Archive for Issue 81

GENETIC MODIFICATION

Reacting to a government announcement that it would be forming a team to look into the feasibility of introducing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the country and to prepare relevant rules to govern such imports, a network of some forty civil society organisations working with smallholder farmers cautioned the government. It said that stakeholders in the agricultural sector must be involved in approving this move. It claimed that GM crops and foods had a potentially negative impact on the environment, economy, culture and health. Even GM crop-producing countries had been unable to ensure the safety of GM crops. They added that GMOs reduced small-scale farmers into ‘slaves’ for big companies in the rich countries, which had a monopoly of the technology, setting the stage for diminished food production. Blind adoption of the technology would bring a lot of problems to farmers as it would lead to dependency, loss of natural biodiversity, promotion of inappropriate farming systems and denial of a farmers’ right to save, share and choose seeds to plant.

Comments

MISCELLANY

British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock was at the unveiling of plans for a MWALIMU NYERERE UNITED WORLD COLLEGE FOR SELF RELIANCE in Dar es Salaam. It will be built at Mwalimu Nyerere’s home village of Butiama in Mara Region. There are already United World Colleges in the UK, Singapore, Canada, Swaziland, United States, Italy, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Norway and India. The Tanzanian College would be similar to the Simon Bolivar United World College of Agriculture in Venezuela and would be established on a 600-acre piece of land that had once been developed through Cuban assistance, he said.

Over 147 types of prohibited COSMETICS worth Tsh. 24 million, were seized from shops during surprise inspections carried out by Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TDFA) officers in all municipalities in the country. Speaking at a press conference the Director of the project Dr. Sekubwabo Ngendabanka said that laboratory tests revealed the presence of harmful substances, which were not displayed on the packaging, contrary to regulations, while some of the cosmetics carried labels with unfamiliar names aimed at fooling the authorities. He said that there were side effects from using cosmetics containing Hydroquinon, mercury and steroids. Some people got pimples on the face and there were also dangers from skin cancer, heart attack and kidney infection – Guardian.

In a recent report prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, which met earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland, Tanzania ranked 63rd out of 146 countries in the 2005 INDEX OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY. The index ranks nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or improving air and water quality, natural resource management, biodiversity, and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems. Finland, Norway and Uruguay held the top three spots and the US ranked 45th behind for example Japan, Botswana and most of Western Europe, but before Britain which ranked 66th. Near the bottom were Haiti, Taiwan, Iraq and North Korea. The report is based on 75 measures, including the rate at which children die from respiratory diseases, fertility rates, water quality, over fishing and emission of heat-trapping gases.

Speakers at a memorial meeting in Dar es Salaam to celebrate the life and work of JOAN WICKEN, Mwalimu Nyerere’s lifetime private secretary, showered praise on her as an exemplary leader, worker and intellectual who dedicated her life to serve Tanzania. President Mkapa’s special emissary to see her when her health degenerated, Mr Walter Bgoya, said it took him some time to persuade Joan that he was in London last December for no other reason except to convey greetings from the President and Mama Anna Mkapa. They spent about ten hours together spread over three days just before she died. Even then, he said, her wish was to get news on how the issue of leadership succession was evolving. Walter said he gave her some of the names that were being mentioned and her single reaction was that she was surprised that some of them were even contemplating running for the presidency. He did not reveal those names but the remark had made President Mkapa laugh. CCM Secretary-General Philip Mangula said Joan’s name stood out prominently in the history of Tanzania. Her efforts to set up the Kivukoni College along the lines of Ruskin College, Oxford, had inspired and shaped the destinies of many cadres in the ruling party. Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation Joseph Butiku said she was a very strong-willed person and moderated Mwalimu’s behaviour on several occasions, by simply but firmly, telling him that he could not do what he wanted to do just because he was president. Her personal secretary, Ms Anna Mwansasu, said Ms Wicken was, apart from being a very strict disciplinarian, very humane in nature and always seemed to know the needs of her subordinates even before they revealed them. In the office, she was affectionately referred to simply as shangazi, Swahili for aunt. Ms Mwansasu, who seemed to lose the steadiness in her voice, said that Ms Wicken was not only her boss but also a great friend. When the eulogies were read out, tears welled in quite a number of cabinet ministers and top civil servants’ faces – The Guardian.

