The Commonwealth Development Corporation’s THE MAGAZINE (September 1998) wrote about the ‘outstanding success of its Tanzania Venture Capital Fund in supporting, with its financial muscle, Tanzania Tea Packers during the last three years’. Tanzania Tea Packers blends and packs tea under its brand name Chai Bora and sells three blends – Nguvu Blend, Supreme Blend and Blue Label, and its success has been in breaking the modern rules of advertising and going back to 30-year old techniques -promotional discounts, 20% extra tea free in the pack -a first for Tanzania; wall signs; bill boards; radio jingles; simple phrasing like ‘Good Tea’ plus some exciting modern visual designs and the most modern packaging available. Kahawa Bora was due to be introduced in September 1998, then Soda Bora and then lots of other little boras, ‘all of whose aim is to provide the consumer with a simple product, at a reasonable price, a standard quality obeying environmental and food norms and, making money’.
THE FISHING ROD
An anecdote from the autobiography of former British Prime Minister Edward Heath was quoted in the EAST AFRICAN (November 2). Apparently President Reagan was lecturing Mwalimu Nyerere on the need for his country to become selfsupporting. “In other words” he said “I will help you to buy the fishing rod, but after that the rest lies with you. You must fish in your own pond to support yourselves” “That is fine” said Mwalimu “but what happens if you haven’t got a pond with any fish?”
UNIQUE FILM FESTIVAL
The VSO publication ORBIT published in its third quarter 1998 issue an account of the Zanzibar International Film Festival held there recently. It wrote: ‘It was a unique film festival which questioned the overwhelming presence of Hollywood and Indian Bollywood films in Africa by screening nearly 100 films from the ‘dhow’ countries, most of them African in origin ….. these were films with social realism, depth and diversity ….. one was ‘Bongo Beat’, a Tanzanian-made film featuring local musical hero Ronny Ongala and another ‘Flame’ about two female teenagers who sign up to fight in Zimbabwe’s war. By the end of the week over 1,000 people a night were cramming into the open-air fort beneath a clear sky, straining their ears above the noise of the insects to enjoy the films …. but local cinema owner Firoz complained that he lost money by showing festival films’. After the festival he was happy to go back to his regular and highly popular rota of Indian films, Titanic and James Bond. The article quoted a UNESCO estimate that film attendance in Tanzania totals five million a year -a major leisure pursuit. But Michael Booth, writing in the INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY (October 25) went out to one of the 25 ‘Village Panorama’s designed to bring African-made films to African audiences. At Bambi, two hours drive from Stone Town, he found 500 people waiting for the performance. The main film was Black Ninja Group, a Dar es Salaam-made feature -‘it was probably the worst film I had ever seen’ he wrote. ‘It was a non-sensical tale of mainly kung fu bouts between baddies in balaclavas and policemen, and was edited with an axe. But it went down well with the audience who made off into the night around midnight still shouting and laughing…. Meanwhile, he EAST AFRICAN reported that Tanzania was the only country in East Africa to submit a film to M-Net’s 4th All Africa Film Awards in Pretoria in November. The film, Maangamizi – The Ancient One, did not win an award.
SOUTH AFRICAN VIEWS
The South African press continues to take a close interest in Tanzania. The SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (October 25) wrote about the estimated 15,000 prostitutes in the country. ‘Recently, eight pupils at Songea’s Girls Secondary School were expelled for running a brothel using a building near the school. The girls were found naked in the house when a team of teachers invaded it. Six customers ran away. The pupils said they were forced to make money that way because their parents could not give them any. Peggy Mengoli, a writer to the editor of the MAIL AND GUARDIAN (October 10) referred to Deputy President Thabo Mbeki’s call for an ‘African Renaissance’. He associated it with Julius Nyerere’s ‘African Socialism’ and wrote that, ‘when he (Nyerere) got into his stride he took control of the media, banned opposition parties, controlled the trade unions, denied members the right to strike, jailed people without trial for merely protesting and nationalised industries which had previously been doing well… leaving Tanzania one of the poorest countries on earth’. The writer concluded that ‘if Mbeki follows in the footsteps of Nyerere, it won’t be to oversee an African renaissance but an African mass funeral’. Another article on the same day in the same paper under the heading ‘Tanzania feels the pain of indifference’ quoted Christopher Mwakasese, Director of Tanzania’s ‘Social and Economic Trust’ (an NGO) as being angry about the way in which Africa’s needs for debt relief were being handled by the World Bank and IMF. He said that out of 25 World Bank agricultural projects in Tanzania 13 had negative rates of return. The South African BUSINESS DAY (November 18) reported that the South African company Murray and Roberts is going to build, starting in 1999 a large shopping complex in Dar es Salaam to be know as the Mali Msasani in which other South African firms are expected to open shops –Thank you David Leishman for sending these items from South Africa Editor.
