by Ben Taylor

Drip irrigation system in Tanzania -favoured due to less wastage than traditional sprinkler systems – Food Ethics Council/ACE Africa

Survey report reveals obstacles to greater agricultural production
A new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has identified five key obstacles to agricultural productivity in Tanzania. The report, the National Sample Census of Agriculture 2019/20, named the issues as limited access to extension services, slow implementation of irrigation systems, low use of fertilizers, low use of improved seeds as well as underdeveloped mechanization.

It was revealed that only 5.2% of farmers practised irrigation farming in Tanzania, fertilisers were applied to 20% of cultivated land and 20% of land was cultivated with improved seeds. Hand tools (95%) and draft animals (26.5%) are used on much more cultivated land than tractors and power tillers (10.2%). And just 7% of crop-growing households received any advice from agricultural extension services, down from 67% a decade earlier.

Although use of irrigation has increased compared to a decade ago, the pace of growth remains slow. The report adds that investment in irrigation infrastructure is critically important for the agricultural trans­formation that will be required to adapt effectively to climate change.

Speaking at the report launch, agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda acknowledged that productivity in the sector is still a major hurdle that limits farmers’ earnings and their contribution to the national economy.

He said the contribution of the crop sub-sector to the national’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is low at 15.4%, while in total the agriculture sector contribution is also not satisfactory at 26.9%. Livestock contributed 7.1%, fisheries 1.7% and forests 2.7% to GDP.

65.3% of households in Tanzania are involved in some form of agricultural production. It is the main source of income for approximately 36% of households.

In the twelve years since the previous such survey, the number of households engaged in agriculture rose by 34% to 7.8 million, while the overall national population rose by 40% over the same period.

Government priorities in agriculture
The ministry of Agriculture outlined seven areas the government will prioritise in the 2021/22 financial year to boost growth of the agriculture sector. These are research, seed development, extension services, increasing the amount of land under irrigation, strengthening markets for agricultural crops, improving access to inexpensive loans for financing agricultural investments, and improving preparedness against invasion of pests and crop diseases.

Agriculture minister Adolf Mkenda outlined the priorities in the Parliament in Dodoma when tabling his ministry’s budget for 2021/22. He said this was prepared based on the Five Year National Development Plan endorsed by Parliament in February and the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025, as well as the instructions issued by President Samia Suluhu Hassan issued in her maiden speech in Parliament.

In her speech, President Hassan said inefficiency was the main challenge facing the country’s agriculture, pledging that investment in the area will be made in the next five years to improve productivity.

The agriculture budget comes to TSh 294 bn, a 28% increase compared to the previous financial year. It includes TSh 3bn for increasing the country’s capacity to fight invasive pests and birds such as the desert locusts, including the purchase of new aircraft for this purpose. Extension services also see a major increase, from under TSh 1bn a year earlier to almost TSh 12bn this year.

While these increases did on balance attract praise from MP and commentators, an article in the (government-owned) Daily News, highlighted that the Kenyan government had allocated around five times as much to agriculture as Tanzania had done. For comparison, Kenya’s GDP and national budget are roughly 50% and 65% higher respectively than in Tanzania.

Avocados – the new green gold?
Close to 9,000 tonnes valued at $30 million were exported from Tanzania in 2020, up from almost zero seven years ago, driven in large part by increasing global demand.

Demand for Tanzanian avocados in particular is said to be higher due to the high quality of the product. The leading markets for avocados from Tanzania are the Netherlands and other European countries, South Africa, Dubai and other Gulf states. Recent years have also seen a big growth in demand from China and India.

It is estimated that over 10,000 farmers across the country are involved in avocado production. They produce an estimated 39,000 tonnes of the fruit each year, but only a quarter of this amount is exported.

Growth in demand has also led to sharp price increases. Farm-gate prices reportedly rose from TSh 450 per kg in 2014 to TSh 1,500 last year.

