by James L.Laizer

Nyerere National Park, an emergent tourism destination in Southern Tanzania
The Tanzanian government and tourism sector partners are keen to highlight the potential of the Nyerere National Park, and various outlets now cover news and offers on this emergent tourist destination. Covering an area of 30,893 square kilometres, the park is one of the largest in the world. Located in south-eastern Tanzania, about 230 kilometres by road from Dar es Salaam city to Mtemere Gate, it was carved out from the Selous Game Reserve, a gigantic wilderness area and safari destination in Southern Tanzania.

The park was named after the first president of Tanzania, the late Julius Nyerere, in recognition of his work going back to the Arusha declaration of 1967, championing conservation and protection of wildlife in the country, as a matter of national heritage. It is one of the wildest places remaining in Africa, with a wide variety of wildlife habitats, including open grasslands, miombo woodlands, swamps and riverine forests in the many tributaries of the mighty Rufiji River which flows through the park to the Indian Ocean.

Given that the park was only upgraded to national park status in November 2019 and less frequented by tourists, animals there tend to be less exposed to humans. The park hosts some of the largest populations of mammals and reptiles in Africa, including buffaloes, elephants, hippos and crocodiles. Together with the remaining part of Selous Game Reserve, it is considered to be the last stronghold of the African wild dog—or painted wolf. Other common wildlife includes the wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, eland, the greater kudu, sable antelopes, black rhino, waterbuck, impala, lion, leopard, the spotted hyena, cheetah, baboon, blue monkey, and the black and white colobus monkey which can be viewed in riverine forests.

Increasing coverage indicates Nyerere National Park offers a wide variety of game viewing opportunities including the experience of a walking safari in the company of an armed ranger. The many waterways in the park provide an excellent natural setting for boat safaris, both for big game viewing and bird watching. This is in addition to the game drives in bespoke safari vehicles which, combined with boat and walking safaris, offer specialist products distinctive to Nyerere National Park.

The best time to visit is from June to October, when vegetation is sparse and when thirsty ungulate herds move towards water, trailed by lions, hyenas, leopards and wild dogs. During the long rains, between March and May, some parts of the park are temporarily closed for game drives due to poor accessibility. For bird lovers, Nyerere National Park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania and the best time for one to go for birding is between November and April during the wet season when migratory birds fly into the country. Established bird species include the yellow-bellied bulbul, mangrove kingfisher, black cuckoo-shrike, palm-nu vulture, red throated twin spot, red-winged warbler, African skimmer, spotted flanked barbet and the grey hooded kingfisher among others. About 440 species of birds both resident and migratory have been observed in the national park.

There is an increasingly wide range of choice for accommodation, which have been developed for this new key tourism product and conservation habitat in the southern circuit.

Dialogue over securing a single tourist visa for EAC Partner states
Initial discussions over securing a single tourist visa for the East African partner states are in progress. The East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) is developing a work plan for research and advocacy to partner states on the East African Community (EAC) single tourist visa to help the sector thrive. Mr John Bosco Kalisa, the Executive Director of the East African Business Council (EABC), stated that the new initiative is in line with a vision of developing a single tourist destination to boost the performance of the bloc’s tourism sector.

The visa will therefore help to ease movement of international tourists across the EAC partner states boarders of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and make it easier for industry players to offer multi-destination packages and fostering economic growth in the sector.

Tourism is one of the significant sectors in the EAC economy. The sector accounts for approximately 17% of total export earnings, 10% of GDP growth, and 7% of total employment opportunities in the region. The sector has close links to transportation, food production, retail and entertainment sectors. The EAC is a popular region offering numerous tourism investment opportunities, include the establishment of resort cities, the branding of premium parks and the construction of internationally branded hotels.

Other opportunities include the development of high-quality meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) tourist facilities and conference tourism facilities, as well as health and sports tourism.

According to data from 2022, the EAC recorded around 5.8 million international tourist arrivals, and in the context of the African tourism market, the EAC held a share of approximately 13.5% of the total international tourist arrivals in Africa, which stood at around 43 million last year, according to Mr. Yves Ngenzi EATP Regional Coordinator. Mr Ngenzi said by streamlining the visa application process for international tourists, the EAC can create a more tourist-friendly environment that could potentially lead to an increase in tourist arrivals, as visitors would find it more convenient to explore multiple EAC destinations with a single visa.

Study suggests challenges with community conservation partnerships
Current partnerships for wildlife, forestry and marine resource conservation have had limited or no impact on local communities, according to a recent study. It proposes a number of steps for the arrangement to be improved on, to provide the desired results.

The five-year study, from which results were launched on 6th April, 2023, was a collaboration between researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Copenhagen Business School and University of Roskilde (Denmark), University of Sheffield and the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Experts who were based in the districts of Kilwa, Rufiji and Mtwara Rural presented evidence to stakeholders and the government to enhance their methods of conservation of natural resources in relation to the livelihoods of local residents. The project ‘New Partnerships for Sustainability’ (NEPSUS) suggests that while complex partnerships that link donors, government, community organisations, NGOs, consultancies, certification agencies and other intermediaries have been emerging to address the sustainability of natural resource use, this has not yet delivered better outcomes for local communities.

The findings led to the publication of a book titled “Contested Sustainability: The Political Ecology of Conservation and Development in Tanzania.” The authors argue that to a large extent, the results of those partnerships have been beneficial for the elite class. According to the research, village groups around natural resources, especially in coastal areas, face governance challenges related to structural, financial and participatory failures.

They propose that in the formation of community groups, the local community are sometimes involved at the beginning, but the process ends up being captured by the central government and local elites. ‘’Financially, most local groups such as Beach Management Units (BMUs) are poorly equipped and the funds accrued from fines and fees are not enough to facilitate the setting up of alternative livelihood activities,” reads part of the report findings. Despite deliberate, evolving and persuasive efforts by government, NGOs and companies to raise awareness about the relevant rules and regulations, the results suggest that sustainability partnerships have struggled to gain and maintain legitimacy. They argue that “local communities are yet to perceive these partnerships as responsive, accountable and trustworthy arrangements that strike the requisite balance between community welfare and conservation goals”. The findings indicate that much of the economic benefits are primarily realised at the community level rather than the household level.

Prof. Christine Noe from UDSM, one of the report authors, says that they aimed to have evidence to advise the improvement of various government policies. “To whose benefit do we conserve?” she inquired, adding that many community members have been seen as enemies of conservation and recommending that alternative sources of livelihood that make sense to local communities should be facilitated. According to Prof. Noe, greater efforts should be made to facilitate contact between local communities and other key actors before the establishment of sustainability partnerships, to maintain them during their operation and to ensure that the benefits accrued from the income resulting from partnerships need to be distributed evenly and avoid elite capture.


by Donovan McGrath
In the blood: why diabetes is the scourge of entire families in Tanzania
(The Guardian online – UK) Elisaria has had diabetes for decades. Her husband died of it and five relatives live with it. Yet millions in this fast-growing country cannot afford to get the treatment they need. Extract continues: … The 70-year-old retired Tanzanian businesswoman from Dar es Salaam has been living with type 2 diabetes for decades, and she is one of six in her extended family with the chronic illness… Government health sector reports show that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes are on the rise and now account for about 40% of Tanzania’s disease burden… Older Tanzanians are disproportionately affected by NCDs, yet nearly 90% of people over 50 do not have health insurance and have little access to medical services. The state health insurance scheme can cost between £70 and £350 a year, and healthcare costs are prohibitive for many… Victoria Matutu, 35, is shouldering a double burden. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago, Matutu spends about £35 a month on insulin, and the same amount on clinic visits every two months. Her mother also has the condition, so Matutu has to help her with medical bills. She earns the equivalent of £140 a month, which is not enough to pay into the government’s scheme… Mary Mayige, coordinator of the National Survey for Non-Communicable Diseases, says that conditions that once mainly affected the elderly now affect people in their 30s who are “the production engine of the country”. Healthcare has always been thought about in terms of spending, she says. “It’s high time that countries begin to look at the situation as a threat to the economy and human capital development.” … Tanzania allocates less than 5% of its GDP to health, which is below the international threshold for provision of basic services. Donor funding contributes to about 60% of total public spending, but the health programmes it pays for are heavily skewed towards infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, despite data which suggests that cases of infectious diseases are falling, while NCDs are on the rise and account for nearly half of the country’s deaths… (28 December 2022)

Now that’s petrifying! Bizarre lake in Tanzania instantly turns animals that touch it into ‘STONE’
(Mail online – UK) Extract: The idea of a lake that instantly turns animals that touch it into stone may sound like a concept from Greek mythology. But it’s a reality in Tanzania, where animals live in fear of one of the world’s deadliest lakes. Lake Natron is a key mating ground for lesser endangered flamingo, but animals risk being frozen forever in its salt if they dare to go near its shores. Bacteria, which give the water its blood red tone, are some of the only organisms that can tolerate its average 78°F (26°C) heat, fatal salt concentration and alkalinity. Bodies that fall into the water decompose rapidly while those which fall on its edge are ‘encrusted in salt’ that ‘stays forever’, according to ecologist David Harper of the University of Leicester… The lake’s hostile conditions can be blamed on the nearby Ol Doinyo Lengai – also known as the Mountain of God – which is the only active volcano to emit natrocarbonatites. These feed into the lake through stream channels that cut through the volcano, contributing to its harsh alkalinity of over pH 10. Only flamingos, which eat up the water’s nutrient-rich cyanobacteria, flock to the area for mating. But even they cannot escape the salt lake’s merciless conditions, and can fall victim to being encrusted at the shore… (22 March 2023)

From Maasai warrior to YouTube star! Son of Tanzanian tribe chief gains more than a MILLION views online as he tries pizza and takes a flight for the first time
(Mail online – UK) Extract: … Kanaya Kolong Parkepu, 38, is the son of the 95-year-old chief and has become the first Maasai warrior to have YouTube and Instagram. He created the Maasaiboys channel a year ago, with his videos gaining up to 700,000 views as he and his friends try out burgers and pizzas for the first time. He revealed that part of his motivation to start the channel was his fear that his tribe and culture will be lost in the future. The 38-year-old influencer told The Times social media is ‘good’ for the tribe, adding: ‘My dream is to teach people how the Maasai live. ‘The Maasai all communicate as a group. We pass down songs. We help each other…’ Kanaya created the page with his friend Arman Alamdar, 20, who appears alongside him in videos with other friends, Kili, Simba and Kanaya’s girlfriend, Sally. Meanwhile his father, the chief of the tribe, Arooni, also appears on screen at times. Kanaya said his father has ‘embraced’ the new technology in the tribe, adding he ‘likes to laugh’ and sees the clips as ‘educating people.’ They have amassed 14,700 followers on Instagram and 17,300 subscribers on YouTube. Their top video, African Tribe tries Burger for the first time, has almost 750,000 views, while another African Tribe tries Pizza for the first time has over 200,000. A third showing them embarking on their first ever plane journey has over 40,000 views on YouTube… (16 March 2023)

Finding a brighter future for Tanzania’s child domestic workers

Mercy Esther – photo Marek Klosowicz/Kulczyk Foundation

(CNN online – USA) Extract: … Raised by her grandmother in rural Tanzania, Mercy Esther and her siblings were born into poverty, sometimes without money for food, let alone schoolbooks. When their grandmother was approached with a job offer for Mercy Esther in Kenya, and the promise that money would be sent home, she accepted… The job offer turned out to be a lie – the first of a string of broken promises that would deprive a young woman of her childhood and her family. Mercy Esther was born with a deformity in one foot, causing a pronounced limp. On the streets of Nairobi she and other children were forced to beg. She was told to pretend she could not walk, to elicit sympathy from the public. Each day, what money she collected was taken from her. One day, while begging, Mercy Esther was approached by a woman who offered her domestic work and more promises: a new home, a wage and good treatment. She went with the woman, but instead Mercy Esther was abused and received no money for her labour. It would be six years before she ran away. With the support of the Nairobi police and Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, Mercy Esther returned to the country of her birth, but without details of the village where she was raised, authorities put her in the care of WoteSawa Domestic Workers Organization, which runs a shelter for trafficked children in Mwanza … in the north of the country… “Tanzania is a beautiful and peaceful country, but there is a dark side,” said Angela Benedicto, the organization’s founder and executive director. “Many people live in poverty, and forced labour is a very big problem,” she added. “The most common form of human trafficking in Tanzania is domestic servitude, young girls forced into domestic work. They face abuse, exploitation, and are not paid for their work.” Around one million children – mostly girls – are engaged in domestic work in Tanzania, according to the non­profit Anti-Slavery International. WoteSawa was set up in 2014 and every year takes in around 75 children who have escaped trafficking… So far, the non-profit has helped hundreds of survivors, but the needs are greater than the resources available. Benedicto dreams of building a bigger haven for more children. Her mission is to empower domestic workers and advocate for their rights. It’s an issue that’s close to her heart; she is herself a former domestic worker… WoteSawa means “all are equal” in Swahili. At the shelter children are housed and provided with counselling and legal support. They also receive an education in literacy and numeracy, and vocational skills such as needlework. Reintegrating children back into education works in step with efforts to reunite children with their loved ones, “so that when they go back to their families, they can help not only themselves, but they can help their families,” said Benedicto… (18 March 2023)

Ancient DNA Confirms the Origin Story of the Swahili People
(Smithsonian Magazine online – USA) Medieval individuals in the coastal East African civilization had almost equal parts African and Asian ancestry, a new study finds. Extract continues: A new analysis of medieval DNA has revealed that around the turn of the first millennium, Swahili ancestors from Africa and Asia began intermingling and having children, giving rise to a Swahili civilization with a multicultural identity, at least among its elites. The discovery matches local stories passed down through generations that were previously dismissed as myth by outside researchers… Members of the medieval and early modern Swahili culture live in towns and villages along the coast of East Africa, shared the Kiswahili language and largely practiced a common religion of Islam. The new research published … in the journal Nature, sheds some light on how this culture formed. To start, the research team—made up of 44 scientists, including 17 African scholars—worked with locals to excavate cemeteries along the Swahili coast. They gathered DNA samples from 80 people who lived between 1250 to 1800 C.E. and compared that data with saliva samples from modern-day coastal Swahili-speaking people, as well as individuals living in the Middle East, Africa and other areas of the world. Afterward, the team ensured the exhumed bodies were replaced in their cemetery plots. They found that about half of the DNA from the medieval individuals came from African women, while the other half primarily came from Asian men. Of the Asian DNA, about 80 to 90 percent revealed Persian ancestry, while approximately 10 percent was linked to India. The genetic material from modern-day individuals supported this mixed ancestry, though people who identify as Swahili today have inherited varying amounts of DNA from medieval peoples… Essentially, the paper reveals a timeline of intermarriage that matches a narrative told by the Swahili people called the Kilwa Chronicle… The Kilwa Chronicle tells a story of mixed Asian and African ancestry, suggesting that an influx of Persian sultans helped give rise to the Swahili culture. But prejudiced researchers have cast doubt on the story, assuming that the thriving East African port cities were built by Europeans, writes Popular Science’s Jocelyn Solis-Moreira. It has also been questioned by some African natives, who accused the elites of exaggerating their Asian connection to raise their social status, per the publication… The researchers intend to gather more samples to continue to fill in the missing pieces of Swahili ancestry… “These findings bring out the African contributions, and indeed, the Africanness of the Swahili, without marginalizing the Persian and Indian connection.” (31 March 2023)

African rats are being used to sniff out wildlife crime

Photo from APOPO’s HeroRATs facebook site

(Mail & Guardian online – UK) Extract: The multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife trade poses a major and growing threat to biodiversity, pushing species including pangolins, African elephants and rhinos closer to extinction. Now an unlikely little hero is being trained to sniff out smuggled wildlife products stashed inside shipping containers— the African giant pouched rat. The innovative Belgian non-profit, APOPO, in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a conservation NGO in South Africa, has been researching the abilities of the rodents to detect illegally trafficked wildlife products at APOPO’s base in Tanzania. The rats, which weigh between 1kg and 1.3kg, have a highly developed sense of smell, are intelligent and easy to train, locally sourced and widely available. The non-profit already uses these scent-detection animals, nicknamed HeroRATS, to find landmines in countries such as Mozambique and Cambodia and for tuberculosis detection in Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia. Obeid Katumba, the wildlife and law senior project officer at the EWT, said one of the core focus areas of its Wildlife in Trade Programme is the detection of trafficked wildlife and wildlife products… Standard screening methods are expensive, time-consuming, and potentially disruptive to operations, especially if customs officials have to open up and visually search shipping containers for suspected wildlife contraband. Coupled with this, organised criminals are innovative and find ways to circumnavigate these screening methods, he said. The EWT considered alternative, complementary screening methods to detect and deter wildlife smuggling. “We knew about APOPO and the work they did with the African giant pouched rats to detect landmines and to screen for tuberculosis using the rats’ incredible sense of smell and we thought that this ability might be transferable to the detection of wildlife contraband, much like dogs are used to find wildlife products.” … There are 16 rats in the project, which are trained at APOPO’s training facility on the campus of Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro … said the project’s lead researcher, Izzy Szott, a behavioural research scientist… The rodents are a potential asset in the fight against wildlife crime. They have a “fantastic” sense of smell, comparable to dogs. Another plus is the rats work with any trained handler and, unlike dogs, are not focused on a specific person… (15 March 2023)

Jane Goodall: ‘People are surprised I have a wicked sense of humour’
(The Guardian online – UK) Extract: … The scientist in me was evident early on. At four, desperate to know how eggs come out of chickens, I hid inside a hen house waiting to witness it. When I finally returned, Mum had called the police. I’d been missing for hours. Instead of punishing me, she listened to my discoveries. I was jealous of Tarzan’s Jane as a child. Yes, I know they were fictional. But I still felt spurned he didn’t pick me. From the age of 10, I dreamed of living with animals and writing books. In my early 20s, I travelled to Kenya. Out in the Serengeti, the palaeontologist Dr Louis Leakey was impressed with me. He offered me the opportunity to study chimpanzees like nobody had before. It was destiny. I don’t remember my father much. War broke out when I was young, then he was gone for good. Mum, meanwhile, encouraged me to follow my dreams. On my first expedition, in today’s Tanzania, the authorities wouldn’t let a woman work solo in the wild. My mother volunteered and joined me. After four months they all agreed I was crazy enough to go it alone. People often assume I’m stern and serious: Dr Jane Goodall PhD DBE. They’re surprised I’ve got a wicked sense of humour. When I started out I was told animals needed numbers not names, that mind, personality and emotion were unique to humanity. To me, this was so obviously not the case. A fact anyone with a pet could attest to… Before the pandemic, I travelled 300 days a year. Slowly I’m returning to that number. I’ll be 90 in a year – who knows how long I have left? Yet there’s so much left to do. As long as my mind and body obey, I’ll keep at it. (18 February 2023)

Young Africans are logging in and clocking on
(The Economist online – UK) The internet creates new kinds of work, but patterns of inequality persist. Extract continues: His home is Bungoma, a small town in western Kenya, but his workplace is the world. Kevin, who asks that his real name be withheld to protect his credibility, has written about casinos in China without ever going there. He has reviewed weightlifters’ barbells, headphones and home-security systems he has never seen. Africa’s digital workers are rewiring the old geographies of labour. Freelance on online platforms can reach clients around the world, harnessing skills from blogging to web design. Others are hired by outsourcing companies, sifting data used to train chatbots and self-driving cars. Optimists hope that online work can set Africa on the path of services-led growth trodden by countries such as India and the Philippines. Pessimists worry such work will entrench injustices… Freelances, like the wider outsourcing industry, “are fighting against a reputation of Africa as somewhere where you would not expect digital work to take place,” says Mohammad Amir Anwar of the University of Edinburgh, who co-wrote a book about Africa’s digital workforce. Some African freelances use virtual private networks and fake names to pretend they are somewhere else. Power cuts and competition for gigs from cheaper workers in Asia and beyond create other challenges. The available data suggests that it will take time for Africa to become a continent of digital freelances… (23 February 2023)


by Donovan McGrath

What the price of Zanzibari coconuts says about African development
(Economist online – UK) Islanders are chopping down trees as cities expand. Extract continues: Musa Haidar holds a coconut to his ear and shakes it from side to side. Its sloshing pleases the market trader, who puts the large brown ovoid back atop the pile at his stall on the outskirts of Zanzibar City, the main one on the east African island. His customers are less happy, however. A coconut going for 500 Tanzanian shillings ($0.20) a few years ago today sells for 1,500 shillings. That makes it more expensive to whip up curries or other dishes using coconut milk. “The prices you see,” says Mr Haidar, “they’re not normal. Coconuts have become expensive for local people.” Why have prices gone nuts? “People are chopping, chopping,” explains Omar Yusuf Juma, another coconut seller, swinging his machete for effect. A count in 2013-14 found just 3.4m coconut trees, down from 5.7m in the late 1990s. Since hungry Zanzibaris still demand creamy fish curries and beans in coconut milk, falling supply has led to higher prices. Nuts from the mainland are pricier because of high transport costs. The felling of coconut trees reflects how Zanzibar and the rest of Africa are urbanizing… As Zanzibar City has spread farther into erstwhile countryside, when people move to their new plots they chop down the coconut trees to make space for their new homes. Moreover, some houses, as well as many island hotels, have furniture made from coconut wood. Emmanuel Elias, a carpenter, explains that it is cheaper than imported alternatives. By law farmers cannot chop down fruit-bearing trees for furniture; in practice it is hard to stop them… (20 December 2022)

What Tanzania tells us about Africa’s population explosion as the world hits 8bn people
(Guardian online – UK) Dar es Salaam, which is heading for megacity status, typifies a region growing three times faster than the global average. Extract continues: As the global population reaches 8 billion … the effects of Tanzania’s rapid growth are evident. The population has increased by 37% over the past decade to almost 63 million according to the latest UN figures, and, projections suggest, is expected to grow between 2% and 3% a year until 2050. Tanzania will be one of eight countries responsible for more than half of the increase in global population over the next three decades: five of those countries will be in Africa… Dar es Salaam, the former Tanzanian capital, is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, and the number of people in the economic hub is expected to double by 2050 to more than 10 million, ranking it alongside such megacities as Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lagos in Nigeria and Cairo in Egypt. The country’s leaders have raised alarm at the numbers… [President] Samia Suluhu Hassan, called for better family planning, saying the high number of births will put pressure on education, healthcare and food… Hassan’s predecessor, John Magufuli, who died in 2021, had discouraged the use of contraceptives, saying Tanzania needed more people… For years, Magufuli suspended significant donor funding for family planning. “Family planning was not appreciated for that period of time,” said Suzana Mkanzabi, executive director of Umati, a sexual and reproductive health rights organization, adding that support for family planning has improved significantly under the new administration. But Magufuli’s policies will have a long-term impact… Tanzanian women have an average of four or five children – the global average is two. Larger families are culturally valued, and among poorer families, children provide security in old age in a country with few social protections. But with nearly half of the population under 15 or above 65, Tanzania is grappling with high dependency rates. It has fewer tax-paying citizens … The UN cites rapid population growth as a “cause” and “consequence” of slow progress development… As Tanzania grapples with its population spike, family planning will probably become a higher priority for the government. It currently spends only about 14bn shillings (£5m) on birth control each year, relying on dwindling donor resources to fill the gap. The government has pledged to increase that amount by 10% a year by 2030. Rights groups say that much more needs to be done. (15 November 2022)

‘Means of survival’: Tanzania’s booming charcoal trade drives unchecked deforestation

Cleared forest on the edge of Ruhoi reserve in eastern Tanzania. Photograph: Imani Nsamila/the Guardian

(Guardian online – UK) Extract: Large swathes of Ruhoi forest reserve in eastern Tanzania now lay bare … The forest is being cut down at an alarming rate to meet the growing demand for charcoal in the nearby city of Dar es Salaam. As a result of high gas prices, about 90% of Tanzanian households now use charcoal or firewood to cook, which is fueling rapid deforestation across the country. Between 2015 and 2020, the country lost almost 470,000 hectares (1.16. acres) of forest a year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The situation mirrors what is happening across much of Africa, where wood collection and charcoal production account for nearly half of the continent’s forest degradation. Deforestation is contributing to the climate crisis, says Saidi Mayoga, an army reserve officer who patrols Ruhoi’s 79,000-hectare reserve. “We’ve had a real problem with the heat and there’s very little rain.” For many loggers, however, environmental concerns take a back seat to more immediate economic needs. Almost 45% of Tanzanians live on about $2 (1.70) a day. “If I clear all the trees over here,” says Muharram Bakari, an illegal logger, pointing to the edges of the reserve, “I’ll just have to find another forest where I can harvest [them].” … Loggers can earn about 8,500 Tanzanian Shillings (£3) for a large bag of charcoal from brokers, who then sell it to wholesalers at a profit. But it’s the wholesalers who make the most money. They can sell the bag for up to 82,000 shillings in Dar es Salaam: almost 10 times the price it was bought for. As well as supporting families, the charcoal trade provides the government with a significant income stream. Local leaders say this is one of the biggest barriers to conservation efforts. According to government sources, the Tanzania Forest Services Agency makes about 11,300 shillings from the sale of a bag of charcoal. In 2019, earnings from the forestry sector – which includes trade in charcoal, firewood, logs, poles, honey, seeds and seedlings – contributed about 3% to GDP, with charcoal accounting for 44% of that figure. As such, the government gives out permits to loggers and has set targets on the number of bags each area of the country needs to produce each year. “We are being told on the one hand, that we need to meet certain thresholds of charcoal production, and on the other, to protect the forests,” says Mayoga. There are few checks by local or central government on how many trees are felled… Sixbert Mwanga, the executive director of Climate Action Network Tanzania, says: “If someone has a permit to harvest five tonnes, there is no mechanism to crosscheck whether that person has harvested five tonnes or 25, especially at the source.” The government attempted to ban charcoal production and trade in 2006, in an effort to reduce deforestation, but failed… However, the country’s leaders are now exploring ways to address the issue at its roots, by reducing the country’s dependency on biomass fuels… (13 December 2022)

Tanzania drops murder charges against 24 Maasai leaders
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: The officer died in June during protests against government plans to evict them from their ancestral land in Loliondo, in Ngorongoro District, to make way for conservation and a luxury hunting reserve… [C]harges for trespassing were dropped against 62 Maasai involved in the protests. The men’s lawyer, Paul Kisabo, said their detention was “politically motivated” and that there was “no legal justification” for it. “The charges and detainment were a misuse of the public system,” he said, adding that the director of public prosecutions gave no explanation for the decision to drop the charges. Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s regional director for east and southern Africa, said: “They should never have been arrested in the first place. Their only ‘crime’ was exercising their right to protest while security forces tried to seize land from them in the name of ‘conservation’.” Reports from the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders coalition said the Maasai leaders were taken into custody under false pretences, interrogated and then detained in an Arusha prison… The land in Loliondo has been subjected to a long dispute between the Maasai and the Tanzanian government. The government says that it falls within the boundaries of the Serengeti national park, and that the Maasai’s growing population is encroaching on its wildlife habitat. The Maasai dispute both claims… (25 November 2022)

Tanzania’s president calls for better birth control in country
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of Tanzania, has called for better birth control in the east African country in a dramatic reversal of the stance of her authoritarian predecessor, John Magufuli… Magufuli had described users of contraceptive as “lazy” and said that birth control was unnecessary because “education is now free” and food cheap. A committed Roman Catholic, the former president also banned young women from returning to school after pregnancy. Samia’s call for more birth control came after a visit to the west of Tanzania, where she learned that more than 1,000 children had been born in a single clinic in one month… Low levels of contraceptive use is one reason for high birth rates in Tanzania, where women have almost five children each on average, according to the World Bank. The number has dropped dramatically over recent years, down from nearly six 20 years ago and seven in 1980, but is still considered far too high… (19 October 2022)

‘Monstrous’ east African oil project will emit vast amounts of carbon, data shows
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: An oil pipeline under construction in east Africa will produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide, according to new analysis. The project will result in 379m tonnes of climate-heating pollution, according to an expert assessment, more than 25 times the combined annual emissions of Uganda and Tanzania, the host nations. The East African crude oil pipeline (EACOP) will transport oil drilled in a biodiverse national park in Uganda more than 870 miles to a port in Tanzania for export. The main backers of the multibillion dollar project are the French oil company TotalEnergies and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)… Richard Heede, at [the Climate Accountability Institute], said: “It is time for TotalEnergies to abandon the monstrous EACOP that promises to worsen the climate crisis, waste billions of dollars that could be used for good, bring mayhem to human settlements and wildlife along the pipeline’s path.” Heede described EACOP as a “mid-sized carbon bomb”… [T]he Guardian revealed that world’s biggest fossil fuel firms were quietly planning scores of carbon bomb oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits, with catastrophic global impacts. Omar Elmavi, coordinator of the Stop EACOP campaign, said: “EACOP and the associated oilfields in Uganda are a climate bomb that is being camouflaged … as an economic enabler to Uganda and Tanzania. It is for the benefit of people, nature and climate to stop this project.” … Some African countries argue they have the right to use fossil fuels to grow their economies, as rich western nations have done… EU lawmakers called for EACOP to be stopped … (27 October 2022)

Kate Ritchie awards Ramadhani brothers the Golden Buzzer after breath taking acrobatic act on Australia’s Got Talent leaves judges stunned
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: On … Australia’s Got Talent, two acrobats left the judges stunned and saw them awarded the Golden Buzzer. Tanzanian-based performers Ibrahim and Fadi Ramadhani, known as the Ramadhani Brothers, wowed the audience with a death-defying acrobatic act. The judges were visibly shocked by their feats, with Kate Ritchie grabbing her face in amazement… Kate was unable to keep her excitement to herself, slamming the Golden Buzzer and pushing the acrobats through to the Semi Final. ‘I can’t even string a sentence together because I’ve never seen anything like it ever in my life,’ Kate said to the pair… Ibrahim, 36, and Fadi, 26, have previously said they hope to win AGT and help children in their community. The pair are also aiming for a Guinness World Record for the most consecutive stairs climbed while balancing a person on the head… (16 October 2022)

State Department BLOCKED arrest of Peace Corps worker in Tanzania over drunk driving spree that left woman dead after he spent night with prostitute: US officials ‘thought he had diplomatic immunity’
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: Bombshell documents have revealed how the State Department blocked the arrest of a Peace Corps worker who left one woman dead and another seriously injured after a drunk driving spree – by claiming he had diplomatic immunity when he didn’t. John Peterson was ushered back to the US hours after fatally slamming his Toyota Rav4 into street-food seller Rabia Issa on the morning of August 24 2019, avoiding arrest by authorities in Dar es Salaam. He had spent the night before with a prostitute before embarking on the drink-driving spree, which also saw Peterson strike and injure a second woman. Now hundreds of pages of documents seen by USA Today give the clearest picture yet of the carnage Peterson caused and how the State Department falsely claimed he had diplomatic immunity from a breathalyser test after the drunken rampage. Peace Corps workers are not automatically granted diplomatic immunity while working abroad, unlike State Department workers. The US State Department claims its officials were confused about a diplomatic identification card he was issued by the Tanzanian government… Peterson was driving a sex worker he had paid $50 in exchange for oral sex from his US government-rented home back to her neighbourhood shortly after 5am when he claims a woman suddenly jumped in front of the car. Tanzanian authorities claim the unnamed victim was left ‘crushed and severely injured’ by the impact. That unidentified woman was not killed, with the woman Peterson did kill struck shortly afterwards. Escaping an angry crowd around his car after the first impact, Peterson claims he was heading for the nearby US embassy when he barrelled off the street and fatally struck another woman. That victim was Rabia Issa, a married mom-of-three who was setting up her food stall for the day. Her body was thrown over the hood of Peterson’s car, which continued to smash through a fence and other roadside stands. Despite the multiple collisions, Peterson carried on about half a mile further before his vehicle slammed into a light pole and came to a final stop. Furious bystanders gathered around the car and a tow truck repeatedly lifted and dropped the mangled Toyota Rav4 while a blood-soaked Peterson was still inside. Issa’s devastated brother even reached through the window and punched Peterson in the face. At the police station, Tanzanian police prepared a breathalyser test and shoved the tube into Peterson’s mouth while he resisted. However the US embassy staffers that joined Peterson at the station insisted he was a diplomat who did not have to comply, sensational records obtained by USA Today show. Peterson was told he was free to go as long as he returned to the station two days later. But Peterson was quickly flown back to America on the grounds that he needed surgery to his injured hand. This was despite one embassy worker noticing Peterson did not have immunity before his flight and raising it as a ‘point of clarification’ with an agency worker. He faced a grilling from federal state department investigators. But they could not charge him over lack of evidence, because other state department colleagues had allowed Peterson to leave the country before Tanzanian police could complete their investigation…. Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, blamed the confusion over Peterson’s immunity on a diplomatic identification card Peterson had been issued by the Tanzanian government… Peterson even continued to collect pay checks from Peace Corps for 18 months. His salary, unused vacation time and bonuses totalled more than $258,000. His victims – who signed settlements with Peace Corps to receive pay-outs for not making legal claims against the company of Peterson – received a lot less. Rabia Issa’s family were paid just $13,000. Her death certificate recorded just one word for her cause of death – ‘unnatural’. The first woman Peterson hit was paid roughly $6,500. The sex worker received about $2,200. (25 October 2022)

Tanzania scraps independence celebration, diverts funds to kids
(Al Jazeera online – UAE) Extract: Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan has cancelled Independence Day celebrations … and directed that the budget instead be used to build dormitories for children with special needs. The 61st Independence Day event was to cost $445,000, money that will be used to build eight dormitories in primary schools around the country. Tanzania’s Minister of State, George Simbachawene … said that instead of having parades and other national celebrations, the East African country will commemorate Independence Day by having public dialogues on development… This is not, however, the first time Tanzania has cancelled the celebrations. In 2015, then-President John Magufuli cancelled celebrations and diverted funds towards the building of a road in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. In 2020, he did the same and directed that the budget be used to buy medical facilities… (6 December 2022)


by Donovan McGrath

‘I stumbled across it’: the push to help Tanzania’s untapped football talent
(Guardian UK – online) Michael Noone went to Africa looking for a change and now has an academy for boys and girls in one of Tanzania’s poorest areas. Extract continues: When Michael Noone set off on his solo walk from Old Trafford to Wembley Stadium … to raise money for his football academy in Tanzania, it wasn’t the first time he had taken a journey into the unknown. A youth coach with experience of working in schools in Manchester, the United States and Canada, the 37-year-old was “looking for a change in my life” when he arrived in east Africa in March 2020. “I just kind of stumbled across it,” he says. “I came over with just a backpack and had nothing organised so I sort of just wandered around. I started volunteering in this orphanage, joined in a few games and found the football culture unbelievable. I’ve been coaching for many years and I’d played with some guys from east Africa before and they told me that there was so much hugely untapped talent here… Noone started coaching a group of players in Mivumoni, a small town about 300km north of Dar es Salaam in one of Tanzania’s poorest regions. He was so impressed with the standard that he set up the Route One Academy, which caters for 150 boys and girls from under-eights to under-18s. “Every week there were more and more who kept joining our group,” he says. “What started off as something casual has ended up with me wanting to stay and help.” … Noone adds: “My aim is now to try and improve that environment and showcase the ability that these players have. The skill levels here are really high… Mbwana Samatta’s short spell at Aston Villa in 2020 made him the first Tanzanian to play in the Premier League but Noone believes there is every chance plenty more could come if local players are given the right opportunities… (23 June 2022)

Meet Tanzania’s Lion Defenders: the hunters-turned-conservationists of the Barabaig tribe

Stephano Asecheka (second from left) and other “Lion Defenders” (photo CNN)

(CNN USA – online) Extract: There are 18 Lion Defenders in Ruaha. They monitor local lion populations and help to implement safe herding practices and fortify livestock enclosures. Lion Landscapes also provides technology to improve the safety of tribal communities as lion populations recover… Tracking and monitoring big cats through smartphones helps the lion populations to grow without increased risk to tribespeople… According to Lion Landscapes, since it began its work the killing of lions has decreased by more than 70% in the area of Ruaha National Park in which it operates. The Barabaig tribe in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania traditionally hunted lions that endangered their community – but with populations of the big cat dwindling, Barabaig warriors have become their protectors. Tanzania is home to roughly 50% of the lion population in sub-Saharan Africa, and around 800 of those lions live in Ruaha National Park. Many people in sub-Saharan Africa live in conflict with lions… In Ruaha National Park, warriors working with Lion Landscapes are known as “Lion Defenders.” The role is usually given to young hunters with good knowledge of the area and a comprehensive understanding of lion behaviour and how to track them… They monitor local lion populations and help to implement safe herding practices and fortify livestock enclosures… “The challenges Lion Defenders face is with some people in the community who are not in support of the project,” … says [Stephano Asecheka, who is from the Barabaig tribe]… According to Asecheka, taking tribespeople on tours in Ruaha National Park endears the community to the lions and helps them understand the value of the animals as a tourist draw that can boost the local economy. “They feel a sense of ownership and get to understand the right reasons to why we are protecting the lions,” he explains… (21 April 2022)

Rats to the rescue: Rodents are being trained to go into earthquake debris wearing backpacks with microphones so rescue teams can talk to survivors
(Daily Mail UK – online) Extract: Scientists are training rats to find earthquake survivors while wearing tiny backpacks with inbuilt microphones so rescue teams can locate and speak with them. Research scientist Dr Donna Kean, 33, from Glasgow, has been working in Morogoro, Tanzania over the past year for non-profit organisation APOPO on the project titled ‘Hero Rats’… Kean said: ‘Rats would be able to get into small spaces to get to victims buried in rubble… The rodents are trained to respond to a beep, which calls them back to the base… ‘We have the potential to speak to victims through the rat,’ Kean added… So far seven rats have been trained… (3 June 2022)

Greener pastures: Can ancient ecoengineering help fix our degraded landscapes?
(CNN USA – online) Extract: By removing trees and installing cell bunding – which creates water-tight pockets – Northern Ireland Water tried to determine if bunding could restore peatland, which naturally filters the country’s drinking water… Northern Ireland Water is already implementing cell bunding elsewhere… Bunds are simple structures that have been used for thousands of years to keep liquid in or out… The most basic consists of mounded earth. In terms of geoengineering, they’re about as low-tech as it comes, but when built strategically, their impact on the environment can be profound. Separate programs in as disparate climates as Tanzania and Northern Ireland are demonstrating bunding’s regenerative power – and the results could benefit both humans and nature. In Tanzania, a collaboration between non-profits Justdiggit and the LEAD Foundation is working with local communities to dig tens of thousands of bunds on arid land to harvest rainwater, as part of a massive regenerative effort backed by the UN. Angelina Tarimo, a coordinator at the LEAD Foundation, has been working with local communities in places such as Pembamoto, village in the Dodoma region, where desertification is a growing threat… Semi-circular shaped bunds trap water running off the ground and allow it to penetrate the earth. Grass seed sown inside the bunds grows, and over time greenery extends beyond the bund. Agriculture has had a negative impact on land in Tanzania, Tarimo says, with farmers clearing trees and native plants in order to grow crops, or allowing grassland to become overgrazed. This damages the soil structure and makes it more prone to erosion. As the ground is drier, when rain falls it is more likely water will run off the surface instead of infiltrating the ground, washing away fertile soil and perpetuating a drying cycle… Between sites in Tanzania and southern Kenya, over 200,000 bunds have been dug to date… (18 July 2022)

British hotelier locked up in Zanzibar ‘hell hole’ prison and his wife are freed after judge throws out money laundering charges
(Daily Mail UK – online) Extract: … The couple [Simon Woods and Francesca Scalfari], who run the four-star Sharazad Boutique Hotel in Zanzibar, faced 20 years in jail over money laundering charges after they fell out with two investors who had invested in their hotel. Police shaved Simon’s head when he was taken into custody before putting him in a cell with 200 other dangerous inmates, including murderers, at the Kilimani Prison, Wood’s family said… They also said the couple, who have lived on the island for 20 years, were denied basic needs – including access to water – and relatives weren’t allowed into the jail to see them on several occasions… (23 June 2022)

Tanzania identifies deadly outbreak of mystery disease as leptospirosis
(ABC News USA – online) Extract: A deadly outbreak of an unknown disease in Tanzania has been identified as leptospirosis, health officials said. More than 20 cases, including three deaths, have been reported in the southern Lindi region, with patients exhibiting symptoms similar to Ebola or Marburg virus diseases – fever, headache, fatigue and bleeding, especially from the nose, according to health officials. Preliminary results from laboratory testing … ruled out Ebola and Marburg viruses as well as COVID-19, making the illness a mystery – until now. Tanzanian Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu announced at a press conference … that samples from patients tested positive for leptospirosis, an infectious bacterial disease that affects both animals and humans. “I would like to inform the public that sample testing from patients has confirmed the outbreak is leptospirosis field fever or ‘homa ya Mgunda’ as it is known in Swahili,” Mwalimu said… Leptospirosis is transmitted directly or indirectly from animals to humans, mainly when people come into contact with the urine of infected animals or a urine-contaminated environment… Human-to-human transmission is rare, according to the WHO… (20 July 2022)

Why women in Tanzania face jail when their naked pictures are leaked to social media
(ITV UK – online) Extract: Mobile phone use in Tanzania has rocketed over the past 10 years, mostly due to the availability of cheaper smartphones. Millions in the East African nation have grown used to socialising, banking and learning wherever they want – but Asha Abinallah feels “lucky” she came of age before the smartphone boom. As connectivity increases, so does the amount of people seeking help from Ms Abinallah’s organisation, complaining they’ve had naked pictures leaked without their consent. The subjects are overwhelmingly young, female, “naïve and in love”, Ms Abinallah, head of digital empowerment organisation Women at Web explains. “But the perpetrators are usually people they love.” For victims of non-consensual intimate image abuse, consequences can include isolation, suicide and even a criminal conviction. Strict anti-pornography laws introduced in 2016 mean publishing pornography online, or “causing” it to be published, is punishable by a fine of not less than 20 million Tanzanian shillings (around £6,900) or at least three years in jail. Thanks to the liberal interpretation of the law, there’s a trend of [the women] being punished, rather than the person who leaked [the images]… (26 May 2022)

In Tanzania, karate classes imbues vigour in people with albinism
(Al Jazeera Qatar/UK/USA – online) Extract: Now that he’s learned to fight, Hassan Farahani doesn’t feel the need to do so anymore. “When people make jokes or harass me in the street, now I just leave. I have the confidence of martial arts—my strength is here,” he says, gesturing towards his chest. Farahani, 29, is part of a group of Tanzanians with albinism learning karate in Dar es Salaam, their country’s largest city… Their goal is not just to learn self-defence, but to one day become karate instructors themselves, teaching future generations of Tanzanians with albinism about karate, discipline, and self-confidence… In Tanzania, an estimated 1 in 1,400 people in the country have albinism, compared to a rate of about 1 in 20,000 in the United States. So people with the condition there are subject of daily discrimination with their light skin instantly setting them apart as targets. Myths and superstitions surrounding Tanzanians with albinism: that they are immortal, that they aren’t human but instead ghosts, or that they are cursed by a deity. Many have been attacked, mutilated and even killed for their body parts, which are believed to hold magical powers. Witchdoctors use these body parts for potions and spells meant to heal sickness, grant political power or bestow wealth and success… The training programme was founded by Jerome Mgahama, a karate instructor for over 20 years and founder of the Japanese Karate Association club in Dar es Salaam… He was inspired to start it after demonstrating martial arts for children with albinism at summer camps organized by NGOs and religious groups in Tanzania… (8 July 2022)

Visiting Dignitary: Mission Creep

(The New Yorker – USA) Extract: Mission: Her Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, the sixth President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and its first female head of state, desires a stroll through Central Park. Objective: To correct certain impressions advanced by Hassan’s predecessor, John Magufuli (nickname: the Bulldozer), who largely closed off Tanzania to the rest of the world and whose COVID strategy centered on three days of national prayer, after which he proclaimed, “The Corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God.” … Hassan, who was vaccinated publicly, is on a good-will tour of the United States, declaring Tanzania again open to visitors, investors, and science. … [S]he attended a summit with Kamala Harris. In New York, she will appear at the premiere of “The Royal Tour,” a PBS program in which Hassan guides the host, Peter Greenberg, around her country for nine days—Zanzibar, Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro. She hopes to attract American tourists… (16 May 2022) – Editor: Thanks to Elsbeth Court for this item.

Award given to UN Biodiversity Chief

Alexandre Antonelli, Kew’s Director of Science and Chair of the Trustees, Dame Amelia Fawcett, awarding Elizabeth Maruma Mrema with the Kew International Medal – RBG Kew

(Kew Magazine – UK) Extract: Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been awarded the 15th Kew International Medal for her vital work in championing the importance of biodiversity conservation… For over two decades, Elizabeth, a Tanzanian biodiversity leader and lawyer, has held various positions at the UN Environment Program (UNEP) focusing on environmental laws. She will be leading efforts to secure ambition and agreement on a critical new framework for halting biodiversity loss and promoting sustainable development at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, later this year. In a keynote lecture at Kew to accept the award, she highlighted the importance of plant science in finding solutions to urgent crises in nature. ‘Biodiversity loss is our shared burden. It’s also our shared responsibility,’ said Elizabeth. (Summer 2022) Thanks to Elsbeth Court for this item – Editor

Record-breaking Tanzanian ruby exposed in Dubai
(Africa News Republic of Congo/France – online) Extract: The magnificent gemstone which weighs 2.8 kilograms was presented to the public for the first time … in Dubai…. According to mineral experts, the greenish and purplish stone could be auctioned for 120 million dollars. In Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania are one of the main ruby producing countries… (17 April 2022)


by Donovan McGrath

War in Ukraine: Why Vladimir Putin couldn’t have trained fighters in Africa

Image falsely claimed to show Putin

(BBC online – UK) A black and white image which some people falsely claim shows Russian President Vladimir Putin training liberation movements in southern Africa, has been circulating. Extract continues: It has been used by some to justify why African countries should support Russia in the war in Ukraine… The photograph was widely shared online after it was posted in Zimbabwean blogs at the end of 2018. The posts claimed it shows Mr Putin in a Tanzanian military training camp for southern African independence movements in 1973… “Putin stayed in Tanzania training freedom fighters for four years from 1973 to 1977,” the blogs also claim. However, there is no evidence either from Russian or African records of Mr Putin, who was born in 1952, having been to the continent during the 1970s. Mr Putin’s profile on the Kremlin website show that he was studying at the Leningrad State University at the time, and graduated in 1975. Also outside training offered to Mozambican freedom fighters in camps in Tanzania was largely conducted by Chinese instructors, not Soviet ones… Although the man pictured is thought to be a Soviet official, so far no-one has been able to confirm his actual identity… (15 March 2022)

Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island Helps Ukrainians Stranded by Russia’s Invasion
(VoA news online – USA) Extract: Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi on Monday said they were helping about 900 Ukrainians who were there on vacation when Russia invaded their country … Authorities said the Ukrainians are not able to safely return home but cannot stay on the Tanzanian island as local media reported they are running out of money. In comments sent to the press, Mwinyi said they have initiated talks with hotel owners on how they can help these people. He said they will help the Ukrainians until their government is ready to come to their assistance… Officials with the Ukrainian Embassy in Kenya said, “Zanzibar is a pretty popular tourism destination for Ukrainian nationals, so it was clear that there would be an issue. We contacted the tour operators who sent the tourists to Zanzibar. We realize that we have about 1,000 people – we got in touch with Zanzibar to see the possible measures and possible ways how the Tanzanian government can cooperate with the Zanzibars to protect our nationals.” … Zanzibar’s tourism ministry says the country received more than 2,300 Ukrainian tourists and more than 18,000 Russian tourists in 2020… Tanzania … [has] ordered its few hundred citizens living in Ukraine to leave the country. (1 March 2022)

International students trapped in Ukraine appeal for urgent evacuation
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: International students trapped in a Ukrainian town near the Russian border have made desperate appeals for evacuation, as the number thought to be stranded in Sumy has risen to between 1,200 and 1,500, and they are running out of basic supplies… [l]t emerged that 500 foreign students were stuck in the city, including almost 400 Nigerians, three Irish students and pupils from Rwanda, Lebanon and Tanzania… (4 March 2022)

Landmine-hunting hero rat dies in Cambodia after stellar career
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000 square metres of land – the equivalent of 42 football pitches – over the course of his career… Magawa was the first rat to receive a medal from British veterinary charity PDSA in the 77 years of the awards, joining an illustrious band of brave canines, felines – and even a pigeon… (12 January 2022)

9 million children to be vaccinated against polio in Africa
(Washington Post online – USA) Extract: … The urgent vaccination campaign has started in Malawi where drops of the inoculation are being placed in the mouths of children across the country, including in the capital, Lilongwe, and the country’s largest city, Blantyre. The vaccination campaign will be expanded … to include the neighbouring countries of Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, according to UNICEF which is working with the governments and other partners… In Tanzania, UNICEF has trained more than 2,000 health workers, 5,128 social mobilizers and 538 town criers, and facilitated the procurement of 3,000 vaccine carriers and 360 cold boxes, expected to be delivered in April 2022 for use in the upcoming rounds of campaigns… (22 March 2022)

U.S. will ‘surge’ vaccine support to 11 African countries
(Washington Post online – USA) The initiative aims to protect Americans and the world from new coronavirus variants. Extract continues: The Biden administration will “surge” more that $250 million in coronavirus vaccine assistance to 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including several where the omicron variant was first identified, as it ramps up efforts to help vaccinate the world, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post and confirmed by global health officials… According to a Global VAX initiative “field guide” shared with diplomatic contacts, the United States will prioritize countries in sub-Saharan Africa – starting with Angola, Cote d’lvoire, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia -to “receive intensive support” for their vaccination campaigns through in-person staffing, technical assistance and more diplomatic engagement. Those countries have generally vaccinated fewer than 40 percent of their populations against coronavirus, according to the Our World in Data tracking project at the University of Oxford … (17 February 2022)

A jaw-some find! Scientists discover the fossilised remains of a new species of ‘crocodile-like beast’ that roamed what is now Tanzania 240 million years ago – and had ‘powerful jaws with knife-like teeth’
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: … Palaeontologists at the University of Birmingham said the beast, or ‘Mambawakale ruhuhu’, would have reached more than 16 feet long. Its newly-assigned name means ‘ancient crocodile from the Ruhuhu Basin’ in Kiswahili, one of the two official languages of the East African region… Stalking ancient Tanzania, M. ruhuhu ‘would have been a very large and pretty terrifying predator,’ Professor Butler said. Walking on all fours and sporting a long tail, he added, this archosaur is ‘one of the largest predators that we know from the Middle Triassic.’ The fossils were first unearthed from the Ruhuhu Basin back in 1963 – just two years after Tanzania (then known as Tanganyika) gained independence from Britain – as part of a joint British Museum (Natural History) – University of London expedition. The type of specimen comprised a 2.5-foot-long skull with a lower jawbone and a largely complete left hand. It was located and recovered with the aid of Tanzanian and Zambian individuals who went unnamed in associated field reports… [l]n using words from Kiswahili – honours ‘the substantial and previously unsung contributions of unnamed Tanzanians to the success of the 1963 expedition.’ … (10 February 2022)

Tanzania revives stone arch bridge construction for river crossings

Stone arch construction in Kigoma region –

(New Civil Engineer online- UK) Extract: It is common for residents of the Kigoma region in north west Tanzania to make dangerous crossings of rivers to reach workplaces, schools, hospitals and markets during the rainy season. But for many, such journeys will soon no longer be necessary as a result of a new bridge construction programme. Removing the inherent risks involved in crossing rivers could also bring global benefits. Safe year-round river crossings are being delivered with the construction of 70 stone arch bridges, as part of Belgian development agency Enabel’s Sustainable Agriculture Kigoma Region Project (SAKiRP). [C]o-funded by the Belgian and Tanzanian governments… The aim of the project, launched in 2016, is to upgrade agriculture value chains but it also resulted in a new approach to bridge construction… “One of the interventions in the value chain is to improve the access to markets for smallholder farmers and that’s where the bridges come in,” says Enabel junior expert rural infrastructure Willem van der Voort. In a country where reinforced concrete bridges are the most common form of river crossing, a decision to construct stone arch ones is unconventional. Enabel opted for this bridge type because of experience gained in Congo and Uganda in its previous incarnation as the Belgian Technical Cooperation. Projects in those countries showed that stone arch bridges are cost efficient, allowing for more to be built with available budgets. Tanzania’s stone arch bridge construction programme started in early 2018 and already 44 have been completed. There has been no shortage of expertise among local engineers and craftsmen, thanks to a detailed construction manual compiled by Enabel… (25 February 2022)

Internet blimps are coming to Zanzibar. But can a UK company succeed where Google failed?
(CNN online – USA) Extract: The Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar and Pemba are about to become a test site for a mobile internet network its creators hope will not just revolutionize lives there, but possibly across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Only around 20% of Tanzanians use the internet, according to the World Bank. That’s low, even for sub-Saharan Africa where usage is affected by limited internet coverage and compounded by high data costs and low digital literacy. However, change will soon be written in the sky… UK company World Mobile is launching a hybrid network using aerostats- blimp-like tethered balloons that it says will provide near-blanket coverage across the islands. Two solar-powered, helium-filled balloons will float 300 meters (984 feet) above land and have a broadcast range of around 70km (44 miles) apiece, using 3G and 4G frequencies to deliver their signal… “We get the sharing economy right in Zanzibar, we prove that at scale in Kenya and Tanzania, and then the rest of the world is ours,” [World Mobile CEO Micky Watkins] says. (12 January 2022)


by Donovan McGrath

Tanzanian opposition leader Freeman Mbowe in court to face charges
(Aljazeera online – UAE) Extract: Freeman Mbowe, leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party, has appeared in court to face “terrorism” charges, in a case denounced by his supporters as a politically motivated move aimed at crushing dissent. The 59-year-old chairman of the Chadema party has been behind bars since July 21 when he was arrested along with other senior party officials in a night-time police raid just hours before they were to hold a public forum to demand constitutional reforms… The opposition has denounced the arrests as a throwback to the oppressive rule of Tanzania’s late leader John Magufuli who died suddenly in March. There had been hope that [Salmia Suluhu] Hassan would bring about a new era of democracy after the increasingly heavy-handed rule of Magufuli but Chadema leaders say the arrests of Mbowe and his colleagues reflect a deepening slide into “dictatorship”…. (31 August 2021) Thanks to John Rollinson who informed me of two brief mentions of Freeman Mbowe’s court appearances published in the weekly politics section of the Economist – Editor

‘No power to stop it’: optimism turns to frustration over east Africa pipline
(Guardian online – UK) Promised an income, those affected by $20bn oil project are losing their land and resources instead. Extract continues: The villagers in the Kijungu settlements welcomed the project when the route was announced in 2017, hoping that the government and companies involved would buy their land and change their lives for good. Their optimism has since given way to frustration. Adrin Tugume, 53, depends on her land to feed her 10 children and sell bananas, cassava, beans and maize. Although construction is not yet under way, she has been asked to stay off the portion of land where the pipeline will be built. “I was stopped from using my land for three years. It is where we get food for our children… The opposition to the project is not just about humanitarian concerns. The east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP) will transport oil 900 miles (1,450km) from the shores of Lake Albert on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo through Tanzania to the port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean… Uganda and Tanzania signed agreements with the French oil and gas company Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). The pipeline will pass through the habitats of at-risk species. It could jeopardise community water sources and pollute the air, and its construction will be intrusive and noisy. In Shinyanga in Tanzania, local government authorities have admitted that environmental disturbance is inevitable. The $20bn (£14.8bn) project … comes as world leaders are aiming to divest from fossil fuels. The pipeline will contribute to the climate crisis, locking in more oil use and planet heating emissions for decades to come. Total did not respond to a request for comment, while CNOOC’s spokesperson said it was committed to avoiding environmental damage… In Tanzania … an environmental impact statement prepared for the companies noted that vulnerable or endangered species had been found in the pipeline’s path, including elephants, hippos and lions… (7 November 2021)

Tanzania: Seven die in Zanzibar after eating poisonous turtle meat
(BBC online – UK) Seven people, including a three-year-old, have died on Tanzania’s Pemba Island after eating poisonous turtle meat. Extract continues: The meat is a common delicacy among those living on Tanzania’s islands and coastal areas but the authorities have now banned the consumption of turtles in the area. In rare cases turtle meat can be toxic because of a type of food poisoning known as chelonitoxism. Its exact cause is not known but it is thought to be linked to poisonous algae which the turtles eat, according to the Turtle Foundation charity. At least five families on Pemba, which is part of the semi-autonomous Zanzibar islands, ate the turtle meat … local police commander Juma Said Hamis told the BBC. The effects were first felt the next day and the three-year-old was the first to die. Two others died that night and then four more [later on]. A further 39 people were admitted to hospital… [I]n Madagascar, 19 people, including nine children, died after eating turtle meat, the AFP news agency reported at the time. Cases have also been reported in Indonesia, Micronesia and India’s Indian Ocean islands. (29 November 2021)

Twitter removes more than 3,000 accounts related to state-linked operations from countries including China, Russia and Mexico
(Mail online – UK) Extract: …The Twitter accounts that were removed were linked to operations attributed to six countries: Mexico, China, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda and Venezuela. In a blog post, Twitter said that ‘every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service.’ … It is not yet known how Twitter knew which accounts to remove, but the blog post did outline that: … [in the case of Tanzania] A network of 268 accounts dedicated to filing bad faith reports against free speech platform Fichua Tanzania were removed … (2 December 2021)

In conversation with Jane Goodall on climate change – and remaining hopeful for the future
(Washington Post online – USA) Extract: A half century ago, Jane Goodall was spending months at a time sitting in the Gombe forest in what is now Tanzania waiting for wild chimps to approach her so that she could observe their behaviour. Her superhuman patience paid off. The young researcher discovered that chimps are more like us than we had imagined – lavishing affection on their young, forming social hierarchies, making tools and even warring with rival bands. But Goodall says that her most vital work began when she left the forest and started traveling across the globe to talk about climate change and the tragic loss of biodiversity. The pandemic has kept the 87-year-old naturalist at home in Bournemouth, England, where she continues to speak out online, especially with young people participating in “Roots & Shoots,” a volunteer program which she organized that empowers young people in 60 countries to work in their communities to improve the lives of humans, animals and the environment. She’s also been working on “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” [published October 2021]. In a series of dialogues with co-author Douglas Abrams, she spells out her four reasons for hope: the amazing human intellect; the resilience of nature; the power of young people; and the indomitable human spirit. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Goodall spoke on climate change, the state of the planet and why she has not yet given up hope on the human species… Q: Isn’t it a bit audacious to come out with a book about hope at this moment when so many are feeling anxious and fearful? What makes you hopeful? A: I was 5 years old when World War II began. There was a time when Britain stood alone in Europe against the might of Nazi Germany. The rest of Europe was overrun and defeated, or they capitulated. Actually there was no good reason for hope. We didn’t have the defenses. We hadn’t built up an adequate army, navy or air force. But we did have some very brave young men, and we had [Winston] Churchill saying “We’ll fight on the beaches, we’ll fight in the cities, we’ll fight in the lanes and we will not be defeated.” I think we can prevail now with the same spirit… “We will defeat covid, we will fight to prevent another pandemic.” Q: Some people say that we need to go through a period of real destruction before humans are moved to actually change the way we operate. A: Well yes, when I say “good news” don’t get me wrong, but the good news for climate change is that no longer is it mainly in the news about countries like Bangladesh, but it’s hitting the Western world. Think of the recent Hurricane Ida in the U.S., think of the flooding in Europe. It’s when people get personally hit by these things that they start to realize – “Wow, this is really terrible we need to do something about it.” Q: Much of the land around Gombe forest has been deforested. You speak in the book about how you’ve been inspired by young people and others are helping to restore it. A: Years ago I flew over this bleak landscape, the Gombe Forest surrounded by bare hills because there were more people than the land could support struggling to survive, cutting down the trees on the slopes in a desperate effort to get more land for crops and to make charcoal. That’s when it hit me: If we don’t help these people to find ways of making a living without destroying the environment, we can’t save chimps, forests or anything else. Now we don’t have bare hills around Gombe thanks to our TACARE [or “Take Care”] program, which has been planting trees and working with the villagers to help improve their lot. Alleviating poverty is a major task. But we need to do it if we are going to save the environment… Q: You say in your new book that humans are intellectual but not necessarily intelligent. What’s the difference? A: The intellect solves problems and it can do intricate mathematics and work out what’s out there in the universe, galaxies and solar systems and so on. But if your intelligent, you don’t destroy your only home, that isn’t intelligent. We seem to have lost wisdom… (19 October 2021)

Britain moves to ban big-game hunters from bringing trophies back into country
(Washington Post online – USA) Extract: Trophies of endangered and threatened species killed by hunters will soon be banned from being shipped to Britain, according to a government proposal that has been called one of the toughest in the world. The proposed ban … would cover nearly 7,000 animal species, including lions, rhinoceroses and elephants that many big-game hunters seek. It would be notable for including some 1,000 animals with “near-threatened” status. Over the past half-century or so, the world’s wild animal population has dropped by an average of 68 percent across different monitored species, according to a World Wildlife report from 2020. The decrease is primarily attributed to the loss of natural habitat, although some species, such as the Plains zebra, are threatened by hunting… Big-game hunters say that they contribute to local economies, a point disputed by conservation groups, which regard the activity as cruel and bad for biodiversity… British hunting enthusiasts often travel abroad – top destinations for trophy hunters globally include Tanzania and Zimbabwe – where they can obtain licenses to shoot wild animals according to animal welfare advocacy groups… (11 December 2021)

Fossil footprints hint at mystery hominin with unusual walking style
(New Scientist online – UK) Extract: Ancient footprints that were originally thought to have been made by a bear walking on two legs were actually made by an extinct human species. The discovery means there are now three known sets of hominin footprints from the same locale in Tanzania. It isn’t clear which hominin species made the prints. The authors of a new study say they don’t match the other sets of footprints at Laetoli, a site in Tanzania, so were probably made by a different species. If this is true, it would mean that two hominin species coexisted in the same region at the same time… (1 December 2021)

Bidders for Unilever’s tea business pulled out on plantation concerns
(Business Fast online – UK) Extract: Two of the three final bidders for Unilever’s tea division baulked at taking on the company’s plantations because of concerns about working conditions, according to people familiar with the matter. The tea division, which included PG Tips and Lipton brands, was sold … to CVC Capital Partners for €4.5bn. But the Luxembourg-based buyout group was left as the only bidder willing to buy the whole division after Carlyle and Advent International decided they could not take on tea plantations in east Africa, which face difficult questions over human rights and fair pay… Advent had grown increasingly concerned about accepting responsibility for the health, welfare and security of thousands of plantation workers, one of the people familiar with the matter said. Bosses on the plantations have power not only over workers’ jobs but also their housing and medical care, as the sites are often in remote areas and rely on workers brought in from elsewhere… Around 8,500 people are permanently employed on the Unilever plantations in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, and this rises to about 16,000 when temporary workers are added in peak season, Unilever said… (19 November 2021)

Climate change will melt Africa’s last glaciers ‘within two decades’
(Times online – UK) Extract: Africa’s last mountain glaciers will disappear within two decades, the United Nations has said. The UN World Meteorological Organisation’s latest annual report said that the glaciers on Mount Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Rwenzori range along the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda are receding faster than the global average and will have melted entirely by the 2040s. The glaciers of all three ranges have shrunk by more than 80 per cent in the past 100 years as a result of rising temperatures caused by man-made climate change. Mount Kenya is expected to be the first peak to lose its glaciers completely, with the ice at its summit forecast to melt away within the next 10 years…(24 October 2021)

Fastest growing cities in Africa 2021
(Business Insider Africa online – Nigeria) This article gives a top ten list of the fastest growing cities on the African continent in 2021, according to the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) research. Tanzania, which is of interest here, is listed in tenth place (Ghana’s capital, Accra, is listed in first place, and Nairobi in ninth place). Extract: According to Brahima Coulibaly, director of Brookings’ Africa Growth Initiative, “About half of the world’s fastest-growing economies will be located on the continent, with 20 economies expanding at an average rate of 5% or higher over the next five years, faster than the 3.6% rate for the global economy.” By 2050, Africa’s population is anticipated to reach about 2 billion inhabitants, and more economic activities are taking place, counterbalancing the increasing population. … Dar es Salaam has more than 6 million inhabitants making it the largest city in the country… Considering the population of 3.4 million from the census data obtained in 2005, it is projected that by 2025 the population of Dar es Salaam will be about 6.2 million [a rise of] 82%. (3 December 2021)


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 Donovan McGrath

1998 U.S. Embassy Bombing Victims Are Assured Equal Compensation in Deal With Sudan
(New York Times online – USA) Extract: Victims of the 1998 bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa will soon receive up to $485 million in compensation as part of a wide-ranging settlement to remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism and, in turn, foster peace in Israel. But the deal, which is part of the $2.3 trillion spending package that Congress is poised to approve … leaves Sudan liable for potentially billions of dollars in additional payments to the families of those who were killed in Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The agreement largely puts to rest months of furious negotiations between the Trump administration and Congress over how to help Sudan’s fragile transitional government and debt-ridden economy by settling many of the lawsuits that accused the country of harboring Al Qaeda, mostly during the 1990s. It also ensures that American victims of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania – whether they were United State citizens at the time of the attacks or naturalized later – will receive equitable compensation by adding up to $150 million in payouts in addition to the $335 million that Sudan has committed… (21 December 2020)

Mine that produced Queen’s diamond investigates claims of abuses by guards
(Guardian online – UK) Petra Diamonds already faces court action on similar grounds, as its contractors are accused of continued assaults on illegal miners. Extract continues: A Tanzanian mine that produced a flawless pink dia­mond for one of the Queen’s favourite brooches is investigating claims that security personnel have shot and assaulted illegal miners. New allegations come months after a lawsuit alleging “serious” human rights abuses was filed against Petra Diamonds, the mine’s British owner, in the high court in London. In September 2020, the British legal firm Leigh Day filed claims of human rights violations, including deaths, on behalf of 35 Tanzanians who allege that they, or their relatives, had been beaten or shot at by security guards at the Williamson diamond mine. Petra, whose subsidiary Williamson Diamonds Ltd (WDL) owns 75% of the mine (the Tanzanian state owns the other 25%), said it took the allegations “extremely seriously” … The firm said it had recorded 79 “incursions” at the 30 sq km (12 sq mile) Williamson site over the three-month period, 19 of which required “reasonable force” to remove illegal miners from the premises or for security to defend themselves. Petra said it did not find evidence of unjustified use of force by security personnel or injuries as described in Raid’s [Rights and Accountability in Development] allegations [that illegal miners had been detained, tortured and beaten by Williamson security guards, resulting in at least seven deaths]. In one alleged incident . . . one artisanal miner told Raid he was chased by a security guard from the mine’s private contractor, Zenith Security, who shot him at close range, breaking his jaw. . . Petra has suspended the mine’s chief of security and head of general services pending the investigation’s outcome, and has also put out a tender for a new security contractor to replace Zenith. The company said it has also provided security and human rights training to staff, implemented a grievance mechanism, and is looking into providing an artisanal tail­ings project, whereby local people can dig for diamonds in a controlled and formalised manner… (5 March 2021)

Tanzanian police confirm 45 people died in a stadium crush
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: A crush at a Tanzanian stadium has killed 45 people as mourners paid their last respects to the late President John Magufuli, police have said – many times more than the five fatalities initially announced after the disaster on 21 March. Police in the port city of Dar es Salaam, where the tragedy occurred, attributed some of the deaths to people being starved of oxygen at the event due to overcrowding. “It is true that 45 people died because of stampedes and failing to get enough air,” Lazaro Mambosasa Dar es Salaam’s zonal police commander, told Reuters on Tuesday. Another 37 mourners were injured, he said, adding that they had all been treated in hospital and discharged. Tanzania media reported that the crush happened when large numbers of mourners sought to force their way into the stadium through unofficial entrance points… (30 March 2021) Thanks to John Rollinson for notifying me about this article – Editor

Early humans living in Tanzania two million years ago had already developed the skills and tools to survive climate change, study finds
(Mail online – UK) Extract: … Archaeologists from the Max Planck Institute studied changes to the environment and habitats of early hominins at the Oldupai Gorge heritage site in Tanzania. Also known as the ‘Cradle of Humankind’, new field work at the site revealed our ancestors remained stable despite environment changes over 200,000 years. These early humans stayed in a habitat continuously throughout – despite having to cope with global warming, wildfires, droughts and volcanic eruptions. It shows migrations ‘out of Africa’ were possible even during the early human periods – as our ancestors possessed the ability to expand into new ecosystems… Excavations at Tanzania’s Odlupai Gorge, previously known as the Olduvai Gorge, uncovered the presence of hominins – our most primitive ancestors – that lived between two and one point eight million years ago. The oldest form of stone tools, known as Oldowan, were also unearthed, along with a wide variety of mammal fossils including wild cattle, pigs, hippos, panthers, lions, hyena, primates, reptiles and birds – all had been butchered for food. . . Remains of one of the first hominins were found just 350 metres away from this site in deposits dating back 1.82 million years. Known as Homo habilis, the four foot tall species had a short body, long arms like an ape’s – and a big brain. Its name translates as ‘handy man’ after his tool skills. Despite having to cope with persistent weather catastro­phes, the area remained occupied by early humans – proving they could adapt to climate change… (7 January 2021)

Australian women’s rights activist faces charges in Tanzania
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: An Australian ex-Muslim women’s rights activist faces “politically motivated” charges in Tanzania, including for a tweet allegedly critical of the country’s president, according to her supporters. The Australian government is providing consular assistance to Zara Kay, 28, the founder of Faithless Hijabi, a group set up two years ago to support women who are ostracized or face violence if they leave or question Islam. Kay tweeted … she was “going into the police sta­tion because someone reported me in for blasphemy” and a few days later told her supporters she was out on bail but “still quite traumatized from everything”… According to the statement, the charges relate to three issues, including “a social media post deemed to be critical of the president of Tanzania” over the handling of Covid-19 in the east African country. The International Coalition of Ex-Muslims said Kay was also accused of not returning her Tanzanian passport after gaining Australian citizenship, but added that “she never returned her Tanzanian passport as she misplaced and never used it after gaining Australian citizenship”. The coalition said the final issue was of a mobile sim card registered in a family member’s name rather than her own name, under legislation that the group said “has been used to persecute other high-profile cases”. . . “The International Coalition of Ex-Muslims reiterates its call on the Tanzanian government to immediately drop all the charges against Zara Kay and allow her to leave the country … Kay, who was raised a Shia Muslim in Tanzania, told the Australian newspaper in 2019 that she had been forced to wear the hijab from the age of eight but took it off when she moved to Australia to study in her late teens… (3 January 2021)

UK bans flights from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo in latest bid to stop South African ‘more vaccine resistant’ Covid strain spreading here
(Mail online – UK) Extract: … The decision comes after UK’s chief sci­entific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned … that coronavirus variants were a ‘real issue of concern’. Scientists believe the vaccines currently being rolled out may be less effective against the South African vari­ant, known as 501Y.V2… [Transport Secretary Grant Shapps] tweeted: ‘To help to stop the spread of the Covid-19 variant identified in South Africa, we are banning all arrivals from Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo … All passengers from these countries except British and Irish Nationals and third country nationals with residents rights will be denied entry…’ (21 January 2021)

Mystery of the eerie humanoid paintings discovered in Tanzania which are hundreds of years old yet DON’T match up with the tradi­tions of its Sandawe people

Rock paintings at the Amak’hee 4 site in Swaga Swaga game reserve, Dodoma. The researchers suggest the three figures have stylised buffalo heads. Photo Cambridge University Press / Maciej Grzelczyk.

(Mail online – UK) Extract: Ancient paintings of humanoid figures, bizarre creatures and familiar animals have been discovered under a rock overhang that was once used as a shelter ‘several hundred of years ago.’ A team from the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland spotted the four paintings while excavating the Amak’hee 4 rock shelter site in Tanzania that was once home to the ancient Sandawe indigenous group, which have been around for 87,000 years. Although many of paintings show are unknown figures, some depict domesticated cattle, buffalo and giraffes, which suggests that artists lived during the hunter-gather era. Researchers note that most are in good condition, mainly due to a rock overhang that protects them from flowing water and sunlight, but because there currently is not a way to date rock art, the team can only guess when it was painted. The Sandawe are an indigenous group from South Africa and population is still living today. Early work shows that the group may also have the oldest human DNA lineage and the Sandawe today are considered to be decedents of an original Bushmen-like group, the Gogo… (11 February 2021)

Tanzania’s new president surely can’t be worse than the old one
(The Economist online – UK) Will Samia Suluhu Hassan reverse one of the most self-defeating coronavirus policies in the world? Extract continues: … For the moment liberal Tanzanians are surprisingly upbeat, in part because they do not take Ms Samia, the country’s first female leader, at her word. She is a product of the ruling party, known by its initials CCM, which has held power in different guises since independence from Britain in 1961. But she is no insider. She comes from the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, not the Tanganyika mainland, which is the hub of power. Ms Samia was Magufuli’s vice-president, but it is rumoured that she was foisted on him by CCM bigwigs. Foremost among these was Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president from 2005 to 2015, who is said to have admired her competent efficiency. Mr Magufuli valued it less and she was excluded from his inner circle. That is now seen as a reason for hope—as are the flashes of principle she has shown. In 2017, for example, she defied a presidential directive by visiting Tundu Lissu, a prominent opposition MP, as he recovered from being shot 16 times. Still, few are expecting a radical departure from her predecessor’s policies. Not yet, anyway. Lacking a base within the party, Ms Samia will be concentrating on surviving the early stages of her presidency (inherited in accordance with the constitution), when she will be weakest. Mr Magufuli’s faction still holds dominant posi­tions in the cabinet and the party. She is not totally helpless, however. She many not have a base of her own, but she does have potential allies. With the support of Mr Kikwete’s previously sidelined faction, she was able to resist pressure to appoint Bashiru Ally, a Magufuli acolyte, as her deputy. Instead she tapped Philip Mpango, the finance minister, pleasing international donors. Still, she will have to avoid becoming too reliant on Mr Kikwete… (3 April 2021) Thanks to John Rollinson for this item – Editor

Endangered black rhino heads to Africa from Yorkshire
(BBC News online – UK) A rare black rhino is being sent from a North Yorkshire wildlife park to Africa as part of a conservation scheme. Extract continues: Eight year old female Chanua will eventually be released into a herd of wild rhinos in Tanzania. The black rhino is classed as critically endangered, with fewer than 6,000 in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss… Chanua was born at Chester Zoo in 2012 before being moved to North Yorkshire three years later. She will spend a few weeks in Kent with other female rhinos before being flown to Tanzania. When she arrives in Africa she will have to be weaned off her captive diet and adjust to eating local vegetation before being released. Gordon Gibb owner of Flamingo Land said it was the second black rhino from the park to be returned to Africa. Three years ago another female was sent to Rwanda… (10 March 2021)

Why it’s so hard to prosecute wildlife crimes: Lessons from Tanzania
(Mail & Guardian online – South Africa) Extract: Developments in two major ivory trafficking cases in Tanzania are not what conservationists might have hoped for. The conviction of Boniface Mathew Malyango, known as “Shetani Hana Huruma” (“the Devil has no mercy” in Kiswahili), was hailed by conservation organisations as a victory in 2017, with one of East Africa’s most notorious illegal ivory traders. However, his conviction was quietly overturned in mid-2020 – a devel­opment that was largely unreported in the press. Likewise, Mateso “Chupi” Kasian was extradited from Mozambique to Tanzania in 2017 to face prosecution in what was, at the time, seen as a major victory for regional co-operation against wildlife trafficking. However, his pros­ecution only led to a fine of $215 – a small sum compared to the enor­mity of the trafficking operation he supposedly controlled. Both cases highlight the significant challenges that major wildlife trafficking inves­tigations often face, including corruption, delays in prosecution and poor evidence handling… Shetani became globally renowned as a result of the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced documentary The Ivory Game. He was reputed to have killed or ordered the killing of up to 10,000 elephants, and to have controlled poaching gangs in Tanzania, Burundi, Mozambique, Zambia and southern Kenya… However, in a judgement on 18 June 2020, the Court of Appeal of Tanzania in Dodoma quietly quashed the convictions of Shetani and his brother, Lucas Mathayo Malyango… In late November 2020, a judgement was made in an appeal case in the high court of Tanzania at Mtwara, a small port city near the Mozambique border. The appeal was filed by Tanzania’s director of public prosecutions against Mateso Kasian (also known as “Chupi”, which means “underwear” in Kiswahili), with the aim of increasing the penalty of his 2019 conviction on ivory trafficking charges. Mateso had been sentenced to pay a fine of $215 and to forfeit two houses in Dar es Salaam and Liwale. This, the prosecutors argued, was insufficient, since the guidelines for sentencing this offence under Tanzania’s wildlife crimes legislation recommended a fine of no less than twice the value of the “trophy” or wildlife products involved: in this case, $335,000. The judge disagreed … (21 March 2021)


by Donovan McGrath

Burundian refugees in Tanzania face increasing danger
(Mail & Guardian online – South Africa) Extract: Évariste Ndayishimiye’s first visit as the president of Burundi was nothing if not symbolic. He chose Kigoma, a town in northwestern Tanzania near which about 154 000 Burundian nationals continue to seek protection from the previous administration’s abuses. Many Burundians in the area probably eyed the visit, during which Ndayishimiye and Tanzanian President John Magufuli agreed to strengthen relations, as a sign that the dangers they face in Tanzania could increase. These dangers are all too real. Since October 2019, Human Rights Watch has documented how Tanzanian police and intelligence agents, in some cases collaborating with Burundian authorities, arbitrarily arrested, forcibly disappeared, tortured, and extorted Burundian refugees and asylum seekers, and forcibly returned at least eight to Burundi… The abuse is not only shocking in its brutality: it exposes that Tanzanian police and intelligence are working with Burundian authorities to target people the Tanzanian government is bound by international law to protect… Tanzania and Burundi have historically had a close relationship—former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere led the peace negotiations that led to the 2000 Arusha Accords, which established ethnic power-sharing and helped end years of conflict in Burundi that left an estimated 300 000 dead. But a protracted crisis in Burundi since 2015 has sent hundreds of thousands of Burundians fleeing to Tanzania. Now pressure has been mounting on them to return home… (30 November 2020)

The real story of the world’s biggest tanzanite find

Lazaro Lasimi

(Mail & Guardian online – South Africa) Extract: Lazaro Lasimi and his colleagues descended hundreds of metres into the earth underneath the Mererani Hills, in Manyara in northern Tanzania. At the bottom of the mine, they dug 57 small holes, carefully placing dynamite into each. Only when they were safely on the surface did they press the trigger. The explosion was designed to break the hard rock which protects one of the world’s most unique natural resources: tanzanite, the rare, shimmering violet-blue gem stone that is found only in Tanzania, and mostly in the Mererani Hills. Usually, it takes 15 minutes for the dust to settle. That day, Lasimi remembers, something was different: it took half an hour, even with oxygen pipes lowered into the depths to speed up the process. Once the staff geologist had given the go-ahead, Lasimi and the team eventually made it back down. In the rubble, he saw small and medium-sized rocks that he knew from seven years of experience in the mines here were likely to contain tanzanite. He started to collect them. One of his colleagues spotted a huge black rock that had somehow survived the blast. He started bashing it with a hammer, trying to break it into smaller pieces. But this rock was stronger than the hammer. Suddenly he realized: this wasn’t ordinary rock; the whole thing was tanzanite… The gemstone weighed an astonishing 9.27kg… It was, by some margin, the largest tanzanite stone ever discovered. And its owner, Saniniu Laizer—who was not there that day, and was only informed later by his eldest son, Joseph—was about to become an American dollar millionaire, and a Tanzanian shilling billionaire, several times over… June 24 was a day that no one in Naisinyai will ever forget. The minister of mines, Dotto Biteko, arrived, along with his cavalcade. Journalists and cameras recorded everything. A makeshift stage was hastily erected, draped in the colours of Tanzania’s flag: green, yellow, black and blue. The minister brought along an oversized cheque for the sum of 7.7 billion shillings ($3.3-million). In exchange, Laizer handed over his record-breaking 9.27kg tanzanite stone, along with another slightly smaller 5.1kg monster that had been found on the same day. In a stilted address, Laizer, wrapped in his Maasai shuka, said: “I thank God for this achievement because it’s the first time to get this size. When I found these, I notified government officials who evaluated the stone and today they called me for payment.” He said he plans to use the money to build a school and a clinic near his home, and a mall in Arusha. He will also give 10% to his employees… (1 September 2020)

British woman, 26, takes in 14 Tanzanian children after volunteering at an African orphanage on her gap year – and says they’re thriving now they have a place to call home

Letty McMaster and orphans at the home

(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: Letty McMaster, 26, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was just 18 years old when a month long trip volunteering at an orphanage in Africa changed her life forever. She ended up staying for three years to support the children she had met, and when the orphanage shut down, Letty took in nine youngsters who would have been left homeless.,, Letty fought for the right to open her own home, in Iringa, for the nine children left homeless. She founded Street Children Iringa as a UK registered charity and has taken another five children into her home after meeting them on the streets and through the safe house that she runs. None of the children were attending school and lived in between the streets and the orphanage when she first met them but their lives have changed immensely since moving into Letty’s home. One of her boys, Eliah, was found on the streets in the middle of winter wearing just a T-shirt after his mother passed away. He is now in the top 20 of pupils in his year at this school. Fred, 11, had not eaten for days when he was spotted cowering in a dump. Since moving into the family home in 2019, he’s been accepted into a prestigious football academy. After his parents died when he was just two-years-old, Iddy had spent most of his life between the streets, gangs and the orphanage where Letty first met him. He moved into the family home in 2016 and is now a talented boxer and musician with his music being played on local radio stations. Letty said: ‘Since having a place to call home, they have all excelled in education and in every aspect of their lives. ‘Gosberth is one of the boys that I’ve looked after for the past seven years and is now studying at one of the top private schools in the country and is the number one pupil in his year. Eva is 19 and is chairperson of her year at university – she’s doing so well and has got a volunteer internship with an international NGO…’ (18 October 2020)

‘Happy corals’: climate crisis sanctuary teeming with life found off east Africa
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: Scientists have discovered a climate crisis refuge for coral reefs off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, where species are thriving despite warming events that have killed their neighbours. The coral sanctuary hotspot, teeming with spinner dolphins and boasting rare species, including prehistoric fish and dugongs. Researchers believe its location in a cool spot in the ocean is helping to protect it and the surrounding marine life from the harmful effects of the climate crisis. Tim McClanahan, the author of a study on the refuge published this month in Advances in Marine Biology, has been looking for coral sanctuaries in the west Indian Ocean for more than a decade… The coral refuge, which stretches from Shimoni, 50 miles south of Mombasa, in Kenya to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, is fed by cool waters from deep channels formed thousands of years ago by glacial runoff from Kilimanjaro and the Usambara mountains. The cool water appears to protect the corals from episodic warming events like El Niño… (15 December 2020)

So long, Southsea: last sultan of Zanzibar quits UK after 56 years in exile
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: After more than half a century of living in Southsea, Portsmouth, with its unpredictable British weather, shingle beaches and Victorian pier, relocation to the Gulf state of Oman might take some adjustment. But for Jamshid bin Abdullah al-Said the 91-year­old last sultan of Zanzibar, it was the next best thing to going home. The man who ruled the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago until he was deposed in a bloody revolt in January 1964 finally arrived in Muscat … Multiple earlier requests from the sultan to be allowed to live in the Gulf state had been rejected by the government on security grounds. But now his request to retire in Oman was granted due to his age, a family member in Muscat told the Abu Dhabi-based the National. “He always wanted to spend his last days in the country of his ancestors and now he is happy he can do that.” … He became sultan of Zanzibar after the death of his father in July 1963. In December that year, the islands … were granted independence from Britain. Just one month later the sultan was deposed in an insurrection, and a republic was proclaimed. He fled Zanzibar on the royal yacht as his palace was seized by rebels. After being refused permission to settle in Oman, he flew to Britain with an entourage of 61 relatives, friends and household staff. Two weeks later, the New York Times reported that the sultan’s impecunious state obliged him to move “from his pillared London hotel in the shadow of Buckingham palace to a modest hotel in Bayswater on the unfashionable side of Hyde Park”. In May 1964, the British government made a payment of £100,000 to the former sultan, the paper reported. The sum allowed him to settle in a semi-detached house on a quiet street in Southsea, Hampshire, where the contrast with Zanzibar’s white powder beaches and crystal waters must have been striking and perhaps a little painful… (20 September 2020)

Tanzania ‘using Twitter’s copyright policy to silence activists’
(BBC News online – UK) Extract: Every day on Twitter, Kigogo – a Swahili name that means a VIP or swashbuckling tycoon – doles out the latest gossip from Tanzania’s corridors of power. The details are embarrassing and shocking at times but Kigogo’s nearly 400,000 Twitter followers love these revelations, dubbing Kigogo “our president of the Twitter republic”. “I’m a whistleblower and I expose corruption and human rights abuses in the country,” Kigogo, whose identity is a closely guarded secret, told the BBC. But shortly before the 28 October election, Twitter suspended the @Kigogo2014 account because of “more than 300” copyright complaints to the social media platform that the account had breached its copyright policy – a charge Kigogo denied.

Internet rights campaigners allege that the policy is increasingly being used by “repressive governments” such as Tanzania’s to silence critics. Twitter has not responded directly to these allegations but did release a statement in October decrying the blocking of the social media platform ahead of the election… The attack came days after Kigogo tweeted about an alleged scheme by the ruling party to tamper with ballot papers ahead of the elections, in which President John Magufuli was seeking a second term. The Tanzania National Electoral Commission denied allegations of fraud before and after the election. The complainants appealed to Twitter to crack down on Kigogo for violating the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, which Twitter and other popular US-based technology companies have to comply with around the world… Several Tanzanian officials have publicly said they were looking for the person running the Twitter account, accusing them of incitement, leaking government secrets, spreading lies and threatening national security… (22 December 2020)

Mozambique, Tanzania join forces to tackle Cabo Delgado violence
(Aljazeera online – United Arab Emirates) Extract: Mozambique and Tanzania have signed a memorandum of understanding to join efforts in the battle against an escalating armed campaign by ISIL-linked fighters in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province. The agreement, sealed by the two countries’ police forces … includes the extradition of 516 fighters from Tanzania to its southern neighbour, Mozambique’s state-owned newspaper Noticias reported … The violence in gas-rich Cabo Delgado began in October 2017 when members of an armed group, which later pledged allegiance to ISIL, attacked police stations in the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia. Since then, more than 2,200 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Mozambique’s army has struggled to contain the fighters, who have regularly beaten back the country’s security forces and air support from a private military group to capture and hold key locations during violent raids. Emboldened, the fighters have recently expanded their sphere of operations north into Tanzania, crossing Rovuma River that marks the border between the two countries to carry out raids on villages in Tanzania’s Mtwara region. Many of the recruited fighters are also thought to come from Tanzania, whose police said … they had arrested an unspecified number of people for allegedly planning to join the armed campaign. Noticias quoted Mozambique’s Police Chief Bernardino Rafael as saying that one of the key objectives of the agreement is to bring all the suspected fighters who are detained in Tanzania to face justice… “The agreement provides for us to work together to control the Rovuma border,” Rafael said on private broadcaster STV after signing the accord in Tanzania… (23 November 2020)

Tanzania still bound by African court despite withdrawal
(East African online – Kenya) Extract: Tanzania’s withdrawal from the Arusha-based African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) came into effect on November 21, but the country legally remains a member of the Arusha-based court and will continue to adhere to other provisions of the protocol establishing it. The court allows individuals and non-governmental organisations to sue Tanzania. As a human rights court and the African Union’s apex human rights mechanism, it has jurisdiction to hear cases alleging violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, the withdrawal means no Tanzanian individual or non-government organisation can seek direct recourse at the court. They can still do so through the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights based in the Gambian capital Banjul. “This withdrawal decision should not be construed as the end of the road for Tanzanians who may be aggrieved by certain state decisions or actions. Tanzania has not withdrawn from the protocol of the Treaty establishing the African Court, but from the clause that allows individuals and COSs to file cases directly with the court,” said Elifuraha Laltaika, a senior law lecturer at Arusha’s Tumaini University. “Tanzania is therefore still a legitimate member of the African Human Rights Commission and can still be prosecuted through that avenue,” he said… Tanzania has the highest number of cases filed by individuals and NGOs as well as judgments issued against it by the African Court.
(28 November 2020)

Inside Kenya’s tiff with Somalia and Tanzania
Kenya’s persistent trade tiffs with neighbours may be a result of dynamics beyond the region, which could require political solutions. Two of Kenya’s neighbours, Somalia and Tanzania, have recently stalled business ventures for Kenyans over alleged bad policy by Nairobi.
Tanzania cancelled landing rights for three more airlines—AirKenya, Fly540 and Safarilink Aviation—after Kenya insisted Tanzanians arriving in the country have to be quarantined for 14 days… Nairobi has had a month-long standoff with Tanzania, which has led some analysts to think the region, despite having integration blocs, may be harbouring different ambitions… (3 September 2020)

Uganda accuses Tanzania of unfair charges on transporters
(East African online – Kenya) Extract: Uganda and Tanzania are locked in a dispute over road user fees for trucks headed for the Dar es Salaam port, with Kampala threatening to retaliate against “unfair” charges imposed on its transporters that are higher than those applicable to Rwandan shippers. Kampala has filed a complaint with the EAC Council of Ministers, accusing Tanzania of breaching the Common Market Protocol by imposing different road user charges to partner states in the same trading bloc… At the centre of the dispute is a $500 fee that the Tanzanian government charges Ugandan trucks traversing its territory, compared with $152 charged on Rwandan trucks… (28 September 2020)

Tanzania dethrones US as Kenya’s tourism top source market
(East African online – Kenya) Extract: Tanzania edged out the US as Kenya’s leading tourism top source market in September buoyed by its lesser Covid-19 lockdown measures, new data shows. Rising virus cases have hampered arrivals from the world’s biggest economy after many countries, including Kenya, categorised US travellers as Covid-19 high-risk. This has forced many of them to either cancel or postpone their trips indefinitely. This comes at a time when the US total infection, which is the highest globally, stands at more than 10 million with over 200,000 deaths. Unlike the US, Tanzania imposed little restraints amid an economic impact cautions on its citizens as well as the … concluded presidential elections that saw President John Magufuli re-elected for the second term. Latest data from the Tourism Research Institute (TRI) shows the US trailing Tanzania at number three. This is a significant jump from August when the country could not even appear among the top 30 source market of visitors to Kenya. “Tanzania leads with 4,309 followed by Uganda (3,812) and US (3,458),” the data shows… (16 November 2020)


Edited by Donovan McGrath

Jane Goodall in isolation
(New York Times – USA) The researcher talks about animals and about being alone. Extract continues: Jane Goodall is in isolation these days, along with many other people, since a fund-raising tour was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. She is staying at her family home in England, not in Tanzania, her primary home when not on the road. Dr Goodall changed the way the world views chimpanzees with research that began when she first went to Africa 60 years ago … a young woman without a college degree, to observe chimpanzees in the wild at what is now the Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania. She later became the tireless advocate for chimps in captivity… Today, the Jane Goodall Institute supports the continuation of the research she started at the Gombe Stream Research Centre as well as programs in community involvement in conservation, and education… I [the writer James Gorman] called Dr Goodall … and spoke to her for about a half-hour about humans, animals, the coronavirus pandemic and what gives her hope… Well, I [Jane Goodall] started off being unbelievably frustrated that I was grounded. And I then thought, well, OK, that’s, that’s not helpful. So I began thinking of all the different ways that I could stay out in the public without being there, so to speak… Being isolated has made me think of what it must be like for chimpanzees who were isolated in captivity, who depend on physical closeness and touch… We are not separated from the rest of the animal kingdom, we’re part of it… (1 April 2020) – Thanks to Elsbeth Court for this item – Editor

On the road with East African truck drivers
(Mail & Guardian online – South Africa) Extract: Khamis Makaranga did not intend to cause a diplomatic incident. He just wanted to deliver the tomatoes in the back of his truck. Makaranga plies the highway between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Those tomatoes from Tanzania’s central Iringa region, were destined for a market in Kenya’s capital city. They never arrived. When he got to the Namanga border post, Makaranga saw hundreds of trucks waiting to cross into Kenya… Every truck driver entering the country is being tested by Kenyan authorities, adding days to their journeys. Makaranga was tested … [H]is result came back: he was positive. “I didn’t agree with the medical result from the Kenyans,” Truck drivers wait to be tested for COVID-19 on the Uganda/Kenya border in Malaba (Brian Ongoro / AFP) he tells the Mail & Guardian, as he didn’t show any symptoms. In total, 19 Tanzanian truck drivers tested positive, and Kenya would not allow them in. Makaranga and other drivers complained to the Arusha regional commissioner, Mrisho Gambo, who gave an explosive press conference on May 20. Gambo said a Tanzanian laboratory had tested the drivers, and all came back negative. He accused Kenya of deliberately falsifying the results in order to sabotage Tanzania’s tourist industry. Within hours, a furious Kenya had shut its land border, with Tanzania threatening to follow suit. It took personal interventions from President Uhuru Kenyatta and President John Magufuli to defuse the tensions – but not before Makaranga’s tomatoes had turned rotten in the back of his truck… (1 June 2020)

The smouldering pandemic Why covid-19 seems to spread more slowly in Africa
(Economist online – UK) Extract: ... John Magufuli, Tanzania’s president, does not believe his country’s results. “We only see them releasing positive, positive, positive results,” he said. He claims that the national laboratory was sent papaya, goat and sheep samples that tested positive. (The lab denies this.) No new official data has been released since April 29th. Opposition activists and NGOs say that there have been dozens of burials of covid-19 victims in Dar es Salaam … On May 12th the American embassy said that hospitals there were “overwhelmed”. “It is a cover-up”, says Zitto Kabwe, an opposition leader… (16 May 2020) – Thanks to John Rollinson for this item – Editor

Tanzanian leader accused of suppressing death statistics
(Financial Times online – UK) President blames ‘imperialists’ for the large number of positive results in tests. Extract continues: Tanzania’s government is covering up the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic with secret burials at night while hospitals overflow and three parliamentarians are thought to have died from the disease, say doctors, opposition leaders and activists. President John Magufuli, who has spent much of the crisis in his home village 750 miles west of Dar es Salaam … denies the virus is serious and has urged people to stay at work and attend religious ceremonies… [I]n a national address, Mr Magufuli accused the national laboratory of fabricating results under the influence of what he called imperialists… Zitto Kabwe, an opposition leader, said the allegation could cause people to lose faith in the health system’s response to Covid-19… Although schools have been closed since mid-March, social distancing has not been enforced strictly, making the nation of 56m people unusual in Africa where many countries have imposed lockdowns, curfews and other controls… The government said it had implemented more than 40 measures to curb the pandemic and was learning from other countries. It defended its statistics and denied it was hiding the extent of the outbreak, adding: “it takes one to be insane to insinuate that Tanzania is not taking serious measures or hiding data.” A person close to the medical profession said it was almost impossible to secure a hospital bed in several cities… (5 May 2020) – Thanks to Jerry Jones for this item – Editor

Tanzania’s digital doctor learns to speak Swahili
(Financial Times online – UK) Extract: With one doctor per 25,000 people, the Swahili speaking east African country of Tanzania struggles to serve the needs of its 59m people. Life expectancy is 62 for men and 66 for women, while just two-thirds of the population live within 5km of a health facility. “Traditional models will not fix this problem,” says Hila Azadzoy, managing director of the Global Health Initiative unit at Ada Health, a Berlin-based artificial intelligence-powered medical company. “Technology can empower users to take decisions about their own health by putting the power of AI into their hands,” she adds. Available since 2016, Ada Health’s chatbot symptom checker app has attracted 9m users worldwide, including 3m in low- and middle-income countries. The free-to-download app invites users to input symptoms and pre-existing medical conditions before using AI-based questioning to pinpoint possible diagnoses – it then recommends next steps such as resting or seeking professional help. The digital doctor now speaks Swahili – the lingua franca of 100m people in east Africa
– thanks to Ada’s Global Health Initiative… Replacing doctors is not Ada’s intention – instead it says it wants to facilitate interaction between users and healthcare experts while deterring unnecessary clinic visits by providing health information via smartphones… (16 May 2020)

‘Many girls have been cut’: how global school closures left children at risk
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: Covid-19 closures have exposed children around the world to human rights abuses such as forced genital mutilation, early marriage and sexual violence, child protection experts say. Globally, the World Bank estimates that 1.6 billion children were locked out of education by Covid-19… NGOs warn that millions of the world’s most vulnerable children may never return to the classroom, and say that after decades fighting for girls’ education the pandemic could cause gender equality in education to be set back decades. In Tanzania, girls sent home from boarding schools where they were being protected from FGM have already been cut… The Dutch charity Terre des Hommes runs a safe house for girls in Tanzania, protecting them from FGM. “The community has taken advantage of this situation of Covid-19 and where children are now back at home they are cutting their girls. They know it is against the law but they are not afraid. We had one mother who was jailed for a year after carrying out FGM but for her she is happy. She is locked up but her girl is cut… (1 June 2020)

Simba regains his pride: Tortured lion cub subjected to horrific abuse while used to lure tourists in Russia will be flown for a new life in Africa
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: A lion cub called Simba subjected to horrific cruelty in Russia is to be flown to Africa to start a new life. The tortured animal’s legs were deliberately broken to stop it running away while being exploited on beaches as a photo prop for tourists. Holidaymakers paid to have their pictures taken with the cute little lion… The crippled cub could hardly move and was on the point of death when it was rescued. Vladimir Putin was so shocked that he personally ordered a criminal probe into the cruelty faced by Simba. Groundbreaking surgery means the cub can now walk and play … but Simba will remain deformed for life. Now though, Russians behind the beast’s rescue have arranged for the cub to fly 6,500 miles from the Ural Mountains to a big cats rehabilitation centre in Tanzania. The animal surgeon who saved Simba’s life, Karen Dallakyan, from Chelyabinsk, said: ‘The return to their spiritual homeland of wild animals of Africa rescued in Russia is taking place for the first time in our country’s his­tory.’ … He said: ‘Evil photographers break bones like this so that wild predators cannot escape and behave calmly for pictures (with tourists).’ Yulia Agaeva, who headed the operation to save Simba, said there had been 30 offers to take and care for the lion, but she was convinced Tanzania was the right place… The Tanzanian embassy is assisting with the operation to take the big cats to Africa … (8 August 2020)

Women were left to find dinner 19,000 years ago! Fossilised footprints in Tanzania show labour was divided between the sexes in ancient human communities

Engare Sero site just south of Lake Natron where the footprints were discovered

(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: Ancient footprints in Tanzania suggest that women were responsible for foraging for food and did so together in groups as early as 19,000 years ago. The find is the largest collection of footprints from the human fossil record ever found in Africa, according to the team from Chatham University. Researchers discovered 408 human footprints at Engare Sero in Tanzania after the site was found by a member of the nearby Maasai community. One group of 17 footprints were made by 14 women, two adult men and a younger boy, according to the team, who say the women were foraging for food. ‘The findings may indicate a division of labour based on sex in ancient human communities,’ said Dr Kevin Hatala, study lead author. The researchers couldn’t say what the men and boy were doing but suspect they were either providing protection or just ‘walking along with the women for a bit’. The team dated the footprints between 19,100 and 5,760 years old – this would put them during the Pleistocene period… Dr Hatala said the behaviour demonstrated by the women and men is similar to the way modern hunter-gatherer tribes such as the Ache and Hadza operate today… (15 May 2020)

The world’s first Freddie Mercury museum is on an African island
(CNN online – USA) Extract: … Down a small, narrow alley in the historic Stone Town neighbourhood of Zanzibar, an old building beckons to visitors. Faded photographs are pinned outside the door while inside, a gallery of glossy pictures and old newspaper clippings lead the way to the room’s centrepiece: a black piano with an interesting history. A young Zanzibari boy once played that piano. His name was Farrokh Bulsara, but you probably know him better as Freddie Mercury. The flamboyant frontman of British rock band Queen, Mercury was born in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous island off the coast of Tanzania. This museum is dedicated to his memory… Zanzibari businessman Javed Jafferji is co-owner of the Freddie Mercury Museum. Jafferji was a college student in London in the mid-1980s when he first became a fan. “At the time, not many people knew (Mercury) was from Zanzibar,” he says. Even today, many people don’t know about Mercury’s Zanzibari roots, says Jafferji. His goal is to put Stone Town on the rock history map… Mercury spent most of his childhood in Zanzibar and attended boarding school in India. In the early 1960s, his family moved to the UK. Less than a decade later, Mercury formed Queen – and went on to attain rock legend status. He never returned to his birthplace… “We really want to create awareness of Freddie Mercury in Zanzibar and in Tanzania overall,” says Anam Adnan, general manager of the museum. “We want people to celebrate him and love him.” But celebrating Freddie Mercury in Zanzibar is complicated. Had Mercury returned there later in life, he would have likely struggled to gain acceptance in a predominantly Muslim community where homosexuality is illegal. “We haven’t put much attention to this personal life because that’s a controversial topic for Zanzibaris,” says Adnan. Instead, she says, the museum focuses on Mercury’s music and his art. “It’s the biggest tribute that we, as Zanzibaris, can do for him.” (10 June 2020)

Burundi refugees in Tanzania face new pressure to go home
(Washington Post online – USA) Extract: Burundian refugees in Tanzania say they fear being forced to return to their country now that a new president has taken power and invited them home. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled during the bloody political turmoil that followed former President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in 2015. Nkurunziza decided not to run again in May’s elections and died days later in what the government called a heart attack. New President Evariste Ndayishimiye is now being watched closely for any breaks with his predecessor, whose rule slid into repression in its final years… He invited all those in exile to return and build a new nation… Tanzania’s director of the department of refugees visited camps for Burundians in western Tanzania where close to 200,000 remain, refugees told The Associated Press. “He carried one message: Go back to your country, there is peace now,” refugees said… A coalition of refugees’ human rights defenders denounced the Tanzanian official’s position… Leopold Sharangabo, the coalition’s vice president… noted the new appointment in Burundi of a prime minister, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, who is under U.S. sanctions for his alleged role in rights abuses. He called the appointment an insult to refugees. “These people harassed us, killed us, tortured us and forced us into exile. How can we be asked to go back under their regime?” he asked… (7 July 2020)