A supplement on Tanzania produced by PM Communications for the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (November 15) included statements by government officials and others (covering all sectors) and pointed out the rapid development of telecommunications since the sector was liberalised in 1993. Tritel, one of the main operators of cellular telephones said that it has gained 10,000 subscribers in two and a half years, and with Mobitel, the other main operator, there would be around 40,000 mobile phone users by the end of 1999. Tritel is a joint venture with a Malaysian company which has invested almost $40 million. Mobitel, which has the greater share of the market, is a joint venture with Millicom International Cellular and is busy extending its operations to Mbeya, Shinyanga and Tanga –Thank you Donald Wright for sending this item Editor.
A new glossy international travel magazine called SWAHILI COAST, which is designed to promote coastal eco-tourism, published its first issue in July. The first article advertised the Zanzibar Film Festival and the second article, supported by beautiful reproductions, featured Tingatinga art. Professor Sherrif wrote about the sad life of Princess Salme, the daughter of Seyyid Said, the nineteenth century ruler of Oman and Zanzibar, who fell in love with a young German trader, Rudolph Heinrich Ruete, who lived only three years after their marriage. The princess resided in Germany for most of the rest of her life. The concluding article was a short history of Mafia by Peter Byme.
Another volunteer, Patrick Wilson (from ‘Health Projects Abroad HPA’) has been describing life in a Tanzanian village. His story filled a page in the SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE (May 17). ‘ ……. people have a strong sense of communal responsibility. Recently, when a man was hit on the head and couldn’t work for months, every family in the village gave his family rice or vegetables. The villagers are amused at our attitude to work; when they learnt that an HPA engineer had been working a l2-hour day in England, they were flabbergasted. “Was your family starving?” they asked …… a visit to the movies is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. One day we heard we could see a film in a certain village. After riding on our Chinese bicycles for two hours, we arrived to find a man with a video. We watched it outside on a TV run from half an old car which was so noisy that we could hardly hear what was going on. The video turned out to be a terrible Chinese martial arts film dubbed into American Irish. Every time there was a fight scene the audience leapt to its feet and an imitation fight ensued. Then the car engine cut out because it had run out of petrol. Some men cycled off furiously to find petrol. An hour later petrol was found and the video resumed. But it soon cut out again. The whole thing took all day’ –Thank you Cath Rowlatt for sending us this story -Editor.
CONVERTING FEAR INTO HOPE
‘What previous chief executives of the National Bank of Commerce (NBC 1997 Ltd) could not achieve in several years, Dr. Francis Mlozi and his team have accomplished in 10 months. Mlozi has turned the crumbling, debt laden bank from a dying loser to a profitable winner’ -so wrote BUSINESS IN AFRICA in its October-November 1998 issue. The article was full of praise for the newly restructured bank. The author wrote that Mlozi’s first task had been that of converting fear into hope for his 1,000 staff and ultimately for his customers. Thousands of customers had left. Just three months into his “change for the better programme’, NBC 1997 hit profits. These totalled Shs 2.5 billion in the last quarter of 1997 but by June 1998 had reached the “incredible’ figure of Shs 10.5 billion. Mlozi considers Tanzania ‘over-banked’ -there are now 23 commercial banks in the country -but this competitiveness was not negative in the short term he said.
