by Ben Taylor

Air Tanzania clashes with Airbus, faces financial struggles
Air Tanzania’s ongoing dispute with Airbus took a new twist in March, when the airline (ATCL) took the matter to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), calling on the assistance of four other African airlines to pressurise the manufacturer to find a solution.

Two ATCL planes have been grounded since October 2022 due to failure of its engines, with the airline blaming the manufacturer for failing to secure new engines.

The other airlines called upon for assistance include Air Senegal and Egyptair. The latter reportedly has 12 Airbus aircraft, out of which 10 have been grounded for similar defects.

ATCL’s Director General, Ladislaus Matindi, said that the manufacturer will have to pay ATCL compensation as spelt out in the contract, but complained that the process has taken a long time, and that in the meantime the company is accumulating losses.

Currently, ATCL has a fleet of 12 aircraft, of which three are grounded due to technical and legal issues, including two Airbus with the capacity to carry between 120 and 160 passengers.

Meanwhile, the Controller and Auditor General reported that ATCL incurred a loss of TSh 35.2 billion (around USD $15m) in the financial year 2021/22. This represents a relatively small reduction in losses compared to the previous year, when they stood at TSh 36.1 billion.

Earlier, in February, the Deputy Minister for Works and Transport, Atupele Mwakibete, told Parliament in Dodoma that the government has set aside funds to bailout ATCL. Specifically, he said the government has allocated over TSh 10 billion to settle debts owed to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) workers.

Preliminary report for Precision Air crash released
In Match, a preliminary report on the Precision Air plane crash was released by the Works and Transport Ministry through the Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).

A Precision Air aircraft with 39 passengers and four crew on board crashed into Lake Victoria on November 6 last year as it was flying from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba. Nineteen people died in the accident [see TA134].

According to the report, the weather in Bukoba was poor when the plane went down and the crew did not respond appropriately to a series of warnings from the plane’s enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). The aircraft was on final approach to Bukoba Airport in marginal weather conditions when the EGPWS warned about the excessively high descent rate three times. “The warning was not followed by corrective action of the flight crew. Instead, the flight crew pushed the control column into a nose down position,” the report says.

Prior to the crash, the plane circled for about 20 minutes in heavy rain, prompting the flight crew to make right and left turns in order to navigate through narrow weather windows. “Marginal visibility caused high workload among the crew and may have contributed to the failure to react to terrain warnings during the final approach.”

The aircraft and its crew were in good shape, according to the report. “There is no evidence to suggest the flight crew were not fit and healthy prior to the flight,” it says. The aircraft had valid registration, airworthiness and release-to-service certificates and the required scheduled maintenance had been conducted.

Air Transport Accident Investigation assistant director, Mr Redemptus Bugomola, emphasised that the latest findings were merely observations about what happened during the ill-fated flight. “The final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. It will include causal and contributory factors of the accident,” he explained.

The final report is due by November 2023, at the conclusion of a deeper investigation being conducted jointly by aviation experts representing the Tanzanian government, privately-owned Precision Air, and the aircraft’s manufacturers in France.

Mr Gaudence Temu, an aviation expert, said the Precision Air accident should be viewed as an opportunity to learn lessons to prevent similar incidents in the future. “Every incident has a lesson to offer. We need to adhere to the rules and regulations because they are there for a reason,” he said. He added that in his view the flight crew were blameless, and the disaster was caused entirely by bad weather.

KLM briefly suspends flights to Tanzania
Air France-KLM briefly suspended flights to Tanzania in late January, citing claims of civil unrest in the country. The airline resumed flights three days later, and issued an official apology to the government of Tanzania.

It may be coincidental that shortly before the airline’s suspension of flights, the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam warned that “Terrorist groups could attack with little or no warning targeting hotels, embassies, restaurants, malls and markets, police stations, mosques and other frequented places by Westerners.” KLM itself made no public reference to the Embassy’s warning. The Tanzania Police Force assured the public that the country was safe.

While the suspension was in force, Tanzania’s Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology issued a statement noting “with great concern the false claims being spread by some foreign institutions and companies that there is civil unrest in Tanzania.” They dismissed the KLM claims as “baseless, alarmist, unfounded, inconsiderate and insensitive”.

“Our agencies remain vigilant to ensure the safety and protection of individuals and their property…. we are cooperating with our partner states to interdict any security threat,” the statement said.
After the issue was resolved, the Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa thanked and appreciated all those aviation stakeholders who had disregarded the “unfounded and baseless” claims and continued with their operations.

Uber draws criticism

The ride-sharing service, Uber, has drawn criticism for its “ruthless practices” in its control of drivers across Africa, including Tanzania. According to Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), in the decade since Uber’s launch on the continent, the vision of the inclusion and empowerment of African workers in a new, flexible, egalitarian world of work has not materialised. Instead, African labour has been commodified within new digital value chains, which funnel much of the value to northern corporations.