Commercial production of avocado has until very recently been concentrated in the southern highland regions, specifically Njombe District blessed with adequate water and cool conditions. This led to the construction of a state-of-the-art facility in Njombe where farmers can store their fresh produce and is also a hub to connect with buyers.

More recently, efforts are underway to encourage greater production in the northern regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro. These regions have relatively easy access to global markets due to the proximity of Kilimanjaro International Airport, which specialises in exporting fresh agricultural products.

Despite the growth, exports from neighbouring Kenya are many times higher than Tanzania, with around 68,000 tonnes exported annually to the international markets.


by Ben Taylor
Note: we are seeking a new contributor to take over this section of Tanzanian Affairs. If you are interested, please contact the editor.

New gold refineries in Mwanza and Geita
President Samia Suluhu Hassan officially inaugurated the Mwanza Precious Metal Refinery (MMPR) gold refinery on June 13, 2021.

The refinery, which cost TSh 12.2 billion, was built by the State Mining Corporation (Stamico) in partnership with Dubai’s Lozera Company. It has the capacity to process 480kg of minerals per day.

The inauguration ceremony of the factory was attended by residents of Mwanza city, government officials, political and religious leaders.

The Chief Executive of the factory, Anand Mohan thanked the government for the successful completion of construction of the factory and said it will contribute to the growth of the Tanzanian economy.

This followed the completion of Geita Gold Refinery, owned and built by Tanzanian investors, with the help of TSh 18.4bn financing facility from Tanzania’s Azania Bank. The modern gold refinery was built and designed to facilitate operations of all miners from the smallest artisanal one to the largest mining firms in the country.

Data released when the Minerals Minister Dotto Biteko visited the factory in May, shows that the refinery has the capacity of producing 440kg pure gold a day, purifying the minerals to the 99.99% purity.

“Currently, the mining sector contributes handsomely to Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but it’s been unfortunate that for a long time, gold from Tanzania faces a challenge of quality when it gets to the market and this is why we see the presence of this factory to be a step forward in the government’s initiatives to finding solutions to challenges facing the sector,” said the Minister.

He said the government placed a tender to look for a credible investor who would refine Tanzania’s gold in the year 2016. “34 companies came forward but none of them was able to meet the requirements. When we re-advertised the tender, 16 companies came forward and that was how we picked this investor and we went ahead and gave him the license,” he said.

The Julius Nyerere Hydropower project construction site on the occasion of a visit in August by Medard Kalemani, the Tanzanian Minister of Energy, accompanied by Assem Gazzer, his Egyptian counterpart.

Julius Nyerere Hydropower project
The government will spend TSh 1.4 trillion during the 2021-2022 financial year on the 2,115 Megawatts (MW) Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power Project at Stieglers’ Gorge, it was announced in Parliament in June. The money, requested by Energy Minister Medard Kalemani, is 59% of the entire amount that the ministry will spend in its budget for the 2021/2022 financial year.

Seeking MPs’ endorsement for the ministry’s TSh 2.4 trillion budget, Dr Kalemani said activities that will be implemented under the strategic project include; construction of diversion tunnels at the Rufiji River, building the main dam and spill-ways, construction of tunnels, power house and a switch yard. By May 2021, the project whose total cost is TSh 6.55 trillion, had already consumed TSh 2.49 trillion. According to the Minister, its completion was currently at around 52%.

During the coming financial year, the government will also continue with the implementation of a number of other power generation projects, including Ruhudji, Ramakali, Rusumo and extension of the 185MW Kinyerezi I among others. Other focus areas include the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects.

Dr Kalemani said the country’s power generation capacity has reached 1,605.85 MW, but is projected to reach 5,000MW by 2025, a surplus of 2,323MW over projected demand.

The plan was that the Julius Nyerere Dam would start being filled with water in November 2021 and start generating electricity by June 2022.

[For history of the project see TA120 TA121 TA124]

Large-scale solar power plant in Shinyanga
In Kishapu District, Shinyanga Region, TANESCO will implement the first large scale photo-voltaic (PV) Solar Power Plant of Tanzania. This plant will have a capacity of 50 MW and produce annually 91,600 MWh, in the same time reducing the emissions of greenhouse gas by 22,400 tCO2 eq.

The project has support from the French official aid agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), worth €130m. According to an AFD press release, the project represents “an important milestone for Tanzania towards a cleaner and sustainable energy supply and contributes to the necessary fight against climate change.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in Africa, solar PV is becoming the “new king” of electricity and is forecasted to be the fastest growing source of power generation in Africa by 2040.

Production based on solar has become one of the cheapest energy in the world with increasing performance. Modern PV plants are modular which makes them quick to install and easy to maintain. Operating costs are very low and environmental and social impacts are limited. The source of energy is of free and everlasting.

Solar plants can also contribute to the strategic independence and energy competitiveness of the country, mobilizing local resources and avoiding dependence on fluctuating hydrocarbon prices. Further, Solar PV power plants reconcile development and fight against climate change, producing far less emissions than coal or gas plants.

The challenge with solar power is managing intermittent supplies, with no producing capacity at night and reduced capacity in cloudy weather. The AFD support will include training for TANESCO teams in managing grids supplied by solar power.


by Philip Richards

Athletics at the Tokyo Olympics
Tanzania was represented at the Tokyo Olympic Games, held from July 23 to August 8 this year, by only three athletes, who unfortunately returned home without medals. It has been 40 years since the nation last stood on the podium (the Moscow 1980 Games when two silvers were won) and at that time Tanzania sent 41 athletes in total.

In Tokyo, all three athletes participated in the marathon. Alphonce Simbu was placed seventh in the men’s marathon (2:11:35) whilst Gabriel Gerald Geay did not finish the race, The third and only female Tanzanian athlete, Failuna Abdi Matanga (2:33:58) was placed 24th in the women’s race.

By contrast, other East African nations fared much better. Kenyan participants won four Gold, four Silver and two Bronze medals, while the Ugandans won two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze medal.

The obvious observation, echoed by the media (including The Citizen 17/8/21) is that this situation poses some “difficult questions”. Is there a coherent sports policy in the country and is it being implemented effectively, is there an effective funding mechanism for sports and do sports officials have the management capability to effectively identify and harness the talent in the country?

Clearly, short term expectations need to be managed, and hopes of success at the next Paris Games in three years’ time seem unlikely to be realised, but long term and focused investment in sport (other than football) is undoubtedly required.

Taifa Stars, the national men’s team, have climbed up six positions in the latest world rankings released by the Federation of International Football Association (reports Daily News 13/8/21)

The leap has been attributed to Taifa Stars recent victory over Malawi Flames. Under Danish coach Kim Poulsen, they emerged with a 2-0 victory. Though this was only an international friendly match, hopes are for further victories in official competitions.

The latest ranking places Taifa Stars 135th globally, 39th in Africa. As a comparison, Senegal are ranked number 1 in Africa and 21st globally. They now head to face Congo DR (ranked 65th) and Madagascar (97th) next month in the World Cup Qualifiers-Africa (WQA) on the road to the finals in Qatar in 2022.

Tanzania’s albinos set sights on Paralympics

People with albinism practice karate at a local club in Dar es Salaam – Xinhua/East Africa Today

Deogratias Ngonyani, a 33-year-old man with albinism, is a regular visitor to the karate training room at the Albinism Sports Club in the capital Dar es Salaam.

As well as keeping fit, he says his ambition is to participate in the Paralympic Games within the next five years, proving to the world that with determination, people with albinism could break through into international competition. The Club, which has 11 albino members, also provides opportunities to be coached and compete in football and athletics.

