Thursday, November 8, 2007

Switched Surgery

The Following is from The Citizen Newspaper that I thought you would be interested in knowing

Yesterday we published a hair-raising report detailing a horrendous mix-up in which Muhimbili doctors have performed wrong surgical operations on two patients. In the bizarre mix-up,a 21-year old patient who had been admitted with a swollen knee,took head surgery meant for a student who underwent a simple knee operation instead.

After the wrong surgery,the youth fell into a coma and is now fighting for his life in the intensive care unit. Latest reports indicate that an inquiry has been instituted to carry out investigations in an administrative move to try to establish how the doctors or nurses might have swapped the patients and had them face the knife for ailments they were not suffering from.

What is shocking is that the hospital administration is treating the incident as normal and some doctors would frown when somebody dare ask them about the two young men. Indeed,there are a good number of unreported cases where patients after being operated on,were thereafter to be found with cotton swabs or other foreign objects forgotten in their abdomens.

The recent mix-up at our leading hospital is an incident to be treated with the utmost urgency it deserves and whoever was involved should be held responsible. If their explanation is insufficient let them bear the full brunt of the law. We should not at any stage,or for unknown reasons,condone such inefficiency in our hospitals.

We make this appeal not because we doubt the integrity of the health facility's leadership,but as a wake-up call to the powers that be,to remind them that something nasty has occurred or some medical personnel,for reasons known to themselves,may tarnish the image of the lead health facility in the country.

No one should be prepared to witness such an ugly event happen in the full view of wananchi.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mine Strike

Once again it has been a long time since my last post and I apologize for that. It is an important event that is currently taking place in Tanzania that has brought me out of my hiatus. At the Barrick Bulyanhulu mine in Northern Tanzania, mine workers are on strike and have halted gold production. This is a defining moment for the future of Tanzanian civil society. Workers are striking for better conditions and health care benefits. Barrick is standing firm in their rejection and has said that striking workers will be terminated. This has not deterred many of the miners who are committed to their caused. I say this is a pivotal momentfor two reasons, the first being that any form of non-violent civil resistance is a plus for Tanzania who has for too long suffered passivity in the populace, secondly because this strike is only the tip of the iceberg for what is in store for the Barrick Gold Corporation. Barrick is facing problems in many of their other mines around the world; including Argentina and Papua New Guinea. The piece that I have said to be working on is also related to Barrick and their gross violations of human and environmental rights in Tanzania. I will still refrain from going into detail until I can fully corroborate my story, however I will say that Barrick may be responsible for numerous deaths in the Mara region, caused by environmental pollution. I will bring more on this as it develops. In the meantime, I urge you to support our fellow Tanzanians in their pursuit of justice and show solidarity to thei cause.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Slaa's Bombshell

Firstly let me once agaoin apologize to all my readers for the long delay between posts. Hopefully from this point on the frequency of posts will become more regular.

Getting straight into the story, on the 15th September, 2007 the Group-of-Four opposition in Tanzania released a public report highlighting the most corrupt officials in the country. This list was intended to show how the misuse of public funds is the reason why millions of Tanzanians today still live in abject poverty.

Obviously, one can put into question the real motives behind these political heavyweights, especially former Catholic Priest, Dr. Wilbrod Slaa (Secretary-General of CHADEMA)however, what is more important and relevant is the reaction to these claims.

On this list was The President, Mr. JK himself, as well as prominent lawyer Nimrod Mkono, and other high-ranking public officials. These claims are supposedly corroborated by from reports of the Government Controller & Auditor-General, and the Business Registration & Licensing Agency.

For the first few days after these allegations were made there was complete silence, and then suddenly, rather then remedying this negative attention, the government and its cronies exacerbated the problem through public mud-slinging and political expressions of brawn.

Minister of Good Governance in the President's office Phillip Marmo said that there were some leaders that had amassed wealth through dubious methods and a "list of malefactors will be submitted to the President soon". Yes another ominous list. It seems like our current phase government is always making lists- we must have a lot of dirty laundry to air out.

Mkono's reaction to the accusations was less subtle, and he made a public press conference refuting the claims and ridiculing the opposition. A note to mention, for a high-ranking, influentual lawayer he didn't speak to confidently or eloquently. Nerves I presume?

So, that is the break-down of Slaa's bombshell, and its immediate repurcussions. I would love to hear your views on the matter and what you think about the state of graft in the country. Feel free to leave a list.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kenyan MPs torpedo graft probes

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/6992737.stm



Kenyan MPs have passed a law which may make it impossible to prosecute corrupt politicians implicated in big scandals.

The law limits Kenya's Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate alleged crimes committed only after 2003.

Two notorious cases predate this - the Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing scams when huge sums were diverted from the Kenyan exchequer into officials' back pockets.

President Mwai Kibaki won polls in 2002 on an anti-graft platform he has yet to fulfil. He faces re-election this year.

Obseervers say the move may be timed to ensure no politicians face damaging legal proceedings ahead of the polls.

After a heated debate, opposition MPs surprised the government by winning a vote on the controversial amendment which deletes key sections of the 2003 Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

Justice Minister Martha Karua argued against the change, saying the sections were the core of the Act and their deletion would strip the KACC of powers essential to carrying out its remit.

Speaking in parliament she said: "Past economic crimes have not been successfully investigated and this amendment would give the KACC a deadly blow."

The head of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, Maina Kiai, has described the law as an affront to the people of Kenya.

"The politicians are spitting in our faces," he said.

Mrs Karua told parliament that the architect of the amendment, Paul Muite had an interest in sabotaging the KACC investigation.

"Hon Muite's interest is obvious and this amendment is mischievous", she said.

Back in 2003 when the KACC was set up, Mr Muite told Kenya's Daily Nation he was looking forward to "defending himself against allegations that he received 20 million Kenyan shillings" from a businessman implicated in the Goldenberg scandal.

The big scams

Under former President Daniel arap Moi's administration, the government devised a scheme to persuade exporters to repatriate hard currency earnings, promising a 20% premium on foreign currency deposited in Kenya's Central Bank.

It is alleged that a company called Goldenberg International colluded with government officials to make a claim for a 35% compensation for the export of minerals, in spite of Kenya having no diamond reserves and producing little gold of its own.

At least $80m was paid in export compensation, but some estimates suggest that Kenya's overall losses amounted to around $600m - the equivalent of more than 10% of the country's annual GDP.

Then under President Kibaki, officials sought to order a replacement for Kenya's passport printing system.

It involved buying sophisticated equipment - originally quoted at 6m euros ($8.3m) from Francois Charles Oberthur of Paris, a leading credit card supplier.

Without a proper competitive tender, the contract was instead awarded for five times the price to a company registered in the UK, the Anglo-Leasing and Finance Company Limited, whose plan was to sub-contract Oberthur to do the work.

It was subsequently revealed that Anglo Leasing's agent was a Liverpool-based firm, Saagar Associates.

The company records showed Saagar Associates was owned by Mrs Sudhan Ruparell, a daughter of Chamanlal Kamani, the 72-year-old multi-millionaire patriarch of a business family which enjoyed close links with senior officials in the Moi regime.

No graft convictions

The former head of the KACC, John Githongo, fled to the UK in 2005 after saying he had been threatened because of his investigations into corruption.

His successor, Aron Ringera. recommended that two former finance ministers, an ex-transport minister and a former security minister should be prosecuted, along with eight top civil servants.

Three senior ministers stood down following their implication in corruption in February 2006, but in January 2007 the Attorney General deemed there was not enough evidence against them to proceed with a prosecution.

So far, for all the investigations and charges, not a single businessman, official or politician has been brought to trial.

The international corruption watchdog, Transparency International, ranks Kenya among the 20 most corrupt countries in the world.

Kenya's MPs have already provoked a public outcry in recent days when they voted just last week to award themselves a $22,000 bonus each at the end of their five-year term in December.

The bill also legalised huge perks received by ministers.

Kenya's 222 MPs already earn more than $10,000 a month in salaries and expenses, much of which is tax-free, in a country where most people live on less than $1 a day.

Published: 2007/09/13 12:40:31 GMT

Friday, August 31, 2007

To all UJAMAA readers, very sorry for the long break I have been in the process of moving to Italy for a year, I will definitely be writing very soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Sound of Silence

I am sure much of you are aware of the recent Media Bill tabled to President Mwai Kibaki in Kenya.

For those of you who have not yet ‘heard’ about it, I will briefly outline it. The proposed bill requires journalists and reporters to reveal an anonymous source if a libel suit is initiated. The fear is, that the government will have free reign in the censure of ‘unflattering’ stories, thus, virtually eliminating the possibility of stories from whistle-blowers, which is how the majority of investigative pieces are obtained.

Mitch Odero, a member of the sub-committee of the Kenya Editors' Guild told Inter Press Services (IPS) that “n the event that the bill is signed, if a journalist is sued for libel he or she will be forced to name their sources, who will be arrested. Leaders will have it easy: they will bang journalists with civil suits, and there will be no defence for journalists”

Kenyan Journalists are horrified by the potential repercussions of this bill and are battling hard to stop it from being passed. In fact, Kenyan Journalists held an unprecedented ‘silent protest’ against the bill on Wednesday the 15th of August. Journalists marched to the office of the Attorney General with a petition urging the President not sign the bill. With their mouths gagged and taped, and brandishing placards they marched in the hundreds in solidarity against the oppressive media bill.

I feel compelled to give my personal view on this march. I believe it was a proud moment in Kenyan civil society. It is demonstrations like these that show the government that the people will not stand in passivity and watch their civil liberties crumble away, but that they will fight them until the end.

I think Tanzanian activists and journalists can learn a thing or two from this act of free expression, as we are ridiculed and our intelligence insulted on a daily basis.

Isn’t it time we speak out?

See pictures of the Kenyan Protest Below (Courtesy Al-Jazeera)







Monday, August 13, 2007

ladies AND gentlemen

As much good certain developmental organizations do, and as much awareness they raise through their policies and campaigns, one can’t help thinking, is it too much?
By analyzing and re-analyzing each and every issue that pertains to who we are as a society and people, by dissecting every anthropological element of our people, by developing new approaches to tackle poverty, are we really making any fundamental difference to Tanzania?

Personally, I am quite pro-awareness and pro-analysis, however today I am feeling unusually skeptical and can’t help think that this bombardment of jargon on our psyches is just another method of control. I specifically felt this after listening to some development worker talking about gender-based development. According to my interpretation this is supposed to mean equal representation of BOTH genders, and promotion of a bi-gender agenda, unfortunately it is just a euphemism for man-blasting and myopic feminism.

Don’t get me wrong, as a Man, I look at my gender everyday and am immediately aware of how we are a major part of the current socio-economic problems (ones which I won’t specify as I don’t think I am lucid enough to speak empirically), however that does not mean we should become ostracized and pariahs, and completely blacklisted from the solution. When I speak to these Gender-based development officials, and talk about how I would love to become more proactive in their causes, I am pretty much laughed at and told that I simply “don’t understand’.

Now I am fully aware that micro-credit is more effective in the hands of women, I am also fully aware that the major contributors to the spread of HIV is men, you don’t have to tell me that the alarmingly high number of teenage pregnancies(in Africa) and high-school drop outs due to poverty or work is because of men.

Still, I feel (brave or stupid?) that we can still be a part of the solution. I feel that the major equality movements of the 20th Century are being ignored and the whole concept of equality is being made a mockery of by this sanctioning of developmental organizations to advocate policies through a gender-centric mouthpiece.

Maybe, I am just being an ignorant man. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Sorry for the long break between posts. I am working on a big story that I am currently investigating. Its horrible and horrendous, however I won't reveal it until I can fully corroborate the allegations of the piece. When its posted, we will have to work to finding a solution.

On a more celebratory note, we at UJAMAA have just about made 1000 hits!! It isn't much , but it feels brilliant. I would like to thank all of you frequent visitors and contributors and I hope that together we will will create a positive future.

In recognition of this milestone I would like to start a small meme. I would like you all to submit the Greatest Africans of all Time. People who have either contributed to the greatness of the continent or indirectly influenced it. They don't necessarily have to stem from the continent, but also be members of the diaspora.

Just post a comment of your contribution and I will add it to the list on this post. The target is a list of 1000!

Try and post women as well. I am really interested in people's ideas of the Greatest African Women.

**After considering a comment made by wayne, this list will now comprise of the most influential Africans. If their influence was negative there will be (-) in front of their name. However, I would still like to urge you to contribute names of people who have been of positive influence.

1. Julius Kambarage Nyerere
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Dambudzo Marechera
4. Albertina Sisulu
5. Wangari Maathai
6. Chaka
7. Kwame Nkurumah
8. King Moshoeshoe
9. Lucky Dube
10. Alpha Blondy
11. Kofi Annan
12. Antjie Krog
13. Wole Soyinka
14. Steve Biko
15. Ngugi wa Thiongo
16. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
17. Freddie Mercury
18. Maria Mutola
19. Haile Selassie
20. Goapele
21.(-) Ian Smith
22.(-) King Leopold of Belgium
23.(-) Post independence Robert Mugabe
24.(-) Mobutu Sese Seko
25.(-) Idi Amin
26. Pre-independence Robert Mugabe
27. Salim A Salim
28. Shabaan Robert
29. Bi Kidude
30. Fela Kuti
31. Obafemi Awolowo

Monday, July 30, 2007

Journalistic Responsibility

For those of you who are familiar with the weekly news program aired on THE continent-wide pay channel (m-net) 'Carte Blanche', will also be aware that the show prides itself in its investigative stories and the breakthroughs they seem to make in fields of journalism. I myself find myself watching at every chance I get, and sometimes they really do have stories that intrigue me.

There program that aired on the 29th July 2007, was one of these shows, however for the wrong reasons. The show recounted some sad and horrendous abductions of 6 young girls by a pedophile in the early nineties. The girls or their bodies have not been recovered until this day. I am sure you will agree that must be devastating for the girls' families and friends. The show, purported some breakthrough in the recovery of the girls that they have been investigating for months, that they said they were going to reveal.

There breakthrough was a fraudster named Danie Krugel who claimed that he invented some new technology that allows him to trace people by only having a genetic sample like a strand of hair. He claims that with this sample, a process of quantum physics (vague isn't it) and GPS technology he can track the source of the genetic material. He said he was going to find the bodies or these young girls.

As the story went on, he pointed out a piece of land where he said the girls were buried. The girls were not uncovered. Carte Blanche then called in a psychic to help them out. Once again the bodies were not found. (click here for the full transcript of the story).

What my problem, (maybe due to my ignorance) is that a supposedly impartial investigative team would put up and actually support such a farce. I can understand doing a story on this guy, who claims to have the invention of the millennium yet refuses to publish his findings in any scientific journal (he should have one the Nobel Prize by now)or patent his work. But to actually work together with this man on a absurdly ridiculous crusade on such a sensitive issue, surely that is unethical isn't it?

I have come across a very interesting blog that delves much deeper into the topic. Click here to visit it.

I would really like to hear what you think about the story and the 'inventor' Danie Krugel. Let me know if you think my judgments are unfair or harsh.

This post deviates slightly from my usual topics, but I found this story very intriguing as well as infuriating and thought it was relevant to UJAMAA readers.

Any expression of freedom, activism, the Arts or anything you would like to say is welcome here. Speak.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where's the love?

I truly love Tanzania, really I do, even though my posts tend to paint a negative picture of the goings-on within the country. Through some recent discussions I have had, the same question keeps popping into my head, am I being to harsh? The whole purpose of UJAMAA and the evolution of our consciousness is to be an inclusive forum for activism and free expression. I in know way want to impose my views on people as gospel, I simply would like to state my views and engage discussion to develop solutions to these problems. I must admit however, that I am quite disillusioned with the political state in the country, continent and world. I feel activist mentality and civil society is non-existent in this country is virtually non-existent. Yet once again I am forced to ask, am I too negative?

A article in the Los Angeles Times that someone recently brought to my intention discusses how Western celebrities like Bono and Angelina Jolie like "to portray Africa as a basket case, but ignore very real progress". It examines what these people don't say about Africa. Click here to read the full article.

I am not, or would not like to be compared to a Western celebrity, however am I doing the same thing? Do you feel that I may be focusing too much on the problems we face then the greatness and beauty that are?

Please let me know your views and comments.

I won't pretend that my criticism about the goings-on in the continent will stop, but your thoughts may encourage me to diversify my focus a little bit.

Show some love.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A place we call home

There is a lot about Tanzania people do not understand. There is a lot that people choose to disregard. And even more devastating, there are a lot of people that are being disregarded in recent times. Whether it is the Begging Somali, the Grieving Burundian, The enterprising Kenyan or the shameless Muhindi, Tanzania has slowly but surely evolved into xenophobic society. If there is one aspect of our social development and growth that I could influence, I would choose this one; for it is my firm belief that a nation is built on humans and not nationals.

For the purpose of clarity, it is important to firstly define the term. What is the meaning behind the cryptic term of being a ‘national’ or a ‘citizen’? Where do these arbitrary labels and designations stem from, especially in a country and continent so rich in diversity as ours?

To take our contemporary model of society and our ‘nation-state’ into full perspective one must look back at how this model came into existence. In 1884, leaders of the Imperialist European powers called a conference; this conference was to epitomize the colonization and the ‘scramble for Africa’. At the 1884 Berlin Conference, the European powers sat in front of a blown up map of the African continent, and quite literally started dividing it up amongst themselves. The divisions and borders established in this forum were not based upon the natural boundaries which already existed in the continent, nor the rational categorization based upon tribal affiliations, but rather was based upon the individual powers these European countries had at this time. The continent was divided according to personal whims and declarations of authority on a sycophantic scale. The powers-that-be were basing their accruing of these large portions of African land under the fa├žade of being saviors for the savage natives that populate them. I do not wish to dwell to deep in to the historical interpretations of the act, this can be done on personal desire for further inquiry, I would just like to lay the context of how our current African countries came into existence.