This controversy has played out prominently in Tanzania. When, in March 2022, the government tried to determine a per-kilometre ride-hailing rate and force companies to lower their commissions to 15% amid soaring fuel prices, Uber suspended its operations in the country, giving one day’s notice of its plans. Its main competitor, Bolt, also significantly reduced its operations. Uber resumed operations in Tanzania six months later, apparently having reached an agreement to work with the regulator. Shortly after this, the government agreed to allow Uber and others to charge 25% commission and a 3% booking fee.

Uber thus made it clear that it is willing to leave urban African transport systems in the lurch if and when regulators try to take steps to protect drivers’ pay. The company says it “rigorously engages” with drivers and takes their feedback on board.

MV Mwanza launched on Lake Victoria
The much anticipated MV Mwanza launched its operations in the waters of Lake Victoria in February with a number of senior government officials taking part in the ceremony.

Bearing the nickname ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’, the MV Mwanza is a 1200-passenger ship constructed at Mwanza shipyard. The vessel is 92m long and powered by twin engines, and is designed to carry over 1000 passengers, 400 tonnes of general cargo, 20 cars and three (3) trucks. It will ply between Mwanza and Bukoba ports in Tanzania as well as Kisumu port of Kenya and Port Bell in the Nakawa Division of Kampala, in Uganda.

Bridge to Zanzibar proposed
Tanzania is set to build a bridge that will connect the mainland to the Islands of Zanzibar to ease movement of goods and people, according to the deputy minister of Works and Transport Godfrey Kasekenya. He was speaking in Parliament in April.

Kasekenya said that authorities had met with the prospective investors of M/S China Overseas Engineering Group Company (COVEC), who have shown interest in building the bridge. He said the outcome of the meeting is still being worked on by the governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar. If undertaken, the 50km bridge will be the longest in Africa.


by James L.Laizer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by Ben Taylor

Tanzania experiences first Marburg virus outbreak, now considered to be contained
On March 21, the Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of the Marburg virus in the district of Bukoba in the far north-west of the country, four days after reports of a “possibly contagious disease” emerged in the district. The Ministry stated that five people including a health worker had died as a result of the outbreak, after developing symptoms of fever, vomiting, bleeding, and kidney failure.

The Ministry issued a travel advisory notice on March 22, which requires that all departing and domestic travellers from Kagera region will be required to complete an online traveller’s surveillance form, and that at all points of entry (airport, ground crossing or port), body temperature of all travellers will be checked. All persons with feverish conditions should be prevented from traveling in and out of the country until they complete the monitoring period and are given clearance to travel by the Port Health Authority.

The Ministry also initiated an urgent contact tracing process, identifying over 200 contacts of those infected. All persons in the contact tracing list are monitored regularly and prevented from leaving their places of isolation and travel.

As of April 25, six people have died out of nine confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Of 212 contacts, 206 had completed their monitoring period. Two of the cases involved healthcare workers, including one of those who died. Many of the contacts under monitoring were healthcare workers.

A few days later, the Ministry announced that they were confident that the outbreak had been contained. However, according to best practice procedures for managing such outbreaks, it will not officially be declared over until at least the end of May, 2023, six weeks after the final two patients were confirmed to be Marburg free. In the interim, authorities will maintain active surveillance.

The Health Minister, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, urged the general public to continue taking precautionary measures against the disease and other infectious diseases. She thanked the health experts, especially those on the front line in Kagera Region, including those who provided services to patients, and the contract tracing team.

This was the first ever outbreak of Marburg virus in Tanzania, though outbreaks have been recorded in the DRC, Uganda and Kenya, as well as other parts of the continent. The highly-infectious disease is similar to Ebola, with symptoms including fever, muscle pains, diarrhoea, vomiting and, in some cases, death through extreme blood loss. Hundreds of people have died from the virus in recent years, almost all in Africa. A 2005 outbreak in Angola killed more than 300 people.

According to the WHO, the Marburg virus kills around half of the people it infects. Marburg is considered much more dangerous than Ebola because, unlike with Ebola, there is “no vaccine or post-exposure treatment”, explained Cesar Munoz-Fontela, a specialist in tropical infectious diseases at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. There is no vaccine because, until now, there has been “no market” for one. “Without the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, we wouldn’t have an Ebola vaccine,” he continued, referring to the Everbo jab created in 2015.

The virus can be carried by African green monkeys and pigs, as well as the Egyptian Rousette fruit bat. Among humans, it is spread mostly by people who have spent long periods in caves and mines populated by bats. Between humans, it spreads through bodily fluids and contact with contaminated bedding.

A major success story: reduction in child mortality
Tanzania’s marked reduction in child mortality over the past 2-3 decades is the kind of story that rarely makes headlines, but which should do so. A steady decline in the child mortality rate over this period means that currently 43 children die before reaching the age of five for every thousand children who are born. This is down by more than two thirds since 1999, when the figure was 147 per thousand.

Dr Felix Bundala, the assistant director for child health in the Ministry of Health ascribed the achievement to the successful adoption of Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). IMCI is an integrated approach that aims at reducing preventable mortality, minimize illness and disability of children under five years of age, he explained. This includes focussing on increasing coverage of cost-effective interventions like immunizations.

According to Dr Bundala, between 2013 and 2018 over 7,000 providers from over 3,000 health facilities in 101 out of 185 councils had been trained in IMCI.

Dr Bundala listed pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea as among the leading child killer diseases. Diarrhoea alone is responsible for nearly 20% of all under five deaths, but receives considerably less development assistance as compared to HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

“It is only through IMCI where Pneumonia and Diarrhoea are captured. And therefore, it remains to be a priority intervention,” he pointed out.
He added that more work was needed to end preventable child deaths. In particular, he noted, there was a need for increased investment in primary health care interventions for children.


by Ben Taylor

Viral video prompts debate on corporal punishment in schools
Video footage of a teacher in Kagera Region striking pupils on their feet for allegedly failing to complete an assignment, has prompted much public debate, including among MPs in parliament. The video had been widely circulated on social media.

“This kind of punishment is creating unnecessary public panic,” said Edward Kisau, MP (CCM, Kiteto), and called on the government draft a law to completely end corporal punishment in schools. “Alternatively, it could be reduced to one stick,” he added as other MPs applauded.

“There are countries which have completely banned corporal punishment,” said Mr Abdallah Chikota (CCM, Nanyamba). “Considering the fact that we are currently reviewing the education policy, can we completely stop whipping in schools and find an alternative?” he asked.

In his response, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa explained that the teacher had been suspended pending a proper investigation of the case. “The government will not tolerate such kinds of punishment which violate the laid down procedures,” he added.

Guidelines require that caning should only be carried out by the head teacher or other person authorised by the school head and should be documented in writing. The punishment should not also exceed four strokes for each student.

Opposition MP Conchesta Rwamlaza (Chadema, Special Seats) challenged the Prime Minister who had warned those who recorded the video. “Sharing the video exposed the incident and helped the government to take action against people who would have been otherwise protected by officials,” she said. She added that the Prime Minister’s approach would only lead to people covering up the violence.

In response, Mr Majaliwa said his intention was to avoid unnecessary panic to the public and creating negative image against all teachers. “The teacher who recorded the video should have shared it with education officials for action,” he said.

Mr Saashisha Mafuwe (CCM, Hai) asked the government to regulate the way punishment was administered even in homes. “Such kind of punishment does not only occur in schools,” he said, “but also in homes. What’s the government comment on that?”

However, the Speaker, Tulia Ackson, did not allow the Premier to respond, explaining that it was out of the context.

Corporal punishment is very common in Tanzanian schools. After a similar video was circulated in 2019, Human Rights Watch commented that “corporal punishment is child abuse. It is brutal, widespread, and state-sanctioned in Tanzania. In recent years, Human Rights Watch has spoken to many children who are caned, punched, or slapped by teachers.”

At that time, President Magufuli expressed his support for the individual who was filmed caning the children, arguing that it was an effective form of discipline that had been used for many years.

There is evidence that this view has widespread public support. In a 2016 survey, 79% of Tanzanians said it was either always (8%) or sometimes (71%) acceptable for a teacher to beat a pupil.

“Immoral” Wimpy Kid books banned
The Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Adolf Mkenda, has banned 16 books from use in schools and other education institutions, citing immoral content that violates the country’s cultural norms, morals and good practices in raising children. Speaking to reporters in February, Prof Mkenda warned schools with the stray books in their shelves, saying failure to remove them will attract disciplinary measures including risking the institution’s deregistration.

The list includes thirteen books by the author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney – the popular series titled Diary of a Wimpy Kid – as well as Sex Education: a Guide to Life. It appears that the other two titles listed by the Minister – T is for Transgender, and L is for LGBTQI – are not actually books, but are instead two lines of text from within a single book – An ABC of Equality.

The Minister did not give details as to what content in the various books had caused offence, though the ban followed a public outcry around reported “rampant” homosexuality in Tanzania’s universities. One MP, Frank Haule (CCM) made this claim, and shortly afterwards President Samia Suluhu Hassan publicly called on university students to resist “imported cultures” that go against Tanzanian norms.

It was therefore widely understood that the book ban stemmed from the same concern. This would make sense given the “titles” of the two non-existent books that were banned. However, there are no LGBT storylines or characters in the Wimpy Kid series.

The first book in the Wimpy Kid series was published in 2007 and since then 275 million copies have been sold worldwide in 69 languages, according to the website. There have also been several film adaptations.

Dissertations for sale
University students in Tanzania are increasingly hiring individuals and bureaus to write research reports and dissertations on their behalf in exchange for money, according to an investigation in The Citizen newspaper.

The investigation discovered a rising number of bureaus and individuals who survive by writing dissertations and research reports for postgraduates and undergraduates. People running the bureaus have established offices around university campuses and have employed agents to target potential customers in colleges. Operators of the bureaus are lecturers, former lecturers, academicians, and other academically gifted individuals who have quit employment at universities to join the highly-paying work.

According to the article, the students prepare their research proposal and then contract the “academic writers” to do the rest of the work for an agreed fee. The report found the practice is particularly common among post-graduate students.