TWO BRITISH SOLDIERS who were accused of murdering a woman in Dar es Salaam in November 2004 were released in December when Director of Public Prosecution Geoffrey Shaidi said that, much as the public would wish to believe otherwise, the truth was that the police findings did not establish that the British soldiers killed Conjesta Ulikaye (26). There was no reason therefore for the court to continue holding the two soldiers. According to the British Ministry of Defence, the 22 soldiers came from the ‘Light Dragoons’ and were in Tanzania for training. “When the State pronounces that it has no interest in a particular case (nolle prosequi), the decision is made by professionals, without any influence from anyone,” Shaidi said. He was also reacting to claims from certain quarters that his office had been under pressure from the British government, one of Tanzania’s major donor countries. “None of us can silence the people. They are free to think or say what they want. But I can assure you that a three-panel judge and I worked together on this case. We could not find any substantial evidence to convict the suspects” he said. The death certificate issued by the Muhimbili National Hospital said that the woman died of ‘Aspiration Pneumonia.’ Some human rights activists had said earlier that the government showed that it valued the rights of foreigners more than those of its citizens and added that the decision had tarnished Tanzania’s image. One said the decision to drop the case had “shocked” women who now felt they were not being protected by their own government – Guardian.

When the British fugitive Duncan Grant moved to Dar es Salaam in 2002 from India, where he was facing CHILD ABUSE CHARGES, according to the Guardian, he knew he was not just taking a chance. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Tanzania has requested Indian Police to expedite the extradition process. The ‘jigsaw puzzle’ which Grant seemed to have taken advantage of in deciding to choose Tanzania as a sanctuary, is based on the historical background of the two countries. The fact that some of the laws were inherited from the colonial administration and since there was no bilateral treaty on exchange of criminals, the extradition of Grant to India remained a matter of ‘probability’. Upon arrival in Tanzania, Grant opened three childrens’ centres in Kariakoo, Magomeni and Bagamoyo. After his arrest on August 30, 2004, two of the centers, in Kariakoo and Magomeni, were closed down.

Prof. Sospeter Muhongo of the Department of Geology at the University of Dar es Salaam has been elected the new Chairperson of the Scientific Board of UNESCO’s INTERNATIONAL GEO-SCIENCE PROGRAMME. Prof. Muhongo, who becomes the first scientist from a developing country to lead the global scientific Board, was also recently elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and by the Elsevier publishing company was appointed as one of the two editors-in-chief of the ‘Journal of African Earth Sciences.’ IGCP was established in 1972 as one of the five scientific programmes of UNESCO. It operates in about 150 countries involving several thousands of scientists and has funded more than 500 projects in all continents of the world.”

The ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (ZIFF) is planning a conference from July 1 to10 under the theme “Monsoons and Migration, unleashing dhow synergies”. ZIFF is inviting papers on such topics as immigration, cultures of tolerance and peace, Indian ocean cultures, maritime routes, trade and relationships, the Dhow Culture, the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean, and cultural diversity in Zanzibar. ZIFF does not have its own funds, but hopes to raise enough for local costs of the conference. It may not be able to help with airfares or accommodation. The organiser can be contacted at asheriff@zitec.org

Dar es Salaam is to have a Shs 20 billion BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM intended to severely restrict the use of cars in the city centre. The project will be financed by the World Bank, UNEP, USAID, and the City Council and will be planned and constructed by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy of New York, Logit Engenharia Consultiva of Brazil and Inter Consult of Tanzania. The architect is a former Mayor of Bogota who was quoted in the Guardian as saying that “The real objective is a city where it is nice to walk and ride a bicycle or sit on a plaza under a giant tropical tree.” The proposed system would provide the city with hundreds of kilometres of pedestrian streets lined with giant tropical trees, sports fields and thousands of kilometers of protected bicycle-ways. 160 to 200 passenger capacity buses would help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution at the city center.

Comments

OBITUARIES

A veteran of the independence struggle in Tanzania and one of its first cabinet ministers, Ambassador PAUL BOMANI (80) died on April 1. He had been Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam since 1993 and was also chairman of Tanzania Breweries Ltd and Tanzania Distilleries Ltd. He obtained a diploma at Loughborough College in Leicester in 1954 and later, a Masters Degree at John Hopkins University in the USA. His first post was as Minister of Natural Resources and Co-operative Development in 1960. He was subsequently Ambassador to the United States and Minister for Mineral Resources. But perhaps his greatest achievement was to mastermind the establishment of a huge and highly successful cooperative movement in the Lake Victoria Region in the 1950’s which became responsible for marketing the rapidly increasing cotton crop. President Mkapa led hundreds of mourners at the burial at Capri Point cemetery in Mwanza.

