanism to resolve future complaints transparently and quickly. The company said it would also fund community projects and establish a medical support programme. “Petra acknowledges that past incidents have taken place that regrettably result in the loss of life, injury and mistreatment of illegal diggers,” the statement said. “The agreement reached with the claimants, combined with the other actions put in place, are aimed at providing redress and preventing the possibility of future incidents.” Petra had agreed the settlement on the basis of “no admission of liability”, it said. George Joseph Bwisige, leader of a group seeking compensation for abuses at the mine, said: “I have been waiting a long time for Petra Diamonds to recognise what its operations did to me and fellow members of my community.” Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director of Raid, said: “Petra Diamonds should allow effective independent monitoring of the security and human rights situation going forward. Without this, it will be hard to have faith that the company has truly changed its ways.” (18 May 2021)
Tanzanian MPs demand apology for ‘tight’ trousers incident
(BBC News online – UK) Female MPs in Tanzania have called for an apology to an MP who was ordered to leave parliament because of her trousers. Extract continues: A male MP said the way some women dressed invited ridicule to parliament. “Mr Speaker, an example there is my sister seated on my right with a yellow shirt. Look at the trousers she has worn, Mr Speaker!” Hussein Amar said in parliament … The Speaker then ordered the MP, Condester Sichwale, to leave. “Go dress up well, and then join us back later,” said the Speaker Job Ndugai. He added that this was not the first complaint he had received about female Member of Parliaments’ attire, and told chamber orderlies to deny entry to anyone who was inappropriately dressed. While Mr Amar did not elaborate on what he found wrong with Ms Sichwale’s outfit, he quoted the parliamentary rules which allow women to wear trousers but stipulate that clothes should not be tight-fitting… (2 June 2021)
‘It could have been made this morning!’ Incredibly well-preserved hoof prints left two million years ago in volcanic ash by prehistoric antelope or gazelle are discovered in Tanzania
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: Researchers from Heriot-Watt University have found three well-defined, albeit ancient, animal foot prints in Tanzania that are believed to be almost two-million years old. The animals left hoof prints on what was then fresh ash from a volcanic eruption some 1.8 million years ago. It’s believed the fossilized footprints were made by either a prehistoric antelope or gazelle. The discoveries were made in the Olduvai Gorge in Northern Tanzania, an area that has been ripe for discovering evidence of ancient human ancestors. The three tracks are approximately 7 centimetres (2.8 inches) in length and according to the study’s lead author, Tessa Plint, they were stumbled upon by accident. ‘We weren’t there to prospect for fossil tracks, so finding them was 100 percent a matter of looking down in the right place at the right time! It was a very exciting moment,’ Plint said in a statement. The fossilized footprints are in such great detail because they were made in very fine volcanic ash, the study’s co-author, Clayton McGill, added. ‘One of the tracks is preserved in stunning detail, it’s so crisp and clear, it looks like it could have been made the morning we found it.’ … (23 June 2021)
Mrs Livingstone, I presume? Her husband took the credit for exploring deepest Africa. But, as a major new exhibition reveals, it was all thanks to his even more fearless wife (Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: For generations, the people of Tabora in what is now Tanzania told stories of the legendary Scottish explorer, Christian missionary and anti-slavery hero, Dr David Livingstone. How, in 1855, he had discovered a spectacular waterfall which he named ‘Victoria Falls’, and subsequently reached the mouth of the Zambezi on the Indian Ocean to become the first European to cross the width of southern Africa. ‘Livingstone was like a man that had three wives, and yet none of them were women,’ they liked to say. ‘One was a river. The river they call the Nile. The second was the struggle against slavery. The third, religion.’ But there was also a real wife, whom Livingstone once described in a letter to a friend as ‘a little thick-black-haired girl, sturdy and all I want’; and, to another, as ‘like an Irish manufactory’ in her ability to produce children. Mary Moffatt, however, was far, far more than that. She was strong, educated, fearless, spoke six African languages and was a seasoned traveller. Crucially, as the daughter of missionaries, she was renowned in South Africa. In fact, it was her father, Robert Moffatt, famed translator of the Bible into Setswana (spoken in Botswana and South Africa), who inspired Livingstone to become a missionary in the first place. So it was Mary who, in remote areas, opened doors for her singularly driven husband with her languages and connections. And Mary to whom tribal leaders would often insist on addressing first… So what a shame this amazing woman—once described as ‘Livingstone’s greatest asset’—was all but wiped from the annals of history by macho biographers. [W]hen the David Livingstone Birthplace museum in Lanarkshire reopens … after a £9.1 million revamp, Mary’s contribution will finally be given due credit. As Dr Kate Simpson, a Glasgow University academic and museum trustee, puts it: ‘She was determined and independent and had a rod of iron. She did everything Livingstone did, and a lot more. Such as keeping house, producing baby after baby, running a school—as well as being the first European woman to cross the Kalahari Desert… Some tribal leaders refused to speak to [Livingstone], unless Mary was present. So when, in 1849, he set off on a 1,500-mile trek across the Kalahari, she went too—pregnant and with three children in tow… (23 June 2021)