Mr Ngonyani was quoted as saying: “At the moment our chance of participating in international sports competition is very slim, and Tanzania’s albinos have never participated in such competitions”

Over the years, people in Tanzania with albinism have been subjected to discrimination and brutality, driven by the belief that their body parts possess and can transmit magical powers. However, the government has recently pledged to provide full protection of people with albinism by reinforcing their security; it was reported that Ummy Hamisi Nderiananga, the deputy minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for persons with disabilities, said people with albinism should feel safe because their protection remained the government’s priority agenda. (EA News)


by Rolf D. Baldus

Stiegler in camp (Source: Günter Kraus / Rolf D. Baldus)

A Gorge in Africa’s oldest and largest protected Area
The Tanzanian Government is building a large hydroelectric dam at a place called “Stiegler’s Gorge” in Southern Tanzania, where the mighty Rufiji river thunders through a narrow 100m deep gorge and over several kilometres of rapids. To the north is the newly proclaimed Nyerere National Park, while to the south lies the famous Selous Game Reserve, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 – a status that may be imperilled by the hydropower project. The man after whom the gorge was named – “Stiegler” – remained a mystery until recently.

Franz Stiegler goes to Africa
It was generally assumed that Stiegler had been a Swiss engineer who, at the beginning of the last century, examined the possibilities of constructing a bridge or a dam across the gorge and that he was killed by an elephant while hunting close to the gorge. Information from relatives of the man and some further research, however, has now shed light on this mysterious person and the events leading to his death.

Franz Stiegler was born in a village called Dießen on the Ammersee in Southern Germany around 1878. He became a civil engineer and emigrated to German East Africa in 1905 or in early 1906.

In 1905 the German colonial Government had started to construct the “Tanganyika Railway” (Central Line), which was to connect Dar es Salaam with Lake Tanganyika. Young Stiegler was employed as a surveyor starting in February 1907.

Map showing Franz Stiegler’s route in 1907/08 – Rolf D. Baldus

Later in that year he became the leader of the Rufiji Expedition. In July 1907 he camped at the Pangani Rapids on the Rufiji River – the place which now bears his name. On July 13th, 1907 he wrote in a card to his sister that a lion had attacked the camp and severely injured one of his African staff. Notwithstanding, he concludes: “It is a very nice trip.”

The expedition was to explore the river and the surrounding lands, conduct trigonometric and hydrological surveys, in particular take measurements of water flow and water levels. The colonial administration wanted to appraise the navigability of the Rufiji and the Kilombero (Ulanga) rivers. The viability of connecting Boma Ulanga (southern Kilombero Valley) by railway with the Central Line and with the lower Rufiji was another question.

On December 12th 1907 Stiegler camped at the Shuguli Falls, a very scenic spot where the Kilombero flows over a kilometre or so through a myriad of falls, ponds and ravines. He writes from there to his sister that he will continue from the falls up the Kilombero River to Boma Ulanga. Then he would unfortunately have to return to work on the railway again.

Stiegler was assisted by several local employees and at times by the German survey technician R. Pelz, who will later write in an obituary that Stiegler was “an example of a distinguished and fair-minded superior.”

Franz Stiegler came from a family of hunters, and he used the opportunities that the game-rich land offered, to hunt, not least to feed his party. He bought hunting licences, as his name can be found in the lists of licence-holders which were published every year in Official Gazette for German East Africa.

A deadly encounter with an elephant
On February 17, 1908, Stiegler camped 8 km away from Mberera Mountain. He was most probably on the way back to Morogoro. His local companions narrated later that he went hunting and wounded an elephant. The Deutsch Ostafrikanische Zeitung of April 11, 1908, gives this account: “The elephant … immediately attacked and flung a black man aside. Stiegler also jumped aside, but probably not fast enough, for he was seized by the elephant and hurled into the air. Death was instantaneous.” The body was taken to “Lugongeka’s village” the next morning and buried there. This village can be found on a German map of the time. From Shuguli it is 20 km up the Kilombero river on the south bank.

The place where Franz Stiegler met his fate is about 100 km direct distance south-west and upriver of the gorge which was later named after him.

The German and later the British colonial Governments continued to call the place Pangani Rapids. We find the term Stiegler’s Gorge first mentioned in the 1950´s. A tourist map of around 1970 uses the term too in connection with a lodge that seems to have existed on the high ground over the rapids. It remains a mystery who named the Gorge after Franz Stiegler and when.

The author wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Günter Kraus, a relative of Franz Stiegler, who provided indispensable information and to Mike Shand (University of Glasgow) for his assistance with the mapping.

Baldus, Rolf D. (Ed.): Wild Heart of Africa. The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. Johannesburg 2009.
Baldus, Rolf D. (2021) The End of the Game, in: Sports Afield, No.1 and


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)

Mary Moffat (WikiMedia)

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


by Martin Walsh

SEA LEVEL: A PORTRAIT OF ZANZIBAR. Sarah Markes. Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. 144 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-084-19-7. £27.00.

Sea Level book cover

I was very happy to be asked to review Sea Level: A Portrait of Zanzibar, as I had already seen wonderful glimpses of Sarah Markes’s work on Instagram, including the cover with its illustration of the iconic Old Dispensary on the seafront in Stone Town, Zanzibar. I lived and worked in Stone Town in the 1990s and saw the Old Dispensary being painstakingly brought back to life and splendour during its restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture after years of neglect. The Old Dispensary is an example of how a building can be saved but it also illustrates the richness and multi-cultural nature of Zanzibari architecture. It seems a very fitting choice for the cover of a book which has the message of conservation at its very heart.

Sea Level follows on from Street Level, an illustrated book on the cultural and architectural heritage of Dar es Salaam, where Sarah Markes recorded the vanishing city centre with snapshots of daily life there. Both an artist and designer, the author has worked widely in East and Southern Africa on awareness campaigns, educational and environmental issues. She documents the cultural and natural heritage of places through her art and in doing so, hopes not only to raise awareness of their value but also to promote the need for their conservation. She says:

“My main aim in creating this book was to celebrate and record glimpses of this unique and beautiful place, and thus help inspire interest in its preservation.”

The illustrations in Sea Level are structured around the eight wards of Stone Town. The featured buildings are numbered so that a visitor can explore the streets visiting the various points of interest, which are linked to a GPS position. I immediately wanted to set off on a walk following the routes through the different areas. From the iconic waterfront view of old palaces and mansions at Mizingani, the Art Deco cinemas to the bustling markets and caravanserai – all the buildings have a story to tell. There are beautiful detailed line drawings but the author also uses shadow layering of photographs offering hints and echoes. The streets are alive with people too, going about their business in the town, shopping, a kofia seller scrolling on his phone, the hubbub of the dhow harbour, men playing bao. There is movement and vibrancy here – nothing is static. Small photographs are also used to zoom in on particular details, cleverly highlighting a point or focusing on a particular theme – the latticework on a balcony or detail on a carved door.

We hear about the history of Stone Town from its original settlement of mud and wattle houses to the stone buildings that followed Seyyid Said’s establishment of his capital there. The five main architectural traditions are highlighted with the layers of history and settlement of different people. There are cultural details too with the kangas and textiles, the feral cats, the spices and street seats. The details are incredibly rich and layered and I loved the illustrations of the various street light covers from saucepans to bucket lids and hub-caps. There is also a section on the natural heritage of the island, the importance of the forests and the reefs and the threats they face.

This all gives us a feeling of the mood, the vibrancy and the colour of life in Zanzibar. The smells and sounds of the place leap off each page. We are aware of the history, the monsoon winds, the people and trade and different religions that all combined to make the island so unique. Sea Level transports you there with the smell of the cloves and the taste of the freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. It also gives hope for the future with a list of organisations and NGOs who are working to help communities through education, heritage conservation and sustainable development.

In her preface, Sarah Markes explains how she was inspired by the work of the late John da Silva, a historian and watercolour artist who was also a passionate advocate of the need to protect and preserve Stone Town. I knew John well and feel sure that he would be happy to see how well Sarah is continuing his work. Sea Level captures the vibrancy, cultural diversity and uniqueness of Zanzibar. Sarah Markes writes of her hope of fostering interest in the preservation of Stone Town and initiating a gathering and sharing of stories which will be an important record of life there. Every rainy season more and more of Zanzibar’s unique old buildings are lost after years without maintenance or concern for their preservation. The partial collapse of the House of Wonders on 25 December 2020 shows that even the most iconic of buildings is under threat. Sea Level is an important reminder of what can be lost and what needs to be done.

Bethan Rees Walton
Bethan Rees Walton lived in Zanzibar from 1990-1996 and is the author of Images of Zanzibar (1996) with Javed Jafferji. After returning to the UK to study an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, she now lives in Pembrokeshire and teaches yoga by the sea. She is currently writing a novel which is set in Zanzibar.

THE HISTORY OF KIZIBA AND ITS KINGS: A TRANSLATION OF AMAKURU GA KIZIBA NA ABAKAMA BAMU. F.X. Lwamgira (trans­lated by G.B. Kamanzi and edited by P.R. Schmidt). Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. xxxviii + 414 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-083-68-8. £35.00.

The History of Kiziba and its Kings is a very welcome addition to the literature on the Haya people, their culture, and their history. A translation of Amakuru ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu, a book by the Haya scholar and chief Franciscus X. Lwamgira published in 1949, this volume gives readers a fascinating account of the history of Kiziba, one of several kingdoms established by the Haya people in what is now the Kagera Region of Tanzania. A collection of painstakingly researched and assembled oral records, it tells the history of Kiziba primarily through stories of the reigns of its kings, from the foundation of the kingdom until the period shortly after the First World War.

The importance of a history told through Haya voices cannot be overstated. Those interested in the Haya people and their culture have often relied on texts produced by European or North American observers. Some of these, such as Bengt Sundkler’s Bara Bukoba (1980), are invaluable sources produced by individuals with an intimate knowledge of the Haya people, but they nevertheless represent a body of literature written by outsiders looking in. This book, by contrast, provides a platform for indigenous voices, and allows for a better sense of Haya understandings of their own history. Whilst these sorts of local histories are more common in other parts of East Africa, particularly in Uganda, this book represents a novel and exciting development in the English-language historiography of the Haya.

The History of Kiziba and its Kings provides readers with a picture of a complex society in which a dynamic, competitive political arena was tempered by a culture in which ritual and tradition played central roles. Whilst it is unavoidably a history concerned primarily with Haya elites, it nevertheless allows for an understanding of society and the region more generally. The importance of the kings’ mothers, of ritualistic drums, and of the Haya clan system, as well as the names of places and things, are just some of the many things these stories shed light on. Importantly, they also provide an account of the challenges faced by Haya society as a result of the introduction of Christianity and German colonial rule.

There is much to commend in Galasius B. Kamanzi’s translation of Lwamgira’s work. Firstly, and most obviously, he has done an impressive job of translating into English a sizeable and complex piece of scholarship from a now largely forgotten form of the Haya language. Haya dialects have changed significantly since Lwamgira first wrote his book, so those of us with an interest in Haya history are very lucky to have individuals like Kamanzi to make accessible sources of knowledge which would otherwise be closed to us.

However, perhaps more significantly, Kamanzi has also been careful not to lose the centrality of orality in Lwamgira’s history. The subtleties of oral narrative are well preserved in the English translation, with the rhythms, refrains and constructions of the epic poetry which has historically played an important role in Haya culture coming across very effectively. That these are narratives to be remembered, recited and performed is evident, and the effect is both captivating and engaging. To capture effectively oral history in a written medium is an achievement in itself; to manage it even in translation is particularly impressive. Indeed, readers of this book cannot help but reflect on the different ways of knowing and remembering that oral cultures can teach those of us who are more familiar with written forms of knowledge.

Finally, Peter R. Schmidt, the editor of this translation, deserves credit for his very informative introduction to this edition. The history of the Haya people and their kingdoms is complex and often difficult to trace with many of the sources available. A few spelling and grammatical errors aside, Schmidt does an admirable job of contextualising both this particular work and its author, and of introducing those who may be unfamiliar with the history of this region to the oral traditions which characterise it. Overall, The History of Kiziba and its Kings is a fascinating, important book which should be added to the reading list of anybody with an interest in Haya history and culture.

Nico Brice-Bennett
Nico Brice-Bennett is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, researching the history of religion and socio-political thought in Tanzania, particularly among the Chagga and Haya peoples. Nico grew up in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania before moving to the UK in 2012 to study for a BA in Ancient, Medieval and Modern History at the University of Durham. Following this, he undertook an MPhil in African Studies at the University of Cambridge, before moving to Edinburgh in 2017. His research places a particular focus on oral history, as well as on the history of regionally produced Swahili-language newspapers.

THE AMPHIBIANS OF THE TANZANIAN FORESTS. Michele Menegon, John Lyakurwa and Simon Loader. A freely downloadable visual guide, Version 1.0, December 2020. 202 pp. Available online at

This sumptuously illustrated photographic guide to the frogs and caecilians of Tanzania’s forests is a very welcome addition to the literature on the country’s amphibians and their wonderful variety. The authors’ introduction underlines just how incomplete our knowledge of this diversity is: they estimate that around half of Tanzania’s amphibians remain unknown. As for those associated with its forests,

“The book includes a total of 152 species, for 117 of them, description and name have been published in a scientific publication. Of these species 111 are Tanzanian endemics. For about 20 of these formally described species, ongoing studies suggests that more than one cryptic taxa are included under that one name. In addition, we include in this book a further 35 species which have no formal name or published scientific account but which published studies or ‘grey literature’ have demonstrated to be distinct from already known taxa.”

At the same time, many of these species, both described and undescribed, are severely threatened by deforestation and other impacts of human activity, not least of which is climate change. The authors rightly emphasise that amphibians should be treasured and protected for more than their immediate usefulness to people, however their social and economic value might be calculated. Amphibians are integral to the tangled web of life, every thread and connection of which demands our care and attention, including best efforts at conservation.

This book represents an important contribution to that undertaking, and I look forward to updated versions of the current pdf. Otherwise, it’s worth downloading for its glorious photographs alone. It’s pleasing to see that the introductory sections have also been translated into Swahili, an increasing trend in guidebooks of this kind. It’s a pity, though, that so many newly described amphibians are still being named after a privileged minority, just when calls for the decolonisation of nomenclature are beginning to be heard.

Martin Walsh
Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs and recently became a member of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of East African Natural History.

Also noticed:
HISTORIA YA KIZIBA NA WAFALME WAKE: Tafsiri ya Amakuru Ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu. F.X. Lwamgira (translated by G.B. Kamanzi and edited by P.R. Schmidt). Mkuki na Nyota, Dar es Salaam, 2020. 476 pp. (paperback). ISBN 978-9987-083-69-5. £35.00.

A Swahili translation of F.X. Lwamgira’s Amakuru ga Kiziba na Abakama Bamu (1949), the English translation of which (The History of Kiziba and its Kings) is reviewed by Nico Brice-Bennett above.

Both translations are available from the African Books Collective (ABC) at, as is Sarah Markes’ Sea Level: A Portrait of Zanzibar (reviewed here by Bethan Rees Walton) and the author’s earlier Street Level: A Collection of Drawings and Creative Writing Inspired by the Cultural and Architectural Heritage of Dar es Salaam (2011).