“You should first send me the title of your proposal that has been approved by your supervisor, then we can talk about the terms of my service; think of raising up to TSh1.5 million,” said a Morogoro-based dissertation writer (name withheld). Oblivious to the fact he was communicating with a journalist, the writer explained that he had been engaging in the business for the past ten years.

“What I want to assure you is that the dissertation that I’m going to prepare for you will sail. I have never had a case where a dissertation prepared by me was rejected; I know the standards and what exactly your supervisors want,” said the writer.

Another academic based in Dar es Salaam has admitted he has been making a living by writing dissertations for the past four years. He doesn’t feel guilty for the work, saying what he does is to help students achieve their full potential and realise their dreams. “What I do is help students fulfil their dreams. They give me concept notes or proposals, and I do the rest of the work. I collect data for them upon negotiations. At the end of the day, they must read the work and defend it. Now what’s the problem?” asks the writer.

One student – a postgraduate who had recently submitted her master’s thesis at a Dar es Salaam-based university – admitted to using these services. “Mine was prepared by a Kenyan for TSh1.3 million; she’s very, very good! Talk to her about yours and you will see for yourself,” she said.

A lecturer at an Iringa-based university who asked for anonymity admitted the problem was serious but was quick to defend those who engage in the activity. “Lecturers are receiving meagre salaries; they can’t maintain their families, so what they do is just one way of supplementing insufficient salaries,” he said.

“It is true that there are people in town sitting down and writing dissertations for students. I am the associate dean of the School of Education; we once discovered a trend, but I don’t have evidence that my students are engaged in this kind of cheating,” says University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Vice Chancellor, Prof. William Anangisye.

The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) says it has established standards and guidelines for the purpose of regulating the quality and conduct of postgraduate training, research, and innovation. It says the quality assurance standards and guidelines it has set to check academic fraud and ensure ownership of work by students are being respected.

“Our work as TCU is to set minimum guidelines that must be adhered to by universities to ensure quality of education. The standards were set to ensure ownership,” says Prof. Kihampa.


by Philip Richards

Women’s Rugby – a “Try for Change”
In recent years, the game of rugby union is increasingly being embraced and professionalized across the world by women. Led by the Tanzania Rugby Union (TRU), the men’s game in Tanzania has been played and has grown for many years, and now the women of the country want to get in on the act.

The person leading the charge is Fatma El-kindiy who is from Botswana where she contributed to the development of the women’s game there. El-kindiy had originally visited Tanzania to see her mother but relocated permanently in June 2021 and admits she first contacted the Tanzania Rugby Union (TRU) because she “didn’t have anything else to do” when she first arrived.

Fatma El-kindiy at a training session – Photo Women in Rugby

Back in Botswana she became an advocate for the benefits the oval-ball game could provide young women and girls and helped to devise a programme, ‘A Try for Change’, to help encourage more women and young girls in the country to pick up a rugby ball. The success of the programme contributed to El-kindiy becoming an ‘Unstoppable’ in Botswana, part of a role model campaign by Rugby Africa to fast track women’s rugby across the continent. When she moved to Dar es Salaam she was keen to have a similar impact on female participation in Tanzania. She now has a new goal: to field Tanzania’s first women’s national team, and this year a women’s team has been invited to participate in a Burundi Women’s Day tournament involving 6 nations from East and Central Africa.

The TRU had struggled to grow interest in female participation and so when they received the phone call from El-kindiy, they were only too happy to accept her offer of help. She has since become head of development for women’s rugby and set about increasing opportunities for and interest in women playing the game. One area where interest has ignited is Ukonga, in Illala District of Dar es Salaam Region. There, with the help of coach Denis Lipiki, El-kindiy has found a growing group of women who are keen to learn how to play the game. From an initial squad of 7, there are now training sessions for 25 young women up to three times a week with sessions starting as early as 6am.The majority of these new players are aged between 18 and 20, however, El-kindiy says there is one “determined” squad member who is only 13.
She sees the potential and is confident of attracting players beyond Ukonga, from across Tanzania. Requests have been sent to men’s clubs around the country in the hope that they will continue to offer those women opportunities to play beyond the tournament. Beyond that, El-kindiy is also planning to roll out ‘A Try for Change’ in Tanzania and hopes to convince schools to offer girls an opportunity to play as part of their curriculums. (Women in Rugby 10/8/22)

Boston Marathon

Gabriel Geay (right) with Evans Chebet (the eventual winner) at the Boston Marathon – photo @gabrielgeraldgeay

Gabriel Geay, one of the country’s top marathon distance runners, crossed the finish line in a creditable second place at the 126th running of the Boston Marathon in the USA. He clocked a time of 2:06:04 just 10 seconds behind the Kenya winner Evans Chebet who defended his title. Geay was also ahead of Ugandan and twice Olympic Champion Eluid Kipchoge who surprisingly faded in sixth position. President Samia Suluhu Hassan was swift to congratulate the athlete as evidence of the improvement of athletics in the country based upon a history of world class long distance runners. (Daily News)

Football – AFCON Update
After beating their East African opponents by the same score a few days previously at Suez Canal Stadium in Ismailia, Egypt, the national men’s team Taifa Stars conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 to Uganda Cranes at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

The visitors scored a stoppage time winner to make the qualification race for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals even tighter. The result means that both Taifa Stars and Uganda are tied on 4 points in Group F with two matches remaining to play. The Stars welcome Niger early in June in a “must win” encounter for the home side.