CO-OPERATIVES AND LIBERALISATION
The March 1998 issue of REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION contained an article by John Launder analysing the causes of the virtual collapse of certain cooperatives in Eastern and Southern Africa (with particular reference to Tanzania) and how this has affected agricultural industries. He concludes that the effect of liberalisation of marketing has been positive for consumers and larger traders but has been a negative experience for many farmers and may have harmed agricultural development. The lack of support services for small traders, particularly for finance, has delayed the establishment of an efficient marketing system. Liberalisation was poorly managed and was introduced too quickly after structural adjustment started. He concludes that a key issue is the integration of cooperatives and other marketers to produce an effective market base for agricultural development Thank you Peter Yea for sending this item -Editor.
THE PAIN OF INDIFFERENCE
The GUARDIAN WEEKLY (October 18) pointed out that when Asian currencies collapsed last year the IMF came to the rescue with multi-billion dollar bail-outs. However, since 1985 when Tanzania started its IMF structural adjustment programme, the Shilling had been devalued by 1,500% yet the country did not qualify for debt relief until 2002. The article quoted Christopher Mwakasese of the Tanzania Social and Economic Trust as complaining about this and also about the World Bank demanding repayment of loans for its own badly designed projects. Out of 25 agricultural projects 13 had had a negative rate of return, he said.
Thank you John Pearce for sending this item from Australia Editor.
CONTROVERSIAL TOURISM PROPOSAL
DEVELOPMENTS, the journal of Britain’s Department of International Development, had a page on the proposed new £2.5 billion tourist project in the Nungwi peninsular in northern Zanzibar in its Issue 3 of 1998. The ‘East African Development Company’ has leased 57 sq. kms. to create a resort which is intended to include 14-16 luxury hotels, timeshare villas, a world trade centre, three golf courses and Olympic-size swimming pools. But ‘Tourism Concern’ is expressing alarm about the 20,000 local people who may have to be uprooted and what it terms the massive environmental damage which would be caused. The developers deny the charges. They said that the government would have 26% of the shares in the joint company and that the people would receive water, electricity, sewerage and new roads under the project.
Criticism of the project was much stronger in the London OBSERVER (August 30) which had an item on the front page and a full page inside under the heading ‘On the Crooked Road to Zanzibar’ in which it claimed that two British businessmen with criminal records were masterminding the project to turn the ‘paradise’ island of Zanzibar into a playground for rich tourists. The Observer’s reporters, having tracked down the businessmen in addresses in Hampshire, the Isle of Man and Cyprus were left feeling that the necessary funds would never be raised. Villagers at Nungwi were found either not to know anything about the project or too afraid to speak about it except a certain dhow maker (who had been making dhows since he was 15) and was very concerned about losing his living.
THE BLUE BICYCLE
In its series ‘About Us’ the BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA (OctoberDecember) featured its man in Zanzibar, Ally Saleh and his blue bicycle -a bike which he claimed was more famous in Zanzibar than President Amour’s Mercedes 280. ‘I take my job very seriously’ he wrote ‘and have even managed to shake the government a few times. And the government has shaken me .. .I’ve been visited by plain-clothes policemen on more than one occasion and I’m not exactly a stranger to the inside of a prison cell. I spent a 30-day vacation in Zanzibar’s central jail in May 1998 after I was accused of taking part in an illegal demonstration …. ‘ Sal eh, who is disabled following polio at the age of four, concluded: ‘Everyone tells me to get rid of my trusty bicycle and get a car. A car? What for?
NEW AFRICAN (December) shared the surprise of many on learning that the Tanzanian Government had suddenly decided to liberalise its arms trade at a time when shootings and killings by gangsters are frequently hitting the headlines. This was a radical change of policy, the article wrote, and followed the bankruptcy of the government owned company which had previously controlled the arms trade. But Home Affairs Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed denied the dangers. “Guns are not going to be sold like tomatoes in the market” he said. “Only experienced former army officers will be arms importers and only light weapons will be traded”.