Readers may also like to peruse ABC’s current catalogue of books published in Swahili, which includes both fiction and non-fiction titles: see and Recent offerings include Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s autobiography, Mzee Rukhsa: Safari ya Maisha Yangu (2020), which we hope to review in a forth­coming issue.
Martin Walsh


by Ben Taylor

Former Finance Minister, Basil Mramba died at the age of 81 on Tuesday August, 2021 at Regency Hospital in Dar es Salaam while undergoing treatment. The family said he had been admitted at the facility with Covid-19 complications.
Basil Mramba was born in May 15, 1940, and was MP for Rombo constituency in Kilimanjaro region. He served in various position in the government including Mbeya Regional Commissioner (1995-2000), Minister of Finance (2001-2005) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2006-2008).
In July 2015, Mramba alongside former energy minister Daniel Yona was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of 11 counts of abuse of office and causing a TSh 11.7 billion loss to the government. They were released after serving six months and ordered to do community services while serving a suspended sentence for the remaining two years of their jail term.
In his time as Finance Minister under President Mkapa, Tanzania was undertaking major economic reforms aimed at transforming the country from a state-controlled economy to a private sector-led one. He played a key role in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank that eventually saw Tanzania being granted debt relief of $3 billion, reducing the country’s total external debt by 54%, and reducing the amount to be paid as interest on the loans.

Former Presidential candidate and Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Anna Mghwira, has died at the age of 62. Ms Mghwira was appointed as Kilimanjaro RC by the late President John Magufuli on June 03, 2017. Before that she had been the ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidate in the 2015 General Election.
Anna Mghwira was born in Singida. Her father was a councillor representing TANU. After attending Nyerere Primary School, Ihanja Secondary School and the Lutheran Seminary, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Tumaini University and a Law Degree from the University of Dar es Salaam. Her studies then took her to the UK, where she attained a Master’s Degree in Law (LLM) from the University of Essex in 2000. She then worked for various local and international organisations dealing with women’s empowerment, community development and refugees.
Her political journey started during the TANU era, when she was a member of the party’s youth league. But she reduced her participation in politics in the late 1970s to focus on her education, career and family.
She returned to active politics in 2009, joining Chadema, where she held various junior leadership positions. In March, 2015, she left Chadema for the newly formed ACT-Wazalendo, where she was later nominated the party’s national chairwoman during the party’s first general congress. Later that year she ran for President of Tanzania, representing ACT, achieving just 1% of the vote, despite attracting considerable support from the country’s intelligentsia.
Two years later she was appointed Kilimanjaro RC by President Magufuli, a role in which she served until her retirement earlier this year. Her appointment surprised both opposition supporters and many ruling party members as she was still chair of ACT-Wazalendo at the time.
President Hassan issued a statements saying that Ms Mghwira had played a great role in the country’s development.
“I am saddened by the passing of the former Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira. I will remember her for her great contributions in the building of the country,” she said.

Sigvard von Sicard 1930-2021 was a Swedish Lutheran pastor and theologian whose special interest was in improving relationships between Christians and Muslims. In 1957 he became pastor at Maneromanga, about 50 miles South West of Dar es Salaam, beyond Kisarawe, in those days very remote and hard to get to. His wife Judith gives dramatic descriptions of what life was like in her book Beyond the Narrows: Cultural Reflections from My Missionary Life (2013).
In 1966, Sigvard joined the staff of Makumira theological college (now university) near Moshi, and in 1970 he received a PhD from Uppsala for a thesis and subsequently a book on the story of the Lutheran Church on the Coast of Tanzania, 1887-1914.
In 1971 the family moved to England, where he became a key figure in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham. When this closed in 1998 he stayed on as an Associate in the Theology Department of Birmingham University where he was “the father to African students” and always made sure that those who got degrees had some kind of celebration, even if their families could not attend it.
He felt deeply about Africa and African people, and once described himself as “white on the outside and black on the inside”. He kept his interest in Tanzania, and especially Swahili and Islam, till the end.
Andrew Coulson

Minister of Defence and National Service, Elias Kwandikwa, died on August 2 while undergoing treatment in Dar es Salaam. The cause of his death was not immediately made public.
Kwandikwa, who died at the age of 55 was MP for Ushetu Constituency in Shinyanga Region. He was appointed Minister of Defence by late President John Magufuli during his second term on December 05, 2020. Prior to this he had served as Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communications.