This was only the first defeat for Stars Head Coach Adel Amrouche at the helm of the team, and the country still has a chance to qualify for the AFCON finals to be hosted by Ivory Coast. Algeria top the group and have already made it through to the finals in 2024. (Daily News)


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

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

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

Finding a brighter future for Tanzania’s child domestic workers

Mercy Esther – photo Marek Klosowicz/Kulczyk Foundation

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

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

African rats are being used to sniff out wildlife crime

Photo from APOPO’s HeroRATs facebook site

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

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

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


by Martin Walsh
Karim F. Hirji. Daraja Press and Zand Graphics Ltd., Toronto, 2022. 572 pp. (paperback). ISBN: 9781990263125. USD $45.00 (e-book ISBN: 9781990263217. USD $6.99).

Hirji cover

Karim Hirji is an outstanding mathematician and statistician. He is also a prolific writer about Tanzania.

He was born in Newala in southern Tanzania in 1949, came to Dar es Salaam to go to secondary school, and then studied maths and education at the University of Dar es Salaam – where, in his spare time, he edited the radical magazine Cheche. He then worked in Sumbawanga and Dar es Salaam, obtained Masters degrees at both LSE and Harvard, and enjoyed a successful academic career in the USA, which included identifying a number of false or misleading claims by drug companies. He returned to Dar as Professor of Medical Statistics at Muhimbili University.

He is also a medical miracle. All but a few centimetres of his intestine were removed in an operation in the US, and he survives on a diet of predigested foods and mineral supplements. At times he has been so weak that the only way he could write was by dictating to his wife Farida.
Yet since retiring he has written eight books. Three are the stories of different parts of his life, one is a collection of his writings on education, another is a guide for journalists on how they should use statistics. Another (reviewed in TA 118 in 2017) summarises the work of his mentor Walter Rodney, and especially his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Yet another is a novel about two girls who are very good at maths, one from a poor background, the other better off, who get involved with the Banana Liberation Front (!), and end up in Ukonga Prison where they gain the approval of the governor by teaching other prisoners maths.

His latest book, 468 pages of main text and many more of sources and references, is a presentation and explanation of religions in the world. There are substantial sections on the four religions with the greatest numbers of followers – Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, plus secularism and neoliberalism. He draws on his background as an Ismaili to write about Hinduism and Islam in Africa and other continents. The section on Christianity shows the heavy involvement of the Roman Catholic Church with the CIA and State Department in the USA and their disastrous interventions in Vietnam, Indonesia, Syria, Afghanistan and many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the close relationship that Trump and his supporters have with evangelical churches, especially Adventists. A section on liberation theology brings out the contribution of theology to leftist individuals such as Paulo Freire, Franz Fanon, and others. The sections on secularism and neoliberalism are, broadly, presented without comment.

The book is a form of political economy. Much of it is put together in blocks of text, making good use the internet – many of these can stand alone outside the main argument of the book, for example nearly twenty pages on the story of Indonesia, and a section on the life of Eleanor Marx.

It is a prodigious achievement to have written something so wide-ranging – a book for the general reader who is asking questions about the world and the way religious thinkers deal with them. It should be on every religious education teacher’s bookshelf and shared with anyone who is overconfident about a particular religion, or looking for a third world perspective. It should be held by libraries in universities which study comparative religion or world history. It is non-judgemental – recognising that there is good in all religions, especially in their early years, but also showing how power corrupts religions once they get into the hands of wealthy capitalists or governments.

There are limitations. An index would make it easier to use the book, and more on Judaism would have enlightened the sections of Islam and Christianity, and the discussion of the situation in Palestine. More credit might have been given to Pope Francis and his reforms of the Roman Catholic Church, and to other reformers in the Dominican and Jesuit orders. It was written before the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine and there is little on the climate emergency – these will no doubt be addressed in the promised second volume that will focus on science and scientists and their relations with religious ideas.

It is hard to improve on the following from the promotional material for the book:
“Its foundational premise is that while their spiritual beliefs differ, all humans are equal in dignity and have equal rights. No belief system is more exalted than the rest. There are no chosen people; there is no chosen religion. We all are a part of the global human family. Our religious and cultural diversity is a cause for celebration, not conflict.” If anything, it is more critical of most religions, but Hirji’s underlying sympathy for those who are searching for meaning in the world is not in doubt.
Andrew Coulson.
Andrew worked in the Planning Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture in Dar es Salaam 1967-1971 and taught agricultural economics at the University of Dar es Salaam 1972-76. His edited book African Socialism in Practice: The Tanzanian Experience was published in 1979. Tanzania: A Political Economy followed in 1982, with a second edition in 2013. His most recent book, with Antony Ellman and Emmanuel Mbiha, is Increasing Production from the Land: A Sourcebook on Agriculture for Teachers and Students in Africa (Muki na Nyota, 2018). He was Chair of the Britain Tanzania Society 2015-18.

Social Protection and Informal Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lived Realities and Associational Experiences from Kenya and Tanzania.
Lone Riisgaard, Winnie V. Mitullah, and Nina Torm (editors). Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2022. 274 pp. (e-book). ISBN: 9781003173694 (free to download from; print versions can also be purchased).

There has been little research into informal social protection mechanisms in Sub-Saharan Africa and not much is documented about their extent or form, nor, until now, has there been a systematic analysis of how informal workers access any type of social protection.

This book starts with a thorough literature review of how social protection is organised in informal economies, highlighting gaps in the literature, and then provides an overview of the methodology used by the authors of this book. The book continues with chapters written by different authors, exploring how informal workers in different sectors access formal and informal social protection (if at all), examining in detail what people “actually do on the ground” (p. 19). They have taken a comparative approach, examining two countries (Tanzania and Kenya) and three urban sectors prone to informality in those countries. There is a chapter each on transport, micro-trade and construction workers in Tanzania and in Kenya, each following a similar pattern of presenting the findings of the research, and the book finishes with two chapters comparing the sectors and countries and drawing together the threads of the study.

The authors have three specific research questions:
1. Do informal workers or associations offer any kind of informal social protection, what characterises the format of these services, who benefits from them and how do they compare to formal social protection measures?

2. What extent do formal social protection schemes cater for informal workers, and how do informal associations provide access to formal protection schemes?

3. How far are the viewpoints and realities of informal workers represented in institutions?

In both Tanzania and Kenya, the provision of any form of social protection by government or others, including international donors, has been fragmented and inadequate, hampered by the absence of a policy framework with clear institutional roles and responsibilities, and an overall plan. At the same time, there has been a lack of capacity and financial resources at government and civil society level to implement the necessary measures. There are also challenges which make it difficult to put into place a system of social protection for informal workers – workers must make contributions from their extremely limited income, and due to a lack of understanding and information, but also experiences of previous schemes and a suspicion that any subsequent initiative will turn out the same, many will not choose to take part in such schemes. The limitations of social protection for informal construction workers are summed up by a Kenyan contractor: “we pray to God so that a bad incident does not occur” (p. 216). Several of the papers analyse the reasons for poor uptake of various forms of social protection.

However, the authors find that in recent years there has been a move towards more coherent social protection, and this includes the extension of coverage to informal workers. Indeed, many see that social protection is a potential solution to issues of poverty.

There is much discussion about associations, including the relationship between membership of associations and access to more formal social protection. It is concluded that social dynamics among members make associations a much stronger means of social protection than programmes which come from government. Many of these associations are savings and credit societies, where trust around financial matters has been built up. In addition, associational power is able to advance the interests and conditions of informal workers. One association member in Dar es Salaam said: “We have one hope only, and that is our associations. That is why we call our group ‘Our Hope’” (p. 184). But the associations themselves may be weak, with poor leadership, and inadequate training, so many challenges remain.

The book provides a comprehensive study of the subject, with plenty of data from both countries, and the authors have clearly spoken to a wide range of informants. In my experiences with people working on the margins of the economy in Tanzania, those mostly without a voice, I have found people to be coherent in their analysis of their own situations and I was glad to find in several of the papers quite extensive quotes of the actual words of some of the interviewees, vividly explaining how difficult their situation is, or why the attempts of various bodies to increase social protection has failed. In presenting this information, this book has gone some way to giving these informal workers a voice.
Kate Forrester.
Kate lived in Tanzania for 15 years, working as a freelance consultant chiefly in social development, and carrying out research assignments throughout the country. She now lives in Dorchester, where she is active in community and environmental work.

Also noticed:
THE EASTAFRICA CAMPAIGN 1914-18: VON LETTOW-VORBECK’S MASTERPIECE. David Smith (illustrated by Graham Turner). Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2022. 96 pp. (paperback). ISBN: 9781472848918. £15.99 (e-book £12.79).

The publisher describes this book as a “beautifully illustrated study of the daring war in East Africa waged by German colonial forces under Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck against the wide array of colonial and expeditionary forces of the Allied Powers.” The blurb continues:

“The East African Campaign in World War I comprised a series of battles and guerrilla actions which began in German East Africa in 1914 and spread to portions of Portuguese Mozambique, northern Rhodesia, British East Africa, the Uganda Protectorate, and the Belgian Congo. German colonial forces under Lieutenant-Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck attempt to divert Allied forces from the Western Front. Despite the efforts of the Allied forces, Lettow­Vorbeck’s troops remained undefeated at the end of the war.

In this fascinating work, David Smith documents how a wide array of British, Indian, South African, Belgian, Portuguese and local native forces invaded German East Africa and slowly ousted the German forces, a process made tortuous by Lettow-Vorbeck’s masterful management of the campaign. Among the events covered in this work are the Battle of Tanga, the scuttling of the Königsberg, the German railway campaign, and the battles at Salaita Hill, Kondoa-Irangi, Mahenge, Mahiwa and Namacurra. Colourful period and specially commissioned illustrations bring to life a wide-ranging and eventful campaign in which a high price was extracted for every inch of ground given up.”