Good Governance Minister in the Zanzibar Government and former diplomat, AHMED HASSAN DIRIA (68) died on March 14 in a German hospital. He first joined the government as a Labour Officer in Zanzibar. After the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964, he was appointed Area Commissioner for Pemba. He became Tanzania’s ambassador to Zaire before he was transferred to West Germany and later to Egypt, Japan and India. He was appointed Minister for Information and Broadcasting in 1989, a position he held up to 1994. He was then moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. He was a staunch defender of the Union between the mainland and Zanzibar.

Sir JAMES FARQUHARSON KBE (101) who died on 17th February, dedicated virtually his whole working life to the development of railways in Africa. He came to Tanganyika in 1937 and remained there through the war years as District Engineer and then Chief Engineer of the Tanganyikan part of the then the East African Railways and Harbours (EAR&H). It was in Dar es Salaam that he began the work that pleased him most, the expansion of railway systems. Expansions completed during this period were the Mpanda line in western Tanzania (131 miles) the southern line (168 miles) built to serve the UK Government’s disastrous groundnut scheme and the Singida line (65 miles). In 1957 he became General Manager of the EAR&H and became involved in establishing a link line between the central and northern lines in Tanzania (425 miles). This was a difficult time for labour relations as the new trade unions flexed their muscles. Farquharson was a hardliner in such matters, believing that the railway staff enjoyed better pay and conditions than most other workers. He faced out several strikes, walking through the picket lines to his office; a newspaper report from the time quoted a union leader advising that there was to be a great party when the General Manager retired. The split of the railway system in East Africa into its three component parts saddened Farquharson but did not daunt his belief that the railways could still play a key role in the country’s development (Thank you Hugh Leslie for sending this from The Times – Editor).

GREVILLE FREEMAN-GRENVILLE (86) who died in February, was described in the Times obituary as ‘a gentleman-historian of the old school’ and a fearless campaigner to preserve the archaeological remains of Africa and the Middle East. He was in Tanganyika from 1951 to 1961. Amongst the 26 books he wrote were ‘The Medieval History of the Coast of Tanganyika’ (1962) and ‘The East African coast: select documents from the first to the earlier 19th century’. His interest in the copper coins that were minted at port cities offered the possibility that their dynastic history could be reconstructed from their surviving chronicles. For many years he was the only person able to identify the coins of the Sultans of Kilwa and Mogadishu. He frequently pointed to the importance of Kilwa as a site for research.

MARY PEAKE (104) served as a teacher and as a School Supervisor at the UMCA’s Diocese of Masasi for 32 years from 1937. When Trevor Huddleston became Bishop in 1960 he transferred Mary, by then aged 60, to the less physically arduous work as a teacher at the boys’ secondary school at Chidya. In 1969 she moved to Dar es Salaam to teach English at the new St. Mark’s Theological College. Her dining rooms served as a refectory for other expatriate church workers, not to mention a constant stream of visitors to what became known as ‘Mary’s Guest House’. During her final years from 1995 she was cared for by the Tanzanian sisters of the CMS next to the cathedral at Ilala – from Rev. Canon Paul R Hardy. (Thank you Mary Punt for sending this on – Editor).

BRUCE RONALDSON (87) who died on December 2 2004, was a District Commissioner in Tanganyika after the Second World War. He took a particularly close interest in sport and captained Tanzania at cricket. He also trained John Akhwari, who entered the marathon at the Mexico Olympics. Akhwari fell during the race and finished hours after the rest of the field but became an overnight celebrity and symbol of the Olympic spirit when he told reporters: “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start this race. They sent me to finish it.” In 1961 Ronaldson moved to Britain and became Company Secretary of Oxfam – The Times.

Comments

REVIEWS

Edited by John Cooper-Poole (UK) and Marion Doro (USA)

LORDS OF THE FLY: SLEEPING SICKNESS CONTROL IN BRITISH EAST AFRICA 1900-1960. Kirk Arden Hoppe. Westpoort (Connecticut), Praeger, 2003. ISBN 03250 71233. h/b 216pp. £37.99

In his book Lords of the Fly Hoppe looks primarily, but not exclusively, at the relationship between disease control and the exercise of power at various levels in colonial Uganda and Tanganyika.
In Uganda from 1903 and Tanganyika from the 1920s, the imperial government introduced measures aimed at curtailing the spread of sleeping sickness, which the author contextualises as part of Britain’s ‘civilising mission’ for the colonies. Underlying the apparent benign paternalism, however, lay less benevolent practices. The colonial regime introduced a number of coercive measures to tackle disease and eradicate the tsetse fly. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments