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)


by Donovan McGrath

Rain and a whetted appetite in Zanzibar
(New York Times – USA) A week of drizzle leads to a mysterious curio shop and a succession of feasts says travel writer Sara Khan. Extract continues: If my circumstances had not been so dire – or rather, if my circumstances had been drier – I might never have found myself at the Zanzibar Curio Shop… “Hakuna Matata” T-shirts obscured the facade, and tourists browsed among the souvenirs. In any other city, I’d have breezed past. But sodden from the fury of a downpour, I decided feigning interest in refrigerator magnets was a small price to pay for shelter. “If you want to see the real history of Zanzibar, you have to come upstairs,” said Murtaza Akerali, who, with his brother, runs the store their father opened in 1968. And so I followed him through a portal to Zanzibar of yore: Hand-carved wood-and-brass trunks teetered against one wall; vintage cigarette ads from India and political posters from Tanzania formed a retro pastiche on another… [A] wall of grandfather clocks; a cluster of rusting keys, probably belonging to earlier iterations of the brass-studded doors I had been compulsively Instagramming all over Stone Town. You have to be careful when writing about places like Zanzibar, not to reduce it to a series of prosaic meditations on brilliantly sunny skies, blindingly white beaches and beguilingly azure waters… To prevent such exaltations from finding their way into my own notebook, Zanzibar made sure I encountered nothing of the sort… The Swahili language spoken here is a composite of Bantu and Arabic, with tributes to Persian, Portuguese, English and Hindi… “Zanzibar is not just one thing – Arab, Indian, Persian or Bantu,” the fashion designer Farouque Abdela said. “It’s what they call Swahili” … You can trace the cultures that have mingled in Zanzibar through Mr. Abdela’s lineage: He is a native Zanzibari of Comoran, Indian and Arab descent … Zanzibar was, for centuries, where far-flung corners of the world converged. The region was settled by Bantus from mainland Africa, then Persians, Portuguese and Arabs, each wave leaving indelible influences on the language, dress, food and religion… “A mixture of culture, rather than food,” is how Mr. Abdela described urojo to me. The stew, popularly known as Zanzibar mix, is hearty, rainy-day food … a few chunks of mishkaki, or East African grilled meat, sliced off the skewer, were draped with Indian-inspired fried bhajias, local casava strips and chunks of potatoes … (24 February 2020) – Thanks to Elsbeth Court for this item – Editor

Oxford University restores Maasai artefacts

Group of Masaai during visit to Oxford University

(Economist online – UK) Men with spears come to the dreaming spires… Extract continues: Former colonial powers have tended to take a defensive attitude to requests from formerly subject peoples for the return of objects that may have been stolen. In Britain, France and elsewhere, laws prevent museums from letting stuff go. But in 2017, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said that he wanted to see the return of pilfered artefacts to Africa within five years. Since then, the movement for restitution has gathered steam. Universities are not constrained by the legislation that binds national collections, and several have started to return objects. The Pitt Rivers, which holds Oxford University’s archaeological and anthropological collections, is the vanguard. It has returned 28 objects, all of them human remains. But Dan Hicks, curator of archaeology at the museum, believes that the movement needs to accelerate, for “museums are sites of colonial violence”. Rather than deal with national governments, which can make for tricky politics, the Pitt Rivers is engaging directly with indigenous peoples. The Maasai visit came about after Samwel Nangira, a Maasai from Tanzania, visited the Pitt Rivers when he was at a conference. He questioned the labelling of some of the objects in the museum: “what does ‘collected’ mean? Like when you find something in a forests, so not donated, and not robbed?” One of the problems with restitution claims is establishing provenance. The Maasai have come at the invitation of Laura van Broekhoven, director of the Pitt Rivers, and InsightShare, an NGO, to establish where and when the objects were taken. To that end, they have brought Lemaron ole Parit, a laibon—a spiritual leader with mystical powers. . . Sitting on the floor of Mrs van Broekhoven’s office, Mr ole Parit breathes into an enkidong vessel packed with stones and snuff tobacco. He then shakes out the stones, whose patterns reveal the artefacts’ history to him. “I’ve identified the circumstances under which objects were taken,” he explains. “The times when they were taken, and how many hands they went through.” Out of the 188 artefacts Mr ole Parit viewed, he has identified only five he thinks are culturally sensitive enough to warrant a return. Artefacts matter to the Maasai, in part because they represent the continuation of a dead person’s life. . . Mrs van Boekhoven says that the way knowledge systems are judged needs to be liberated. “Real decoloniality is to see each other’s knowledge systems as equal.” British colonial catalogues, she points out, are not models of accuracy. “All we have are labels with question-marks. It would be quite disingenuous to say, ‘Your knowledge system is inferior to ours’.” (13 February 2020)

Tanzania crush for sacred oils kills 20 worshippers
(BBC News online – UK) Extract: At least 20 people have been crushed to death and 16 others injured during an outdoor religious service in Tanzania. Worshippers were attending a Pentecostal service at a stadium in the northern town of Moshi … when the incident occurred. Moshi district commissioner Kippi Warioba said attendees rushed forward to be anointed with blessed oil… The service was held by pastor Boniface Mwamposa, who refers to himself as “the apostle”. Survivors said Mr Mwamposa told hundreds of people gathered at the service to pass through an area where “blessed oil” had been poured over the floor. The crowd rushed forward to try to step in the oil in the hope of being cured of sickness. Peter Kilewo, who attended the service, described the scene as “horrible”, telling AFP news agency that people were “trampled on mercilessly, jostling each other with elbows”… (2 February 2020)

Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera freed after seven months

Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera arrives at the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman – RC1314E63E80

(BBC News online – UK) Extract: Detained Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera has been freed seven months after he was arrested. He had been charged with money laundering, tax evasion and leading organised crime. Mr Kabendera’s release comes after he entered into a plea-bargain agreement with the prosecution. His detention was seen as an example of rising repression against the press and critics of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli who came into office in 2015…The authorities had initially said the investigative journalist was arrested over a question about his citizenship but that investigation was dropped and the financial crimes charges were brought in… The journalist, who has the reputation for holding the authorities to account in his articles, has written for several British publications, including The Independent, The Guardian and The Times, as well as for newspapers in Tanzania and the wider region. (24 February 2020)

The all-women safari camp in Tanzania
(BBC News online – UK) The Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania is one of the crown jewels in Tanzania’s tourism industry and famed for its safari experience. According to a report compiled for the UN Conference on Trade and Development in 2015, out of 2,000 safari guides in Tanzania, fewer than 10 were women. The Dunia Camp in Serengeti National Park is trying to solve this problem by hiring only women to fill positions. The following is an extract of a transcription of the video embedded in this article: Director of Dunia Camp, Jane Ngwatu, says she set it up to show that women are capable of doing such things – “it is not only men who can stay in the bush”. In East Africa, women usually hold the lower tiers in the tourism industry. . . At this camp the women take up all the roles, from housekeeping to security and management… (11 March 2020)

Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban
(New York Times online – USA) Extract: … Immigrant visas, issued to those seeking to live in the United States, will be banned for Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan. The ban will also prevent immigrants from Sudan and Tanzania from moving to the United States through the diversity visa lottery, which grants green cards to as many as 50,000 people a year… Non-immigrant visas, including those for students and certain temporary workers, as well as visas reserved for potential employees with specialized skills, will not be affected by the ban. Immigrants will be able to apply for wavers from the restrictions. The administration has said waivers are issued to those who would experience undue hardship if denied entry into the United States, although the process has been criticized as opaque… Officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said Eritrea, Tanzania and Kyrgyzstan were being added to the list because each country had either had not satisfied the administration’s information-sharing requirements related to terrorism or did not have updated passport systems… [A]n American government official said the administration planned to add Nigeria and Tanzania to the list because of the number of people coming from those countries on a visa who end up staying in the United States illegally… (3 February 2020)

Tanzanian officials force men into humiliating anal examinations to check for evidence of gay sex with one HIV-positive victim told ‘you got AIDS because your acts angered God’
(Mail online – UK) Extract: Men in Tanzania have been forced into humiliating anal tests to check for spurious evidence of gay sex, according to a damning report … The report by Human Rights Watch says the tests are a ‘medical travesty’ which can in some cases ‘rise to the level of torture’… The report, entitled If We Don’t Get Services We Will Die, outlines what it calls a ‘systematic attack’ on LGBT people under President John Magufuli’s rule since 2015. The report describes how government officials have closed down HIV testing centres and banned the distribution of lubricant which would allow safer sex. In addition, police raids on meetings and training sessions which educate people about HIV have ‘instilled fear within activist communities’. When police have arrested people for homosexuality they have sometimes ordered medics to carry out the humiliating tests to collect ‘evidence’ of gay sex. Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania under a colonial-era law which was later amended to allow for a life sentence as punishment. ‘These exams have no scientific basis and are a form of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that can amount to torture,’ Human Rights Watch said… A 24-year-old gay man, Osman, said he was ridiculed by health workers at a government hospital in Dar es Salaam after he sought treatment for HIV. ‘You’re a good boy, why do you have gay sex? That’s why you got AIDS, because those acts angered God,’ he was allegedly told. ‘They also told me to stop these games and get saved, to chase out Satan, who caused me to have sex, and to find a wife, get married, and have a family,’ Osman said… (3 February 2020)

Early Stone Age populations in Tanzania made cutting tools that were optimised for different uses 1.85 million years ago
(Mail online – UK) Extract:... The Olduvai Gorge was occupied by early humans for more than 1.8 million years, with stone tools found at a location from around 1.85-1.2 million years ago. The region has three suitable stone materials for making tools – chert, quartzite and basalt derived from lava flows – all of which were used by Stone Age populations. Researchers used modern engineering techniques to explore the material properties of flakes of each of the three stones when used as a cutting tool. They found that the three stones have varying levels of edge sharpness and durability which would make each suitable for different applications. This could explain the variation of tools found in the Olduvai Gorge – and why sharp and durable chert appears to have been preferred where available for small tools. In contrast, the durability of basalt could explain why the volcanic rock makes up so many large tools like hand-axes that would have needed to last a longer time. Archaeologist Alastair Key of the University of Kent and colleagues used modern experimental engineering techniques to assess the edge sharpness and durability of freshly-flaked samples of basalt, chert and quartzite collected from the gorge. The team did this by determining the force, work and material deformation needed when using flakes of each material to cut samples of 2 mm-diameter PVC tubing. PVC was chosen to test cutting because – as one applies a tool to it – it deforms before a physical cut develops, just like biological materials like muscular tissue. The researchers found significant differences in the physical properties of the three tool-making materials… By understanding the way that these tools work and their functional limits it allows archaeologists to build up a greater understanding of the capabilities of our earliest ancestors at the dawn of technology.’ … (8 January 2020)

U.S. bans Tanzanian official who launched anti-gay crackdown
(Reuters online – UK) Extract: The United States said … it banned from visiting the country a Tanzanian official who announced a crackdown on homosexuality in Dar es Salaam in 2018. The U.S. State Department said it was taking the action against Paul Makonda, administrative chief of the Tanzania capital, “due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.” It said Makonda had “also been implicated in oppression of the political opposition, crack-downs on freedom of expression and association, and targeting of marginalized individuals.” The move bars Makonda and his immediate family members from visiting the United States… Makonda announced in 2018 that a special committee would seek to identify and punish homosexuals, prostitutes and online fraudsters in the city… Tanzanian President John Magufuli cracked down on homosexuality after winning power in 2015, and a conviction for having “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” could lead to a sentence of up to 30 years in jail… (31 January 2020)


Edited by Donovan McGrath

Siwema Selestine and her daughter in Tanzania – Photo Harry Freedland/Standing Voice

‘We are not ghosts’ – Tanzania’s people with albinism turn the lens on their lives
(Guardian online -UK) Used to fear, abandonment, even attack, a group of young people in a remote rural community are learning that photography can tell their stories and give them a place in society. Extract continues: Film-maker Harry Freedland, who took [a] portrait of Siwema Selestine and her daughter in Tanzania, set up Standing Voice in 2013 after making In the Shadow of the Sun, which follows two Tanzanian men with albinism and documents the discrimination and escalating violence against people with the condition. Albinism is a rare genetic condition that stops the body producing melanin. It is widely misunderstood in some countries where strikingly pale skin can trigger fear, stigmatisation and even attack. Some believe the body parts of people with albinism change fortunes when used in witchcraft. Ukerewe, an island on Lake Victoria, Tanzania, is home to 350,000 people. Discrimination against people with albinism has been strong there. Globally, albinism affects one in 18,000 people; in Tanzania, it is seven times more prevalent… Albinism affects the skin, hair and eyes, causing low vision and susceptibility to skin cancer. Poor eyesight can be misinterpreted as lack of ability: many with the condition leave school without qualifications and have to take on menial work outside. Africans with albinism often die painful deaths from skin cancer at a young age because of exposure to the sun… (29 September 2019)

Tanzanian court upholds a law banning child marriage
(CNN online – USA) Extract: … A high court ruling in 2016 had declared “unconstitutional” sections of Tanzania’s marriage act that allowed the practice. It also directed the government to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years within a year. That judgement followed a legal challenge by children’s rights activists, who argued that the existing law had pushed many girls into underage marriages. But Tanzania’s attorney general launched an appeal – one of its claims was that child marriage could protect unmarried girls who get pregnant. The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed the attorney general’s appeal … With two out of five girls being married off before their 18th birthday, Tanzania has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world … (23 October 2019)

US man drowns while proposing marriage to his girlfriend in Tanzania
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: A woman has paid a heart-breaking tribute to her boyfriend, who drowned while proposing marriage to her in Tanzania. Kenesha Antoine posted a video on Facebook of her boyfriend, Steven Weber, swimming up to the window of their underwater room at the Manta Resort on Pemba Island, off Tanzania. “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you. But everything I love about you I love more every day”! the note reads. In the video, the Louisiana man flips the page to show the message “Will you marry me?” before pulling out an engagement ring box. Antoine posted on Facebook that Weber “never emerged from those depths”. “You never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes’. We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruellest twist of fate imaginable… “Wherever in the universe Steven’s spirit now resides … he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.” The Manta Resort confirmed in a statement that a guest had died… (22 September 2019)

US says man can bring back ‘skin, skull, teeth and claws’ of hunted Tanzania lion
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: The Trump administration has authorised a Florida man to bring back the “skin, skull, teeth and claws” of a lion he hunted in Tanzania, granting the first permit to import a lion from that country since the species gained protection under the US Endangered Species Act. Environmental organizations say the move could open the floodgates for importing other endangered species such as lions and rhinos. A freedom of information request made public by the US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) also revealed that the hunter, Carl Atkinson, was represented by lawyer John Jackson III, who is also a member of the Trump administration’s International Wildlife Conservation Council, a controversial advisory board that promotes trophy hunting… “It signals that the administration is ready to approve, trophy imports from Tanzania despite that country’s history of wildlife mismanagement,” [said Tanya Sanerib, the international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity]. Under the Obama administration, the import of elephant trophies from Tanzania were banned … Under Trump, the FWS reversed course and decided to instead evaluate applications to import elephant and lion trophies from all countries on a case-by-case basis… In a statement, FWS simply reiterated that “legal, well-regulated hunting” can help fund and promote wildlife conservation… [T]he department indicated that it would issue a permit to a Michigan hunter to import the skin, skull and horns from a critically endangered black rhinoceros killed in Namibia. (15 September 2019)

Tanzania Is Pressing Burundi Refugees to Leave, Says Report
(New York Times online – USA) Extract: … Human Rights Watch says tens of thousands of Burundian refugees face mounting pressure to involuntarily leave Tanzania amid efforts by authorities there to reduce the number of Burundians in the country. The rights group in a statement… charged that the fear of violence, arrest and deportation from Tanzania is driving many of the 163,000 Burundians out of the country. Burundi fell into instability in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a disputed third term. The election was marked by violence and allegations of rigging. Nearly 350,000 of Burundi’s 11 million people fled. Tanzanian authorities have expressed frustration over what they say is the U.N.’s slow pace in repatriating refugees back to Burundi… (12 December 2019)

U.N. Report Bolsters Theory That Hammarskjold Plane Was Downed
(New York Times online – USA) Extract: A prominent jurist investigating the mysterious 1961 plane crash that killed the United Nations secretary general, Dag Hammarskjold, in southern Africa has concluded that the aircraft may have been attacked, and that four nations – Britain, Russia, South Africa and the United States – may be withholding information that could solve the puzzle. The jurist, Mohamed Chande Othman, a former chief justice of Tanzania, issued the conclusions in a 95-page report … posted on the website of the United Nations … Mr. Hammarskjold, a 56-year-old Swedish diplomat considered one of the most successful leaders of the United Nations, was on a mission to help settle a secessionist war in newly independent Congo, a former Belgian colony. His chartered aircraft, a DC-6, went down after midnight on Sept. 18, 1961, moments before its scheduled landing in Ndola, a town in what was then the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and is now Zambia. Fifteen people aboard, including Mr. Hammarskjold, members of his staff and crew, were killed in the crash. The sole survivor, an American security officer named Harold Julien, died of injuries six days later… Mr. Hammarskjold has been exalted as a model international statesman. He is the only person to have been posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize… Initial investigations by the colonial authorities attributed the crash to pilot error, but suspicions of foul play multiplied in later years. Some theories hold that colonial-era mining interests, perhaps backed by Western intelligence agencies, had plotted to assassinate Mr. Hammarskjold, who was an avid promoter of African independence from colonial powers during the pivotal period of the Cold War. Other provocative bits of information appear to corroborate a theory that South African or Belgian mercenaries may have forced Mr. Hammarskjold’s plane to crash. But the evidence is far from conclusive… (31 October 2019)

Tanzanian Idris Sultan ‘held’ for Magufuli face-swap
(BBC News online – UK) Extract: Popular Tanzanian comedian Idris Sultan is being held by police after sharing face-swap photos of himself and President John Magufuli, his lawyer says. Extract continues: His lawyer said he was being held under the controversial Cybercrimes Act, which forbids using a computer system to “impersonate” someone else. If charged and convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison… Sultan, the one-time winner of Big Brother Africa, shared two photos on his social media accounts which have more than five million followers. One of the pictures shows Sultan posing on a presidential chair with the national seal, while the other shows Mr Magufuli’s face on the comedian’s body. The caption was in Swahili and read: “We swapped roles for a day so that he could enjoy his birthday in peace.” Shortly after the photos were posted, an Instagram comment, thought to be from Paul Makonda, the Regional Commissioner for Dar es Salaam, told Sultan to report to any police station in the city for further instructions, adding that he “doesn’t know the boundaries of his work.” A relative told the BBC that Sultan had turned himself in … The 2015 Cybercrimes Act has been criticised by human rights activists, who say it infringes on freedom of expression. Sultan is the second high-profile celebrity to run into trouble with the government. Top African performer Diamond Platnumz was barred from performing in Tanzania last year for “behaving indecently.” … There is a “shrinking space for freedom of expression” in Tanzania, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International… (31 October 2019)

‘Tell us the right PIN or you’re dead’: Terrified couple are abducted by four men inside a fake taxi after touching down in Tanzania for a holiday
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: A couple has recalled the frightening ordeal of being abducted and robbed by four men in a ‘taxi’ moments after arriving in a large city in Tanzania. Chris Williams and partner Tiffany Zyp from New Zealand’s North Island [were] on the overseas adventure of a lifetime. The pair [were] driven around the city to various ATMs – withdrawing a total of $4200 at the demand of their kidnappers. They were also robbed of the $500 cash they had on them and their phones in the terrifying two-hour ordeal … The couple, both aged 31, had just arrived by bus in the eastern port city of Dar es Salaam and were looking for a taxi to drive them to Zambia for the next leg of their adventure, the New Zealand Herald reported. They decided to take a taxi after striking up a friendly conversation with a driver. They were joined by three other men once inside the taxi, who pinned the couple in the back seat and threatened them… The men eventually released the couple, handing back their passports and empty wallets, and told them to ‘act normal when you leave or our friends will get you.’ … One man has reportedly … been arrested and released on bail. (21 August 2019)

Duke’s hidden talent! Prince William leaves a Tanzanian boy ‘gobsmacked’ by speaking to him confidently in Swahili in a ‘truly special moment’ at the Princess Diana Legacy Awards
(Daily Mail online – UK) Extract: … The Duke of Cambridge, 37, was meeting 20 recipients of Princess Diana’s Legacy awards for tea at Kensington Palace when he shocked Erick Venant, 25, from Tanzania, by speaking to him in Swahili… [Tessy Ojo, Chief executive of the Diana Award charity] told People magazine: ‘One of the young people is from Tanzania, and he started talking to him in Swahili… It wasn’t just one sentence. This was not something he had just read out of a book.’ … Erick was among a group of Legacy Award recipients, from across the UK and Commonwealth countries including Canada, Nigeria, Tanzania and India, who have had a significant impact on society. He was awarded after leading a nationwide anti-microbial resistance campaign in 23 administrative regions of Tanzania, which educated over 49,000 students and teachers in 114 secondary schools… It’s not the first time the royal has revealed his talents as a linguist, after speaking Swahili to Tanzanian President John Magufuli while on a trip last year… While he is not believed to be fluent, Prince William taught himself Swahili during his time at university… The royal is believed to speak five languages in total, including French, Welsh, Gaelic and a little Spanish.
(28 November 2019)

Deeds and Misdeeds: Land Tilting and Women’s Rights in Tanzania
(New Left Review 118 – UK) Extract: Conflicts over land are on the rise in Tanzania. Almost daily, the news headlines announce five deaths here, two more there, on account of land-use struggles. Spokespeople for the ruling CCM party explain that this is just a temporary phenomenon, as their programme of land tilting unfolds; once boundaries have been demarcated and rights of occupancy formally registered, the conflicts will disappear… Though Tanzania has several big cities—in addition to Dar es Salaam, now a sprawling conurbation of almost 5 million, and Mwanza, the bustling port on Lake Victoria, the provincial hubs of Arusha, Mbeya, Morogoro and Tanga all have populations of over a quarter of a million—70 per cent of its citizens are rural, mostly poor subsistence farmers, living in some 12,000 villages across the vast country. Land issues, here as in many other parts of Africa, are a burning political-economic question… Tanzania is the largest country in its region. It has a population of 57 million … Since the liberalization of the economy, investment and growth – telecoms, tourism, construction— have been concentrated in the cities, in conservation areas (national parks, game reserves, etc.), and along the coast, creating disparities of growth. Nevertheless, tensions have so far largely been managed by CCM. The rise of land conflicts signals a worrying development, raising questions about the country’s approach to land formalization. This article draws on field research in different parts of Tanzania … our team … investigated tilting in some forty villages, assessing the certification data in the land registries of different districts… Tanzania is a slow adopter of land-formalization policies… In addition to kick-starting agrarian capitalism, a stated objective of the land-tilting programme … was to improve women’s rights… With Anna Tibaijuka’s tenure as CCM Minister for Lands from 2010, formalization found a female champion… [S]he promoted [the Peruvian econom ist Hernando] de Soto’s line: untitled land was ‘dead capital’… [T]itle deeds would reduce conflicts over land, as well as providing collateral for loans… [S]he reminded Tanzanians that tilting included the duty to pay land rents, fees and fines as dictated by the law … The donor-backed formalization programmes in Tanzania focus on issuing ‘certificates of customary rights of occupancy’ (ccros) for village land… The ccros have been explicitly designed for the mass of poorer farmers … Yet progress has been slow… Official estimates are that only 3 per cent of Tanzania’s rural land parcels have been conclusively titled to date. The outcomes—especially for women, the poor and other vulnerable groups such as pastoralists and hunter­gatherers—have been problematic… The process of mapping Western— or, more accurately, us-based—household models and ownership patterns onto the mosaic of Tanzanian kinship structures and local land-management systems has proven more than a little complicated…
(July/August 2019) Thanks to Jerry Jones for this item—Editor


by Donovan McGrath

Tanzania caught in a spiral

Fishermen pull up the nets in waters off Dar es Salaam in September 2018. Photo: Peter Caton/The Observer

(Guardian UK) Illegal operations and overfishing are taking a toll despite rich seas. Extract continues: .. According to global species database FishBase, Tanzania has some of the world’s richest fishing grounds … Tanzania should not need to import fish, but overfishing is depleting stocks, rais­ing prices and threatening food security. “It is a disgrace for a country like Tanzania to import fish, while there are plenty of species that could meet fish demand in the country,” says Abdullah Ulega, deputy minister for livestock and fisheries. Despite the number of fishing boats increasing by nearly 20% in five years to 66,000, the country recorded a sharp decline in catches, from 390,000 tonnes a year on average, to 360,000 tonnes in 2017, says the government… Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by artisan, commercial and deep-sea fishing is thought to be taking as much as 20% of the country’s fish, costing the economy $400m a year, says the UN… The easiest method used by illegal fishers is “blast fishing”, using dynamite or homemade bottle bombs made from fertiliser and kerosene. A single explosion can kill as much as 400kg of fish in a radius of 30.4 metres, worth up to $1,800, but will also destroy the reef. California-based conservationist group Sea Shepherd Global is now working with Tanzanian government agencies to patrol Indian Ocean waters with a new 55km/h cutter-class ship, the Ocean Warrior… (21 September 2018) Thanks to Rev J R & Mrs M W Bowen for this item

‘It’s God’s plant’ – the man who dreams of chickens
(Guardian Weekly UK) A US mega-farm, a Christian backer and an industrial producer are trying to reform central Africa’s food market. Extract continues:
… Tyson, the world’s second-largest food company, has set up with Irvine’s, Africa’s oldest industrial chicken producer. With the backing of a devout Christian businessman, Donnie Smith, the three partners aim to revolutionise food production in Central Africa and “save” people from hunger by growing chickens on an American scale… “Why Africa? The need is tremendous. I have travelled in sub-Saharan Africa and in the largest population centres you see fairly rapid progress, but [not] in rural areas. All my experience tells me that God wants me to work in Africa,” [says Smith]… Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for unchecked corporate concentration and the pollution and potential animal welfare problems that have plagued production in Europe and the US? Yes, says the Tanzanian government, which struggles to feed its fast-urbanising population and is a target for chicken imports from Europe and Brazil. . . “Definitely we are ready,” says Rose Sweya, a young Dar es Salaam chicken farmer who is eager to buy thousands of Donnie’s day-old Cobbs to fatten up. Her company, Kingchick, is investing heavily in four poultry farms and a processing plant… (11 January 2019) Thanks to Rev J R & Mrs M W Bowen for this item

Why is an African chief’s skull mentioned in the Versailles Treaty?
(BBC UK – online) Extract: The Treaty of Versailles, signed exactly a century ago, reshaped Europe in the wake of World War One. So why, within its many hundreds of clauses, does the treaty refer to the decapi­tated head of an African anti-colonial hero? Extract continues: Chief Mkwawa’s skull now sits on a plinth, protected by a glass box, in a tiny museum in a small town in central Tanzania. But like a trophy, it once adorned the house of a colonial official in Germany’s administrative centre in Bagamoyo, before being spirited away to Germany at some point at the beginning of the 20th Century. The skull was used as a sym­bol to intimidate the Wahehe people, who the chief had led in a fierce rebellion against the German colonisers. So successful was his campaign in the 1890s that a bounty was put on his head by the Germans. He is believed to have taken his own life in 1898, rather than submit to the humiliation of being captured, as he sheltered in a cave that was encircled by German soldiers… The Treaty of Versailles … detailed the reparations Germany had to pay for starting the conflict … And so under a section headed “special provisions” and sandwiched between demands from France and Belgium sits article 246: “Within six months. . . Germany will hand over to His Britannic Majesty’s Government the skull of the Sultan Mkwawa, which was removed from the Protectorate of German East Africa and taken to Germany.” However, the skull was not returned within six months – it took another 35 years for this to happen… At the ceremony that saw the return of the skull to Kalenga, [British governor Edward] Twining did not dwell on the chief’s anti­colonial credentials, instead speaking of honour being restored and how he felt the skull had come back to the Wahehe as a source of protection. But then he struck his bargain: “I hope too that you and your people will continue to give your unstinted loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors.” For Twining that loyalty extended to fighting in Britain’s colonial force known as the King’s African Rifles (KAR) – a military and security unit that was recruited from East Africa… While at one time colonialists may have hoped Chief Mkwawa’s skull would help curry favour, it served as a symbol for an independent and proud Tanzania – and still sits in its own museum in Kalenga… (28 June 2019)

Tanzania’s President Magufuli shops with basket after plastic bag ban
(BBC UK – online) Extract: Tanzanian President John Magufuli has made a surprise visit to a fish market sporting a wicker basket in a move to support a new plastic ban. It is unusual for a man to carry a shopping basket in Tanzania, especially someone of the president’s status. His defiance of convention is likely to give more weight to the ban … Those found with plastic bags now face fines of up to $87 (£68) or up to seven days in jail, local media reports. For anyone caught manufacturing or importing plastic bags, the fine could be $430,000 or up to two years in prison. Tanzania is one of more than 30 African countries to have brought in a ban on single-use plastic. Travellers arriving in Tanzania – a tourist hotspot – are now being asked to surrender plastic bags at the airport… “In a few years time the country will be safe from the effects of plastic bags,” the president said… (4 June 2019)

Tanzania row over wig and hair extension tax

(BBC UK – online) Extract: A row has broken out in Tanzania over the government’s decision to impose a tax on wigs and hair extensions. Many male and some female MPs applauded and thumped their desks in approval when Finance Minister Philip Mpango announced the tax in parliament. Supporters of the levy say it will help women keep their hair natural. But there has also been public outrage, with women say­ing they are being punished for wanting to look good in wigs and hair extensions. Tanzanians tend to uphold traditional values, but society is changing and many women now wear wigs and extensions … In his budget speech in parliament … Mr Mpango announced a 25% tax on imported wigs and hair extensions and a 10% tax on those made locally as part of a series of measures aimed at increasing government revenue… Mr Mpango also scrapped the exemption on value added tax placed on sanitary towels, saying consumers had not benefited as businesses did not reduce prices when it was introduced. Opposition MP Upendo Peneza said she would campaign against the removal of the exemption, adding that the government should push businesses to lower their prices… (14 June 2019)

Murder, rape and claims of contamination at a Tanzanian goldmine
(Guardian UK – online) Police and guards at North Mara have been accused of killing dozens — possibly hundreds — of locals. Extract continues: When safari tourists drive to the Serengeti national park in Tanzania, few realise they are passing one of the world’s most conten­tious goldmines… Welcome to North Mara, one of the biggest mines in Tanzania, which since 2006 has been operated by London-listed Acacia Mining and predominantly owned by the world’s biggest goldmining company, Barrick, a Toronto-based firm that holds a 63.9% stake. For the past two decades, this mine has been a place of danger, extreme violence and allegations of environmental contamination. Although Tanzania is nominally at peace, over the years police and security guards have been accused of killing dozens — possibly hundreds — of local people, injuring many more and raping countless women. There have also been reports of contamination from mining chemicals, but journalists and human rights activists who have tried to investigate these cases have sometimes found themselves the subject of intimida­tion, harassment and even threats of deportation from police and state authorities. Acacia says it is not involved in any crackdown on the media and it promotes transparency. Since a legal challenge in 2015, the company has worked with authorities to improve the human rights situation. It erected walls in some areas, enhanced staff training, and put in place a grievance system. But an investigation by the Guardian and its partners in the Forbidden Stories journalism collective has been told violence continues — albeit at a lower level — while the health prob­lems associated with possible chemical pollution remain a concern… (18 June 2019)

‘It could change everything’: coin found off northern Australia may be from pre-1400 Africa
(Guardian UK – online) Experts believe they may have found a Kilwa coin that could change what we know about the history of global trade. Extract continues: … [B]usy I-Med radiology clinic in Darwin is shiny and quiet … But then an archaeologist and a historian turn up, bringing with them a curious patient whose identity is unknown, but who may be 1,000 years old and could rewrite Australian history. The “patient” is a small copper coin found by archaeologist Mike Hermes on a field trip to the Wessel Islands, off north-east Arnhem Land, last year. He believes it to be a coin from Kilwa, more than 10,000km away in what is now known as Tanzania, dating from before the 15th century… [T]he find was no accident. The Past Masters [a group of historians, archae­ologists, anthropologists, numismatists (coin experts), geochronologists and other experts who investigate historical anomalies] were following the path of Morry Isenberg, an RAAF radar operator who discovered five Kilwa coins when he was stationed briefly on nearby Marchinbar Island in 1945. Isenberg rediscovered the coins stashed away in a match­box tin 40 years later, and they were handed over to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney… How the coins got to this part of the world is a … perplexing mystery. “Kilwa coins have only been found in Kilwa, the Arabian peninsula and the Wessel Islands,” Hermes says. “It is a puzzling distribution.” [Historian Mike] Owen offers a few theories. It could indicate contact between Indigenous Australians and traders from Kilwa 700 years ago. The Wessel Islands were probably not the intended destination for the coins. There was trade between Kilwa and China, and possibly those traders were blown off course or escaping from pirates. Perhaps there was a shipwreck. But he says the most likely scenario is that the Portuguese, who looted Kilwa in 1505, went on to set foot on Australian shores, bringing the coins with them. “The Portuguese were in Timor in 1514, 1515 — to think they didn’t go three more days east with the monsoon wind is ludicrous,” Hermes says. So what does the potential discovery of a coin minted 500 years before James Cook’s arrival, and more than 300 years before the Dutch, mean for the pre-European history of Australia? Numismatist Peter Lane says if this is a Kilwa coin, it adds an interesting dimension to Australia’s early history… (11 May 2019)

President Urges Tanzania’s Women to ‘Set Ovaries Free’, Have More Babies to Boost Economy
(New York Times USA – online) Extract: … “When you have a big popula­tion you build the economy. That’s why China’s economy is so huge,” [President John Magufuli] said … citing India and Nigeria as other examples of countries that gained from a demographic dividend. “I know that those who like to block ovaries will complain about my remarks. Set your ovaries free, let them block theirs,” he told a gather­ing in his home town of Chato. Since taking office in 2015, Magufuli has launched an industrialization campaign that has helped buoy economic growth, which has averaged 6.7% annually in recent years. But he has said a higher birth rate would achieve faster progress… UNFPA [U.N. population fund] says about a third of married women in Tanzania use contraceptives, but Magufuli has criticized Western-backed fam­ily planning programs implemented by the health ministry. Last year, Magufuli said curbing the birth rate was “for those too lazy to take care of their children”, and the health ministry barred broadcasting of family planning ads by a U.S.-funded project. While Tanzania’s poverty rate
– people living on less than $1 a day – has declined to about 26% as of 2016, the absolute number of poor citizens has not because of the high population growth rate, according to the World Bank. Opposition lead­ers in Tanzania have criticized Magufuli’s stance, saying the country’s already rapid population growth is a time bomb … (10 July 2019)

Tanzania Says Does Not Know Whether Missing Journalist Is Dead or Alive
(New York Times USA – online) Extract: Tanzania does not know whether a missing journalist who disappeared two years ago while investigating a series of murders of police and ruling party officials is dead or alive, the country’s foreign minister was quoted . . . as saying. Activists have cited Azory Gwanda’s disappearance as a sign of worsening conditions for journalists under President John Magufuli’s government, which they accuse of cracking down on press freedom by suspending newspapers. The government denies the allegations. . . New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has accused the Tanzanian government of failing to launch a credible investigation into Gwanda’s fate after he disap­peared on November 21, 2017… (11 July 2019)

A fish called Wakanda: New purple fish honours ‘Black Panther’

Wakanda fish

(CNN USA – online) Extract: Although the nation of Wakanda exists only in the Marvel Comics universe, where it is superhero Black Panther’s home, researchers believe they have found a version of it underwater. And here, 260 feet below the surface in secretive reefs, the warriors accented with vibrant purple are fish. Previously unknown, the fish species lives in dark coral reefs, called “Twilight Zone” reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. The fish are known as fairy wrasses… Their scales are so deeply pigmented that the deep purple remains during the preservation process, when colour is usually lost. The fish were discovered by scientists participating in the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs initiative, which aims to research and restore coral reef systems… The fish were named Cirrhilabrus wakanda, or the vibranium fairy wrasse, in honour of Wakanda and “Black Panther.” “When we thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, we knew we had to name this new species after Wakanda,” said Yi-Kai Tea, lead author of the new study and an ichthyology Ph.D. student from the University of Sydney… Up close, the pattern of the scales reminded the scientists of Black Panther’s vibranium suit and even the fabric worn by Wakandans in the “Black Panther” film… (11 July 2019)

Tanzania scolds US for alert warning of rumours of attacks
(AP News USA – online) Extract: Tanzania’s government has scolded the United States for issuing a terror alert warning American citizens about rumours of impending attacks in an area of Dar es Salaam popular with foreigners. A foreign ministry statement … says the alert created panic among some members of the public. It reminded the U.S. of “the importance of observing international diplomacy procedures.” … (21 June 2019)


by Donovan McGrath

How an emerging African megacity cut commutes by two hours a day

Two Dart buses operating in Dar es Salaam

(Guardian online UK) Could Dar es Salaam’s experiment with Africa’s first ‘gold standard’ bus rapid transit system offer an alternative to a future dependent on private cars? … Extract continues: Dusk falls in Dar es Salaam, and for hundreds of thousands of people in this African megacity-to-be the daily chaos and frustration of the journey home begins. People cram themselves into daladala minibuses … So far, so normal for a sprawling megalopolis of 6 million with virtually no public transport and only eight lanes of major road heading to and from the centre. Dar es Salaam, the de facto capital of Tanzania, is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Its population has increased eightfold since 1980 and swells by half a million people every year… But Dar es Salaam is pinning its hopes on a solution that could offer a different model for Africa’s megacities … Unlike many cities on the continent, Dar es Salaam isn’t trying to build a metro… but a more achievable route: the bus… Outside the city centre many rely on boda boda motorbike taxis … Their safety record is notorious… The Dart system boasts bus lanes separated from other traffic … ticket payment and control takes place at stations rather than on board … The average journey time from the centre to the terminus at Kimara has been slashed from two hours each way to just 45 minutes, according to sustainable transport group the ITDP … The ITDP awarded the system Africa’s only “gold standard” bus rapid transit (BRT) rating… (8 January 2019)

Tanzanians with albinism embrace a life beyond stigma and superstition
(Guardian online UK) In a country where myths about albinism can have deadly consequences, an organisation set up to battle discrimination is having a profound impact. Extract continues: Paschal Merumba has suffered prejudice from the day he was born. His mother refused to breastfeed her “cursed” baby, the second child in the family born with albinism; the first had already died of neglect… In 2013, Merumba was attacked by men who tried to kill him… He was saved when a neighbour ran screaming towards the group with a torch… “My life was spent in darkness,” says Merumba… Now 54, his life changed after meeting with Alex Magaga, who had worked on the BBC documentary, In the Shadow of the Sun, which tells the story of two Tanzanians with albinism… In parts of Tanzania, up to one in 1,400 people has albinism … Many die of skin cancer before the age of 40 … The myths and misperceptions surrounding albinism in Tanzania are “almost too numerous to count”, says [Sam] Clarke [Standing Voice’s communications manager – an organisation that defends the rights of people with albinism]… In Tanzania, 75 albinos were killed between 2000 and 2016… (23 January 2019)

Chimpanzees develop distinct local cultures, and we’re destroying them
(Washington Post online USA) Extract: The chimpanzees of Tanzania may be the most famous tool users in the animal kingdom. Famed primatologist Jane Goodall first observed them in the 1960s using grass sticks to “fish” for termites in their mounds. But since Goodall, other scientists have discovered that chimps have more than one way to catch a termite. Those in Congo, for instance, gnaw on the end of their tools of choice to turn them into paintbrush-like instruments, which seem able to catch even more termites than straight-tipped rods. In Uganda, some chimpanzees simply break into termite mounds with their hands. Everywhere chimpanzees roam, scientists are uncovering more fascinating behaviours such as harvesting algae with long poles, mining honey out of the ground using sticks and accessing hidden reserves of water inside trees with sponges fashioned from chewed-up leaves. These and other behaviours make up the basis of what scientists increasingly describe as chimpanzee “culture” – learned traditions that vary by location. And humans might be killing it, according to a study . . . in the journal Science. The study suggests that people and their disturbances of ecosystems may be hindering the transmission of chimpanzee culture, and in some cases, destroying it altogether. . . [M]ore than 75 scientists and other researchers compiled data from 144 chimpanzee communities found across 15 countries in West and Central Africa. . . Chimpanzees living in areas with the most human disturbance had less varied behavioural repertoires, the study found… The idea that chimpanzees possess distinct cultures is still relatively new … (7 March 2019)

Meet Tanzania soccer freestyle queen who earned praise from President Trump

Hadhara Charles

(CNN online USA) Extract: Tanzania rarely features in discussions of Africa’s soccer hotspots. But that perception might be changing thanks to the skills of soccer freestyle queen Hadhara Charles, which are winning plaudits from celebrities across the world including US President Donald Trump. A viral tweet of Charles displaying her range of flicks and tricks in a dress and flip-flops has been watched more than 10 million times, earning 125,000 retweets and more than 400,000 likes. President Trump was among those impressed, tweeting “Amazing!” just after a message in which he accused former FBI director Andrew McCabe of treason. British television host Piers Morgan also shared the clip with the comment “Brilliant.” The star herself was pleased to receive acclaim from such high-profile quarters. “It feels good that Donald Trump shared the video,” Charles told CNN.

“Here I am not paid. Sports doesn’t pay.” Charles, a mother of two, is a specialist in the art of freestyle soccer, which is based on juggling and tricks with the ball using any part of the body. Freestyle has become a popular pursuit around the world and the leading exponents compete in prestigious international championships… The freestyler has won acclaim in her home country and represents Tanzania in events in Gabon, Cameroon, South Africa and Ethiopia. In 2018, Charles came third in the first African Freestyle Football Championship. But prestige has not been accompanied by financial rewards for Charles, who still struggles to support her family. “I get these opportunities to travel but no pay,” she says. “If only I had sponsorship or some deal to support myself it will work form me (and) my two children will have enough for food and basic needs.” … Recognition from President Trump offers a moment of satisfaction for Charles. But her true ambition is to make those magical skills deliver a more comfortable life for her family. (26 February 2019)

Tanzanian ref banned for life by Fifa for taking bribes
(BBC online UK) Extract: One of Tanzania’s top referees has been handed a life ban from football after Fifa found him guilty of taking bribes. The case, opened in July 2018, was handled by Fifa’s Ethics Committee which ruled Oden Charles Mbaga had breached the Fifa Code of Ethics. Fifa told Reuters that the ban relates to bribes “to manipulate several national and international matches between 2009-2012” … Speaking from Dar es Salaam, Mbaga told the news agency he was questioned by Fifa in 2010 but had not heard anything since and knew nothing about match-fixing. “This is shocking news to me,” he said… Mbaga has also been fined $200,000. He has been banned for life from all football-related activities, not just refereeing, at national and international level… [F]ormer international referee Ibrahim Chalbou from Niger was also banned for life and fined $200,000 after being found guilty of taking bribes … (27 February 2019)

Tanzania male MPs face circumcision call to stop HIV spread
(BBC online UK) A female MP in Tanzania has called for checks to determine whether or not her male colleagues have undergone circumcision – a procedure known to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Extract continues: Jackline Ngonyani said any MPs found not to have been circumcised should be required to undergo the procedure. Her suggestion divided opinion among her colleagues. HIV is seen as a major threat to public health in Tanzania. Around 70% of the male population is circumcised. Around 5% of Tanzania’s adult population is believed to have been infected by HIV – giving it the 13th highest rate of infection in the world, according to figures from 2016. The World Health Organization (WHO) says circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual men contracting HIV by around 60%. Several African countries that are fighting HIV epidemics have launched campaigns to encourage men to undergo the procedure, which involves surgically removing the foreskin from the penis. Ms Ngonyani made the comments during a debate in parliament … Her suggestion was backed by MP Joseph Selasini… However, MP Joseph Kasheku opposed Ms Ngonyani’s proposal, describing it as uncouth and invasive. (6 February 2019)

Unique Tanzania forest granted official protection after research reveals it is on brink of collapse

The Endangered Magombera Chameleon. Photo by Andrew Marshall

(Independent online UK) ‘When I first began work in the forest 15 years ago it was clearly a biologically important place, but it rang with the sound of axes and machetes,’ says project leader. Extract continues: The Tanzanian government has agreed to set aside a unique forest as a new nature reserve after research revealed it was about to be wiped out for good. Magombera forest is home to a recently discovered species of chameleon and threatened animals including bush babies and elephants. But illegal logging and poaching have pushed the valuable ecosystem to the brink of destruction, with some estimates predicting it was on the brink of total destruction… Tanzanian authorities has reached the $1m (£0.78m) required to protect the land. The value of the forest has been recognised for many years. . . Thousands of trees are already growing back in areas of forest that had been stripped bare. The newly created 6,463 acre Magombera Nature Reserve houses an enormous amount of species within a relatively small area, and is considered among the most biodiverse forests in Africa… (17 January 2019)

Mnyamawamtuka: Scientists discover new dinosaur with heart-shaped tail

Reconstruction of a pair of M. moyowamkia in a rainstorm in Tanzania during the Cretaceous Period. (Mark Witton)

(Independent online UK) Extract: The plant-eating dinosaur was discovered in Africa and reportedly lived 100 million years ago. . . Apart from its vast size, the 30-foot dinosaur also displayed another fascinating feature – heart-shaped bones in its tail. Researchers named the dinosaur Mnyamawamtuka Moyowamkia from Swahili for “animal of the Mtuka” and “heart-shaped tail” and joked that the animal “wore it’s heart on its tail.” In addition to its unique bone structure, the discovery of the dinosaur’s remains, which were found in a riverbed in the East African Rift system of Tanzania, allows scientists to piece together information about how ecosystems evolved in Africa during the Cretaceous period. Previously, titanosaurs were identified in South America, but the new species discovered in Tanzania, Egypt and other parts of the African continent offer a more complex picture of their evolution… The new dinosaur … is one of three new titanosaurs to be found in the area… The fossilised bones of the dinosaur … suggests the animal also shared similarities with another dinosaur “Malawisaurus, from just across the Tanzania-Malawi border,” according to Dr Gorscak [research associate, and professor at Midwestern University]. The researchers also discovered other animals in the East African Rift, including relatives of early crocodiles and evidence of “insect farming” from fossilised termite nests, as well as clues about the evolution of monkeys and apes. “The African story is far from over …” (13 February 2019)

Canadians bring solar power to off-the-grid Africa

A couple enjoy clean electric lighting and television powered from a solar energy system (M-Kopa)

(Global and Mail online Canada) M-Kopa and Jaza Energy take different approaches, but their founders agree there is plenty of room for expansion in East Africa. Extract continues: Jaza Energy and M-Kopa, both started by Canadians, are bringing small-scale solar energy to communities in Tanzania and, in M-Kopa’s case, to Kenya and Uganda as well. Their main line of business is similar, and it’s one that the long term may be potentially disruptive for utilities in developed countries. Both firms deal in distributed generation – providing on-site, off-the-grid electricity that can be installed cheaply and quickly and which doesn’t necessarily require giant infrastructure such a power plants or transmission lines… “Our customers pay the equivalent of about 50 cents a day, making payment by phone. Over time, within a year or two, they are buying their solar system from us, in the same way as you would take a mortgage from a bank and buy your house,” [says Jesse Moore, M-Kopa’s CEO]. M-Kopa … has connected more than 700,000 homes in East Africa to solar power, with 500 homes added every day. The company says that by using solar power to light homes, its customers save the equivalent of 75-million hours of kerosene that would otherwise be burning, emitting fumes and contributing to climate change. Jaza, started in 2016, is smaller than M-Kopa, powering about 2,000 households, or about 10,500 people in Tanzania. It sets up its power units through small-scale retail hubs, often run by women, which are both sales points and solar-powered recharging stations. Customers take their removable power batteries to the local hub each week to swap… Unlike M-Kopa, Jaza doesn’t rely on mobile phones for payment … Swapping Jaza’s batteries costs households the equivalent of 55 cents Canadian each week, so it is indeed cheaper than M-Kopa’s panels… (17 January 2019)


by Donovan McGrath

How To Get Women To Trust The Police? ‘Gender’ Desks
(National Public Radio – USA) Extract: How do you get a woman to report to the police that she’s been assaulted or abused if she doesn’t trust the police to take action? That, says activist Jamila Juma, is a serious problem in Zanzibar. Juma is the executive director of the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZAFELA) … “[Some police officers] don’t understand about rape or they think it’s a women’s issue, so they don’t care,” Juma says… The police agree with her. “Gender-based violence is persistent in Zanzibar but women are not confident in reporting these issues,” says deputy sergeant Mauwa Saleh … Today, over 400 police stations across Tanzania have Police Gender and Children’s Desks, including seven of Zanzibar’s 20 police stations… The gender desks initiative was first proposed in 2009 by the Tanzanian Police Female Network (TPFNet), a professional association formed in 2007 that aims to improve the way the police relate to women in the community… Statistics illustrate the need for these desks. Nearly half of Tanzanian women under the age of 50 say they have been physically or sexually assaulted … The desks aim to make both special handling and privacy available to victims of gender-based violence… (15 August 2018)

UK aid minister hails ‘double win’ of heroin crackdown in Tanzania
(Guardian.com – UK) Extract: British border agents and the Royal Marines have stopped millions of pounds worth of heroin trade across the western Indian Ocean, where the drug is being transported from Afghanistan to east Africa for eventual sale in Europe. The international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said the anti-smuggling scheme in Tanzania, funded from the UK’s aid budget, was vital for development in the nation but would also protect the UK and Europe from the effects of organised crime… “This is a win for Tanzania as we tackle the drivers of instability and poverty which hold back development, but also a win for the UK as we are tackling criminal networks that work in both countries and stopping drugs and organised crime coming to our shores,” she said. The Department for International Development estimates that 40% of the heroin being sent across the west Indian Ocean is destined for Tanzania … Since the early 2000s there has been a significant rise in organised criminal groups smuggling Afghan heroin through ports along the Swahili coast from Pakistan and Iran. Most of the drug ends up in Europe, though development officials say an increasing amount is sold directly on the streets of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar… (Accessed 6 December 2018)

As Tanzania’s LGBT fear for their lives, HIV will thrive
(CNN – USA) In one day, everything changed. Extract continues: … “Since the announcement was made, things got worse,” said the 23-year-old trans woman from Tanzania, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for her safety… The announcement that she says changed her life was made by powerful politician Paul Makonda, regional governor of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city… [H]e vowed to set up a task force to round up and arrest people suspected of being gay… Makonda’s call for all gay people to be reported to him initiated a chain reaction in the country, forcing many into hiding… People already faced a 30-year jail sentence in Tanzania for gay male sex, a holdover from colonial-era laws, mirroring severe penalties for same sex relationships across many African countries… Under the administration of President John Magufuli, rights groups believe, the situation has gotten worse, with the closure of LGBT-friendly clinics and the prohibition of community organizations that do HIV outreach … But the prospect of a civilian task force scouring the streets and giving civilians the power to report people brought a new level of terror… Those unable to flee are instead pushed underground and into hiding, kept from entering the outside world – which blocks their access to health services, such as those protecting against HIV/AIDS… (1 December 2018)

Journalist released from detention in Tanzania
(CNN – USA) Extract: Two Committee Protect Journalists staffers have been released from detention in Tanzania and have left the country … Extract continues: Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo were permitted to return to their hotel in Dar es Salaam after being taken to an unknown location and subjected to “several hours of questioning,” according to a news release. Their passports were also returned. “Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo travelled to Tanzania to understand the challenges facing the Tanzanian press and to inform the global public,” Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon said in a statement. “It is deeply ironic that through their unjustified and abusive detention of our colleagues, Tanzanian authorities have made their work that much easier. It is now abundantly clear to anyone who followed the latest developments that Tanzanian journalists work in a climate of fear of intimidation. We call on the government of Tanzania to allow journalists to work freely and to allow those who defend their rights to access the country without interference.” … (8 November 2018)

Amnesty International condemns Tanzania’s ‘attack’ on family planning
(CNN – Lagos, Nigeria) Tanzania’s government directive to suspend family planning commercials in the country has generated concerns about birth control policies in the country. Extract continues: The government … contacted agencies funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that are involved in birth control projects and told them to stop running any family planning content in the media, a directive that rights group Amnesty International called an attack on the sexual and reproductive health of people in the East African country… But a health ministry official told CNN the decision was to “restructure and review” media advertisements on birth control… “We are reviewing these adverts, some of them are outdated. Most of the messages are not catering for the new generation,” [Ahmad Makuwani, director of reproductive and child health in the ministry, said]… (25 September 2018)

Why is once-peaceful Tanzania detaining journalists, arresting schoolgirls and killing opposition leaders?
(Washington Post – USA) Extract: … Tanzanian politics has been making international headlines. Journalists representing the Committee to Protect Journalists were detained in Dar es Salaam … The government expelled pregnant girls from school. Paul Makonda, the regional commissioner for Dar, announced plans to round up LGBT people. Eventually, the rest of the government distanced itself from Makonda, but the damage was done… What’s going on? … How have things become so repressive so quickly? The answer lies in the 2015 election of John Magufuli as president. Since then, opposition politicians have been arrested, harassed and beaten. TV offices have been raided and newspapers suspended. Regime critics – journalists, business executives, opposition politicians, student leaders – have been kidnapped, forced into exile or assassinated by “unknown assailants.” … Much of this violence has been kept quiet because it has been local… The government has shied away from open repression, which could lead to losing international aid and moderate voters’ support. Through local officials, Magufuli can use violence – while still being able to distance himself from an “unruly local official” when necessary… (30 November 2018)


edited by Donovan McGrath

Flooding in Tanzania city leaves at least 14 dead
News24 (South Africa) online: Fourteen people have died as a result of days of torrential rains and flooding in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s eco­nomic capital, police said … The number killed has been slowly rising as heavy rains have continued to hit the east African nation … Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda ordered primary schools closed for two days and advised families to leave inundated areas in a bid to limit the loss of life. (18 April 2018)

Tanzania: Diamond Platnumz Arrested for Sharing Indecent Content On Social Media
AllAfrica.com (Washington DC) online: Popular Musicians Nasib Abdul alias Diamond Platinumz is under police custody for posting indecent video clips on social media … Minister of Information, Arts culture and Sports Dr Harrison Mwakyembe revealed this on Tuesday April 17. Dr Mwakyembe also instructed the authorities to arrest a female Musician, Nandi after posting indecent videos on social media … He was respond­ing to a supplementary question from Ulanga Member of Parliament, Goodluck Mlinga, who sought to know, what the government was doing against people, who are misusing social media platforms … (17 April 2018)

Tanzania launches early-age cervical cancer vaccine
BBC (UK) online: More than 600,000 girls in Tanzania have started receiving vaccines to prevent cervical cancer. Girls aged between nine and 14 are being targeted to protect them from developing the illness at an early age… Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Tanzania and kills more women than any other form … Tanzania is the seventh African country to introduce the human papilloma virus (HPV) vac­cine into its routine immunisation programme, after Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa. The health minister says USD $15 will be spent treating each girl… Tanzania’s government hopes the early-stage vaccines will help to reduce the bill for cervical cancer treatment, which typically costs about USD $2,000 per patient…
(10 April 2018)

Tanzanian authors win Mabati-Cornell Prize
Daily Nation (Kenya) online: Two Tanzanian Kiswahili authors have won the 2017 Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. Ali Hilal Ali won the fiction category for his novel, Mmeza Fupa. The poetry award went to Dotto Rangimoto for his collection, Mwanangu Rudi Nyumbani. They pocketed USD $5,000 each… The winners of the third edition of the prestigious literature prize were announced online on January 15, 2018 by chair of the Board of Trustees, Abdilatif Abdalla. The awards ceremony followed in February in Nairobi. In their jury, the judges described Mmeza Fupa as: “Rarely does one encounter a Kiswahili novel whose writer has exhibited the nuanced mastery of artistic language which naturally flows and without traces of artifi­ciality. In Mmeza Fupa, the various characters – main and otherwise – convey and represent the different social strata, with their attendant historical, political, psychological, cultural, rural and urban environ­ments and concomitant contradictions.” “Although set on an imaginary island, the political novel is clearly speaking to what ails the African continent. Mmeza Fupa has opened a new door in this particular genre in Kiswahili Literature,” they added. “In Mwanangu Rudi Nyumbani, one encounters seductive metaphors and imagery, effectively and successfully used in diverse Kiswahili poetic forms and styles while articulating concerns that have direct bearing to the human condition,” the judges noted. “Dotto discusses weighty and serious matters but in a manner that doesn’t burden the reader. Instead he encourages one to keep on reading. He is a master of the craft. The volume is a great contribution to contemporary Kiswahili poetry,” they added… Ali is a budding Kiswahili novelist and poet. He was born in Kalani, Pemba, in 1989, and grew up in Wete … Ali’s initial attempt in novel and poetry writing was in 2008. His first novel, Safari Yangu, was published in 2015 by Buluu Publishing, in Paris, France. He has also contributed several poems in an anthology by five poets, Diwani ya Kurasa Mpya. Rangimoto, one of the upcoming Kiswahili poets, was born in Morogoro, Tanzania, in 1986. He completed his secondary education in 2004 at Morogoro Secondary School. Thereafter, he has been involved in small enterprise business and farming. He is a great enthusiast of Kiswahili literature, especially novels and poetry. (14 April 2018)

Tanzania’s Information minister wants Air Tanzania to hire beauty contestants
Business Daily Africa (Kenya) online: Tanzania’s information minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe … says women participating in the Miss Tanzania beauty pageant should be considered for employment at the State-run airline Air Tanzania… [He] argues that by recruiting them, the beauty competition will be seen as a bridge to success for Tanzania’s beautiful ladies. Dr Mwakyembe spoke … while officiating this year’s Miss Tanzania’s pageant… “All they need is to undergo a three-month­training at the National Institute of Transport before joining the ATCL team,” he said. (9 April 2018)

Magufuli’s 24km wall helps curb theft of Tanzania’s gemstones, rev­enue up
Africa News (Pointe Noire, Congo) online: The government of Tanzania says revenue from its rare gemstones, Tanzanite, has risen four-fold for the first quarter of this year as against same time last year. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told lawmakers … that Tanzania earned over USD $316,000 from the minerals and the government puts it down to having curbed theft. The president … inaugurated a 24km wall around mines in the country’s north as a part of efforts to curb the theft and attendant loss of revenue from the mineral… John Pombe Magufuli ordered the military in September 2017 to build the wall which is estimated to have cost the government $3.5m. The blue-violet tanzanite gemstone is found only in the East African nation. Smuggling of minerals is a headache that many countries are struggling with. The move comes months after the president ordered renegotiation of mining concessions with multi­national companies… (12 April 2018)

Tanzania takes historic step to save dwindling elephant population
CNN (USA) online: In Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve … [a]lmost 90% of the park’s elephants have been lost over the past 40 years. “Tanzania has been extremely hard hit by the latest elephant poaching crisis that has hit the African continent for 10 years,” Bas Huijbregts, WWF’s African species manager, told CNN. In an effort to get a grip on the situation, a new project launched by the Tanzanian government, with support from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is the country’s largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect the rapidly declining popula­tion… The project will span 12 months and around 60 elephants are expected to be tagged… The rangers will be able to track and identify Selous’ elephants, and respond in real-time when they are under threat. Satellite collaring is an established method of tracking wildlife and bolstering efforts to save species under threat, especially in such large areas… The majority of poaching of elephants is for ivory… In 40 years elephant numbers have plummeted from 110,000 to 15,200… Selous Game Reserve also hopes to boost the numbers of tourists. It’s a relatively underserved park compared to reserves in the north of the country… (11 April 2018)


by Donovan McGrath

The dinosaur of Dodoma John Magufuli is bulldozing the opposition and wrecking the economy

Economist.com (UK): Critically ill in a hospital in Nairobi, Tundu Lissu, the chief whip of Tanzania’s main opposition party, Chadema, is a lesson to those who would criticise the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli … On September 7th Mr Lissu was gunned down in broad daylight near his house in … Dodoma, after returning from a session in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weeks after he was arrested – for the sixth time – for such things as insulting the president… “This cowardly attack on one of Tanzania’s most fearless and prominent politicians raises concerns about the safety of all dissident voices in the country, at a time when space for dissent is quickly shrinking,” said Amnesty International … Tanzania, a country of 55m people … is rarely seen as one of Africa’s problem cases. Unlike Congo, Uganda or Burundi, it has never had a civil war or a military dictatorship… Yet, over the past two years, since the election of John Magufuli, Tanzania’s descent into autocracy has been stunning. It is a lesson in how when the presidency is strong and other institutions are weak, a single bad leader can set a country back many years… Mr Magufuli, who is nicknamed “the bulldozer”, impressed many when he came into office by cracking down on corruption. But his economic ideas have a whiff of the “African socialism” of Julius Nyerere, the country’s founding leader, who declared a one-party state, nationalised factories and forced peasants at gunpoint onto collective farms. Donors had to step in to prevent mass starvation… Mr Magufuli is not as ruinously radical. But he has caused traffic to collapse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s main port, which serves six countries, by imposing a huge tax on goods that pass through it. Ships have simply gone to Kenya instead. More startling still is Tanzania’s dispute with Acacia, a British gold-mining firm. The government claims that its two mines have been producing more than 10 times as much gold as they declared (which would make them the two largest gold mines in the world, by far). Preposterously, it says the firm owes taxes of $190bn, or roughly four times Tanzania’s annual GDP… Other firms worry they may be next. Petra Diamonds closed its mine in Tanzania in September after the government seized a parcel of diamonds it was exporting. And on October 9th Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian cement billionaire, accused Mr Magufuli if scaring investors away… What will happen now? There are few constraints on Mr Magufuli. With the opposition neutered, the ruling party remains mostly unchallenged. Mr Magufuli’s allies in parliament have even suggested extending the presidential term from five years to seven. Tanzania suffered wretchedly under one bull-headed socialist. It cannot afford another. (19 October 2017)Thanks to Roger Bowen for this item – Editor

WWF slams down Stiegler dam plan

Morning Star (UK): The World-wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released a report … warning that the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric dam, intended to electrify [Tanzania], would threaten wetland and put 200,000 fishing jobs downriver at risk. Tanzanian President John Magufuli … said  for the sixth time – for such things as insulting the president. in parliament. The attempted assassination came just two weethat the dam and resulting reservoir will cover only about 3 per cent of the Selous region the WWF says will be devastated. But the environmentalists dispute his figures… (5 July 2017)Thanks to Jeremy Jones for this item – Editor


This Young Woman is Fighting Poverty in Tanzania by Teaching Women to Make Clothes

Glamour.com (USA): Boke is from a remote part of Tanzania that is beautiful but impoverished. By the time Boke was nine, both of her parents had died and she and her sister were sent to live with their grandmother. The grandmother meant well, but struggled to care for the girls, leaving Boke to look after her sister and the home. That took a toll on her education, and even though Boke is a bright girl, she never graduated from primary school. Now 20 years old, Boke lives at City of Hope, an incredible children’s home and school for underprivileged children in Tanzania. At City of Hope, Boke has found stability and even become fluent in English, but she was still too far behind academically to graduate from high school like most of the students at City of Hope aim to do. Instead, Boke is learning a specialized skill that she hopes will guarantee her a stable future: She’s learning to sew. City of Hope was founded by John Chacha and Regina Horst, an improbable husband-wife team. He grew up on the border of Tanzania and Kenya, she was a Canadian-American Mennonite… In 2007, they opened City of Hope in Ntagacha, a region of western Tanzania that was then rife with violence. Today the campus is home to more than 100 orphans, plus a clinic, a primary school that enrols 450 students, and a new secondary school that enrols another 50. John Chacha died in an automobile accident in 2015 while travelling to enrol a student in secondary school, but City of Hope has continued to grow and thrive with Regina at the helm. And now Tenzi Chacha, John and Regina’s daughter, is rounding out the curriculum at City of Hope by adding a new program she calls SEW, for Sewing Empowers Women. Tenzi has been interested in sewing and fashion since middle school, and realized that sewing could be useful for women in Tanzania… (8 December 2017) 


Tanzanian President Magufuli pardons child rapists

BBC.co.uk: Children’s rights activists have condemned the pardon of two child rapists by the Tanzanian president. Kate McAlpine, director of the Arusha-based Community for Children Rights, told the BBC she was “horrified but unsurprised”. John Magufuli made the pardon in his independence day speech … Singer Nguza Viking, known as Babu Seya, and his son Johnson Nguza, known as Papii Kocha, were pardoned for raping 10 primary schoolgirls… The president selected a group of prisoners to be released, who he said had corrected their behaviour. Ms McAlpine said the pardon illustrated Mr Magufuli showed a “lack of understanding about violence against children”. She linked this latest speech to his June announcement where he banned pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school (see TA118). “He has a blind spot when it comes to recognising children as victims. Pregnant schoolgirls are pregnant because they are victims of violence.” … Child rape cases in Tanzania tend to be dealt with between families, or rapists have been known to pay off police and court staff, Ms McAlpine said… (11 December 2017)


Barrick cedes gold assets in effort to settle Tanzanian dispute

Financial Times (UK): This dispute has been going on for some time (see TA117 and TA118) … when the Tanzanian government banned the export of unprocessed ores in an effort to boost the domestic smelting industry. It then accused Acacia [of which Barrick owns 64 per cent], one of Africa’s largest gold producers and Tanzania’s largest private employers, of illegally under-reporting its shipments and of tax evasion.  After a series of talks, Barrick’s chairman John Thornton and President John Magufuli finally reached an agreement. Extract continues: Barrick Gold has agreed to cede 16 per cent of Acacia Mining’s three mines in Tanzania to the state and pay $300m as the first step towards settling a six-month dispute over its subsidiary’s operations. Acacia’s Tanzania operations in the three mines, which produce mainly gold but also copper, will be managed through a new company with all “economic benefits” being shared equally between the London-listed miner and the government, the two sides agreed in a deal … The government’s share will be delivered in the form of royalties, taxes and the 16 per cent free carry interest in the operations, Barrick said. The agreement does not settle a $190bn tax dispute between Acacia and Tanzania; the $300m is a “gesture of good faith”, Barrick said and would be paid by Acacia. Acacia’s shares soared 20 per cent on the news of the deal but they are still 60 per cent below where they were before the dispute began. President John Magufuli of Tanzania wants to wring a greater share of mining company proceeds, which he says are too generous to the companies and the result of contentious practices under previous governments. He has also targeted Petra Diamonds, another London-listed miner… Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and one of the biggest investors in Tanzania, accused Mr Magufuli of compromising foreign investment. “They’ve scared quite a lot of investors and scaring investors is not a good thing to do,” he said… (19 October 2017) – Thanks to Jeremy Jones for this item – Editor


Tanzania’s anti-corruption government is stifling the “Swahili Wikileaks”

Quartz magazine (New York) online: Maxence Melo is a man who knows the insides of Tanzania’s courthouses all too well. In 2017 alone, he has appeared in court about 51 times he says, accused of obstructing justice, operating an unregistered website, and refusing to reveal the identities of users who shared sensitive information. Melo, 38, is the co-founder of Jamii Forums (JF), a popular Swahili social media networking site that is part whistle-blowing platform and part citizen journalism outlet. Since it was founded in 2006, he has been harassed, threatened, detained, interrogated, and at one point barred from travelling abroad. And over the last two years, as president John Magufuli’s government tightened its grip on both the digital and traditional media spaces, Melo has become the poster boy for the crackdown… The clampdown has taken on a new significance as the government recently introduced a law that would give it unfettered powers to police the web. The proposed Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017 calls for the registration of blogs and online forums, orders internet cafes to install surveillance cameras, prohibits material deemed as “offensive, morally improper” or that “causes annoyance,” and recommends a fine of 5 million Tanzanian shillings ($2,230) or 12 months in jail for anyone found guilty. Observers and activists have argued that some of the definitions provided in the law are ambiguous, violate individual privacy, curtail citizen’s right to free speech and expression and go against the spirit of an open internet… Be for he left power in 2015, former president Jakaya Kikwete signed a cybercrime law – informally known as the “Jamii bill” – that gives authorities powers to jail those who offend the president or publish false information… The panoply of laws scapegoating digital media outlets is also targeting traditional outlets like newspapers. [In 2017], both Mwanahalisi and Mawio newspapers were banned in Tanzania for one and two years respectively …  (12 December 2017)


No pain relief, no running water: the perils of childbirth in Tanzania

Eva Paulo with her baby daughter, Neema Nkwaya, one day old, at home in Nyarugusu (both photos Sameer Satchu for WaterAid)

Guardian (UK) online: ‘Natural birth’ is the only option for many women here, and though dedicated midwives do their best, the risk of infection – and sepsis – is high. Extract continues: At the Nyarugusu medical dispensary in north-west Tanzania, Eva Paulo, 23, is in her 36th hour of labour… “This is too much,” she says, as another contraction racks her. “I don’t know why it’s taking so long. And the midwives, they don’t tell me anything.” It is, of course, a universal complaint of women in labour the world over. But for many women in Tanzania, “natural birth” isn’t a preference or an accomplishment – it’s the only viable option. Paulo is about to give birth for the fourth time in the most basic hospital conditions imaginable… While the staff will do their best, Paulo will receive no pain relief, no foetal monitoring and no medical interventions. The lack of doctors means caesarean sections are not performed here. Another problem – from which so many others stem – is a lack of water. There is no running water for hand-washing, sterilisation or laundry. Toilets are filthy, squat outhouses a short walk from the building. Each morning, staff at the clinic buy 20 jerry cans of water from a local vendor for 500 shillings (about 16p) each, for basic cleaning. The money comes out of their own pockets, which is significant for nurses who earn less than £200 a month.  Because of this, pregnant women are required to arrive with their own water… Without water, the delivery room cannot be properly cleaned between deliveries, of which there are several each day… (2 October 2017)


Police arrest woman in Tanzania over video of her kissing and embracing a female friend in crackdown on homosexuality

Mail (UK) online: … The woman, who police said resides in the north-western Tanzanian town of Geita, was arrested after a video circulated on social media showing a woman kissing and hugging another woman and presenting her with a ring… Tanzanian president John Magufuli’s government has stepped up a crackdown against homosexuality since coming into power in 2015 and threatened in June to arrest and expel activists, as well as de-register all non-governmental organisations that campaign for gay rights… The arrest of the woman in Geita was thought to be the first arrest of a lesbian suspect in the recent crackdown and police sources said authorities were also searching for the woman who was given the ring in the video clip… The clip drew condemnation on social media platforms in the socially conservative nation, with some Tanzanians condemning the celebration as immoral… (2 December 2017)


Dramatic moment when workers use a bulldozer to free five wild elephants after they fell into a pit while looking for water in Tanzania

Mail (UK) online: … The herd – three adults and two baby [calves] – were discovered in a small trench in Rungwa Game Reserve, dehydrated and unable to escape. Manyoni natives from the Singida region quickly alarmed employers from Chinese construction company Sinohydro. The construction workers were located about 40 km from the reserve, and were asked to assist with saving the trapped elephants. The multinational firm dispatched engineers and a bulldozer, more than an hour later, they brought with them a construction digger to help with the operation… The pit was so small that the elephants pushed each other in panic. After a gruelling five hours of continuous effort, a female elephant and her baby were the first to stumble out of the pit. Two others followed them later. Liang Jifeng from the Tanzanian Department of Sinohydro Bureau 13 confirmed to Chinese news agency Xinhua that they were remarkably saved but one adult elephant died from a lack of water… (3 October 2017)


Cows and chickens cause spat between Kenya and Tanzania

Mail (UK) online: A diplomatic spat over cows and chickens has worsened already frosty ties between Kenya and Tanzania, with Nairobi lodging a formal protest against its neighbour, the foreign minister said … The latest impasse between the two east African nations began … when Tanzania seized and auctioned off 1,300 cattle which had wandered across the border to graze in a region where herders typically pay little heed to frontiers. Then … Tanzania seized and burnt alive 6,500 chicks that had been brought into the country by a trader, fearing they would spread disease… Kenyan traders have complained of mistreatment by Tanzanian immigration agents which has sparked protests at the border, and tit-for-tat trade jabs have seen the two nations blocking the import of various goods from either country… Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, increasingly criticised over his iron-fisted rule, warned Kenya that any livestock wandering into his country would be confiscated… (8 November 2017)


Journalist Reported Missing in Tanzania

New York Times (USA) online: Dodoma, Tanzania – A news organization in Tanzania says one of its journalists is missing after he was kidnapped from his home. Francis Nanai, executive director of Mwananchi Communications Limited, said … their reporter Azory Gwanda, 42, was reportedly kidnapped Nov. 21 in Kibiti town near the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam… Gwanda had published a series of stories on the mysterious killings of civilians and police officers in the area. Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said the police are “shocked” by the news of the missing journalist… (4 December 2017)