The period photographs are of course in black and white, but there is plenty of colour in the maps, plans and drawings provided by Graham Turner. While this is not presented as a work of academic scholarship, David Smith is an experienced military historian, and his well-informed account will be of interest to a wide audience, not least admirers of von Lettow-Vorbeck’s extraordinary guerrilla campaign.

IMPERIAL POWERS AND HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONS: THE ZANZIBAR SULTANATE, BRITAIN, AND FRANCE IN THE INDIAN OCEAN, 1862-1905. Raphaël Cheriau. Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2021. 270 pp. (e-book). ISBN: 9780429323232. £29.59 (also available in print formats).

This book will likely be of interest mainly to specialists in Indian Ocean and imperial history, and indeed Routledge have included it in their ‘Empires in Perspective’ series. Their short description (reproduced below) is short and not particularly illuminating. Readers wanting more information may like to consult the list of contents provided by the publisher, or seek out Edward Alpers’ review on the website of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (

“In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Zanzibar Sultanate became the focal point of European imperial and humanitarian policies, most notably Britain, France, and Germany. In fact, the Sultanate was one of the few places in the world where humanitarianism and imperialism met in the most obvious fashion. This crucial encounter was perfectly embodied by the iconic meeting of Dr. Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley in 1871. This book challenges the common presumption that those humanitarian concerns only served to conceal vile colonial interests. It brings the repression of the East African slave trade at sea and the expansion of empires into a new light in comparing French and British archives for the first time.”
Martin Walsh


by Ben Taylor

Liz and Ron Fennel, pictured in 2013

BTS Vice President and former BTS Chair, Ron Fennell, passed away peacefully on April 12th, attended by family. He and his wife, the late Liz Fennell MBE, had a great love for Tanzania and were stalwarts of the Society, including providing substantial support to the work of the Tanzania Development Trust.

Ron and Liz met in 1950 while both were studying geography at Cambridge University and they married in 1956. He worked in Sierra Leone for 12 years until 1966, when he joined the International Monetary Fund and moved to Washington, DC. He joined the World Bank three years later and the family lived first in Nigeria and then Tanzania, where Ron served as the World Bank’s Resident Representative for four years, before returning to the United States in 1987. They retired to the UK in 1995, settling in West London.
Thereafter, Ron and Liz were active members of BTS known in particular for their energetic support to the Society at events and to TDT where they would take long trips to Tanzania to assess and support projects, at their own cost and even to the most remote areas.

Writing in 2000 about his time in Tanzania, Ron wrote: “When I was sent to Dar as World Bank Resident Representative in January 1984, the Bank’s Senior Vice President made it clear to me that all Bank lending to Tanzania would stop after the approval of the Mtera Power Project in early 1984 unless the government entered into a more active dialogue with the World Bank on economic reform. Times were hard. People were suffering. The picking of tea in the Mufindi plantations fell behind because the women pickers were unable to get sugar to put in their own morning tea, which constituted their main source of energy in the fields. There was a severe shortage of basic consumer goods.”

It was an unpromising situation to be facing, and the negotiations between the government and the World Bank were at times highly strained. Tensions were also high between reformists and traditionalists within the government and ruling party – this was after all, the same period that saw President Julius Nyerere step down.

The World Bank’s insistence that policy change should come before Bank funds were released weighed heavily on Finance Minister Msuya. Nevertheless, agreement was reached, in the form of a Structural Adjustment Programme, which Nyerere accepted as necessary.

“There is no doubt that mistakes had been made by both sides,” wrote Ron. “The Bank itself went through major changes in its approach to development assistance over the period,” and Nyerere “was slow to recognise that parastatal inefficiencies were having such a detrimental impact on peasant farmers. … He refused to accept the need to devalue the shilling until donor consensus and the parlous state of the economy made it unavoidable.”

These reforms, and the Bank’s role, are still somewhat contentious in Tanzania. Researchers like Prof Ruth Meena have repeatedly said that World Bank/IMF-driven structural adjustment programmes undermined development in health and education. It was a difficult time for the population, as the government reduced spending on public services and introduced cost-sharing for schooling and health services, price controls were lifted and the shilling was devalued. And yet few would dispute that the state of the economy necessitated major changes.

Despite these challenges, Ron maintained good relations with his counterparts in the Tanzanian government, later commenting that the friendliness of the people, the stable political environment and a commitment to consensus building, made it possible to work through the difficulties. And his ongoing work in Tanzania after his retirement amply demonstrates the fondness he felt for the country.