East Africa’s ‘lucrative’ conversion therapy industry
(Mail & Guardian online – South Africa) Extract: Hospitals and clinics across East Africa have offered or provided referrals for controversial ‘anti-gay’ therapies to ‘change’ individuals’ sexuality, according to a six-month special investigation coordinated by openDemocracy. More than 50 LGBT people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda described their own experiences of what is often called ‘conversion therapy’ – including electric shocks and hormone ‘therapy’ – to local researchers working with openDemocracy. In addition, openDemocracy undercover reporters identified 12 health centres across the three countries – including those that specifically seek to reach gay men with health services – where staff offered help to “quit” same-sex attraction. In Uganda, our reporters who visited three hospitals were told that being gay is “evil”, something “for whites” and a mental health problem; and for a 17 year old gay boy, to try “exposure therapy” with “a housemaid [he] can get attracted [to]”; and to give a gay teenager a sleeping pill to prevent him from masturbating… Efforts to ‘cure’ homosexuality are “inherently degrading and discriminatory” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Africa director at the International Commission of Jurists human rights organisation, in response to openDemocracy’s findings. But they are “a lucrative business opportunity for individuals and organisations who are profiting out of humiliating, demeaning and discriminatory actions,” she said. In many cases, openDemocracy found people asked for payment for such ‘therapy’… Three countries – Brazil, Ecuador and Malta – have banned these practices, while Germany has banned them when applied to minors. The UK government has also recently committed to banning ‘conversion therapy’… Anal sex is criminalised – and punishable with prison sentences – in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Uganda’s recently passed sexual offences bill more broadly bans “sexual acts between persons of the same gender”, but it is not yet law… (7 July 2021)
Development is for and of people; it cannot be inflicted on people
(East African online – Kenya) This article by Jenerali Ulimwengu is in the form of a letter addressed to ‘Julius’. It was summarised in the question: ‘Was the price of this “development” to be measured in the zombification of parliament, the neutering of the Press, the killing of the still fragile systems of accountability and the imposition of a culture of opacity wherein the president became the chief procurement authority? Extract: I thank you for your views about how I have been writing about the late John Pombe Magufuli and I think your views are not only sound but also shared by many people in Tanzania and Kenya, and even beyond. Please understand me. I don’t intend to claim JPM did nothing good. I would be blind and deaf if I did. All I’m saying, as with any one of his predecessors, is that a lot of what every elected official claims to have achieved usually falls within the purview of what he asked his people to allow him to do and, in most cases, what he is charged with doing constitutionally.
But, think about this: If you employ a gardener to set up your orchard and he does a good job of it, is that a reason for not reprimanding him if in so doing he runs your water bill through the roof, or he demolishes part of your house, or plants some shrubs you have no interest in, or tells you to shut up while he is working because you are disturbing him? Think about it.
Tanzania is a nation in the making, it is not a construction site. The type of building she needs is that of an ethos of love, solidarity and empathy, not that of a bulldozer. Our people are not granite, iron bars and aggregates. They deserve to be treated with empathy, to be listened to and consulted continually. ‘Development’ speaks of the amelioration of the lives of the people, and as such it cannot be inflicted on a people, or it will be rejected. Concrete structures will crumble with time, but the human spirit, carefully nurtured and nourished, will survive the test of time.
Let me ask you a couple of things about the projects you laud so much: Supposing all these projects were really great, and even supposing they did not include Air Tanzania, which is stillborn, are they in any way worth the wanton killing of innocent Tanzanians? Was Azory Gwanda the price we were supposed to pay for this type of bizarre ‘development’? Or Akwilina? Or Ben Sanane? Or the sixteen bullets that hit Tundu Lissu while attending parliament?
Was the right price for this ‘paradise’ the silencing of any voice of dissent, the proliferation of trumped-up charges against government critics and the turning of the Judiciary into a pack of lap dogs? It is most strange that the man who claimed to fight corruption should be the same man who fought transparency and promoted opacity in governance structures, such as parliament, the office of the controller-and-auditor general, and the press. For anyone who is determined to fight corruption these should be the first-line allies and partners, but Magufuli saw them as enemies.
There is a simple rule of thumb here: greater transparency, less corruption; greater opacity, more corruption. That is the way our rulers must be judged. I am not superstitious, and do not believe that one man can single-handedly fight corruption.
You state that maybe the man had too much self-confidence. I may agree with that, only adding that this kind of self-belief borders on the delusionary, and may suggest a difficulty in relating to reality as lived by ordinary mortals, which should call into question our ability to lead others. I will grant that Magufuli was passionate about building structures, but in my heart of hearts I cannot agree that this was his role as top leader of his people; he chose the wrong things to build and ended up looking like a site foreman rather than a builder of a national ethos… (29 April 2021) Thanks to Elsbeth Court for this item – Editor