Ron and Liz were both made MBEs in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for services to building relations between the UK and Tanzania. “We are thrilled,” said Ron at the time. “It is nice that we both got one because we have worked as a team for many years.”


by Ben Taylor

President Samia Suluhu Hassan speaking at the 53rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Significant progress has been made in recent months towards political reconciliation and the reestablishment of democratic freedoms in Tanzania. In addition to a renewed national conversation around Constitutional reform (see separate article in this edition), a number of meetings have been held between leaders of both the ruling party, CCM, and various opposition parties, and the President has taken steps to reverse a six-year ban on opposition parties holding public rallies. She described this as being part of her strategy of Reconciliation, Resilience, Reforms and Rebuilding the nation, dubbed 4Rs.

The ban on political party rallies was imposed by the late President John Magufuli in 2015 in his first address to Parliament in Dodoma, saying the country should instead focus on national development efforts. Under the policy, elected politicians were allowed to conduct rallies in their constituencies, but other political rallies or demonstrations were banned. It led to frequent confrontations between opposition leaders and the police and repeated arrests of opposition politicians.

On January 3, 2023, during a meeting with leaders from 19 registered political parties, President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced her decision that the ban should no longer apply. “Permission for political meetings will be granted. Our duty as the government is to protect them. Hold your meetings safely, but you have to adhere to the rules and regulations because it is your responsibility too,” she said.

The President recognised that such rallies were legal and acknowledged that political parties have the right to conduct them. She said that the responsibility now remained with the political parties to provide information to the police and other agencies as required by the laws and regulations governing such gatherings.

Opposition party leaders welcomed the announcement a little warily. Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe said that they had received the Pres ident’s decision with “great caution” because the right to hold political rallies was guaranteed by the Constitution, and its restoration had been delayed unnecessarily.

“We want to see the implementation of this from the ward to the national level. Democracy should be afforded to the people at all levels. This matter involves many people, including the police,” he said.

ACT-Wazalendo leader, Zitto Kabwe, said President Hassan’s decision would open a new page for democracy, and commended her for “a decision which was not easy to make”. He described 2023 as “the year of political reform, the year of democracy.”

Following the lifting of the ban, opposition parties moved quickly to announce plans for nationwide rallies. The CUF national chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, held a rally on January 7, 2023 and Chadema is set for their first rally on January 21, 2023.

Police Force spokesperson David Misime said the law enforcers are ready and well organised to manage gatherings that would be held by all political parties in the country. He explained their involvement in the provision of security will largely depend on prior information to hold a meeting as directed by the laws of the country.

“As the Police has promised major operational and disciplinary changes under the leadership of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Camillus Wambura, citizens should expect to see wisdom and prudence exercised in carrying out our duties without affecting the law, peace, stability and unity of our country,” he said.

A senior lecturer at the University of Iringa, Dr Cornelius Simba, commended President Hassan’s decision to lift the ban saying it was exactly what people wanted. He also expects politicians both from the opposition and those of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to behave sensibly and to be constructive in their criticisms. “When you disagree on a certain issue, then come with an alternative solution,” he recommended.

Prof Martha Qorro, a communication specialist from the University of Dar es Salaam, advised that politicians should consider their words carefully before speaking, as reckless language could be disastrous.

“We are building one society, one nation. Let our politics be decent. Let’s stand together on issues of national interest. I view political parties as institutions that build the country for its development, so no reason to quarrel,” she said.

Further, Constitutional and Legal Affairs Minister, Damas Ndumbaro, said the President had directed that various laws related to political issues be amended. “Fortunately, we have the Law Reforms Commission,” he said, “and I will meet with them on this. All the relevant laws will be worked upon. We have already started with the Political Parties Act,” he said.

Tundu Lissu to return
In a clear sign that opposition leaders have established some trust with the government of President Hassan, the exiled former presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu, has announced plans to return to Tanzania. Lissu, who was shot 16 times in an assassination attempt in 2017 in Dodoma, has spent most of the years since in Belgium.

Mr Lissu used his New Year greetings to inform Tanzanians that he would step on the soil of his country once again on January 25, 2023.

“This has been a long and very difficult period in my personal life and in our life as a party and as a nation,” he said.

The former Singida North MP, Tundu Lissu was evacuated to Kenya, after an assassination attempt in Dodoma in September 2017, and later taken from the Nairobi Hospital to Belgium for further treatment. He had been shot multiple times at his house as he was arriving from a parliamentary session. His assailants have never been apprehended.

In his speech, Mr Lissu noted that whatever happens, this year will be a very important year in the history of Tanzania. “It is a year in which, if we decide with the sincerity of our hearts, we will get a new and democratic constitution, with an independent election system, which cares and protects the rights of the people and which lays a solid foundation for the accountability of our leaders to the people and their representatives,” he said.

He said that President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her party (CCM) plus her government have already publicly promised that they are ready to start the long and difficult journey (to finding a new constitution).

“We are responsible for responding to the President by showing, and demonstrating in action, that we too are ready and prepared for that journey. I personally and our party are ready and prepared for that trip. So I am returning home for the trip,” he explained.

He emphasized that he is coming back for the great work that lies ahead, the work of the new constitution and a new beginning for the nation. “I am returning home to participate in writing the first new page of the ‘365-page book’ for this year 2023.”

“I believe that, with our unity and our love for our country, we will write a good book!”