Fast-forward 78 years and you will be at the height of Tanzania’s and much of the continent’s plight for independence. Led by the intelligent and progressive leader, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere we gained our independence and developed our personal trajectory for the future. Nyerere, took it upon himself to ensure that our country would not be thrown into chaotic disaccord due to the irrational borders established at the Berlin Conference of 1884. He tried to diffuse as much as possible the affiliation of the individual to his community and tribe and replaced it with affiliation to the nation and continent. Again I am not going to establish a detailed historical discourse, but rather set the tone of my primary point. Nyerere ensured that Tanzania wouldn’t suffer from tribal irritations by making all tribal leaders major parts of the national government, as well as by his Pan-Africanist policies and adopting Kiswahili as the national language of the country. In turn Tanzania has been safe from the violent tribal outbursts seen and still going on in many in fact most African countries.

Technically if one looks at the Ancestral origins of ‘Tanzanians’ you see a hodgepodge of different cultures, tribal backgrounds and heritage. Many of our leaders can in fact trace their lineage to Northern Mozambique, Zulu South Africa as well as landlocked countries Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. In essence the relevance of the populace’s ethnic origins is none and that is the view of which I wish to propose and establish in this piece.

Maintaining Nyerere’s strong Pan-Africanist views is essential to the long-term development of the nation. Historians, Politicians and those involved with public policy will all recognize the immense influence Nyerere’s approaches to the nation-state contribute to the abolition of the said state. He in essence believed that arbitrary borders and national divisions were a detriment to the overall development and well being of people, and took the view that to build on the common humanity shared between all would create a positive outlook for all. The clearest example of Nyerere’s views put into practice is the 1978 humanitarian intervention that he led in Uganda. Obviously there are critics and those who will choose to disregard the reality of the intervention, and I myself will in no way pretend that I have any scholarly qualification in the matter, however in my view and in the view of the collective majority, the reason behind the 1978 invasion into Uganda was solely to depose the despotic regime of Idi Amin Dada and his gross human rights violations in the country. Tanzania’s invasion into Uganda was not pre-emptive and was initiated only after Amin called for the mass exodus of all Ugandans of Asian descent and the Ugandan army breaching state lines and entering into Tanzania’s national territory. Regardless, Nyerere’s reasons for intervening in the Ugandan crisis were solely of a humanitarian motive and based on the ideal of helping your fellow man. Nyerere was also an advocate for African intervention in conflict zones such as Rwanda and Burundi, Sudan and other areas around the continent. This view is best illustrated in a statement Nyerere once made, this is not an exact quote but only what I can recall “How anyone can expel a certain group of people and say you are no longer part of this country baffles me. Tomorrow someone can say I must go because I don’t belong, and then you must go and eventually we will all go”.

So I believe it is quite safe to assume that at least part of the reason for the Ugandan invasion was humanitarian and to embrace and help our fellow humans. Nyerere was also instrumental in establishing the commissions for peace in Arusha; he also welcomed refugees from other African nations with open arms. Once again I do not intend to delve into specifics and engage a debate into the reasons behind his actions, rather I believe his action themselves are adequate enough to emphasize my overall point.

So with all this contextual information I have highlighted, what does this really have to do with my initial question of “what is a national?” Well everything in fact, our history is laden with persecution and oppression, but it is also filled with hope and love for our common humanity, no better expressed than through the actions of the Father of our Nation. Yet if one was to look at Tanzania today it would be very difficult to find traces of this fraternal bond with the continent and the globe as a whole, rather we are instead becoming more exclusive and un-accommodating. If you ask many Tanzanians today they will tell you, ‘The Kenyans must go (highlighted in Tanzania’s lack of education and opposition to the East African Federation), The refugees must go, The Congolese must go, The Somalis must go, The Indians must go, The Burundian must go, The Rwandese must go, The South Africans must go, The Ugandans must go, with all these people that must go, who in essence will be left?
We are a country built on the bonds of brotherhood; we are irrefutably a country of immense beauty and lovely people. Please, don’t ostracize and discriminate; please do not send Tanzanians away. Where will we go?

I believe it is possible and in fact essential for one to not limit where there national allegiances lie because of their race, religion, country of origin or even where they were born! A national is someone who has laid there heart on the land, and is willing to leave it there long after he or she leaves.

Fellow countrymen, fell continent-men, fellow humans I ask you, I plead for you to stop your xenophobic actions, for in the end, my land is our land.

To answer the initial question of what is a National, or what is a citizen I respond with the simple word: Us.

The enchanted dream, the true dream, the real dream is the collective dream.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Burqavaganza

When truth and conviction and having the stalwart character to stand up for it become sparse and almost non-existent in a country, I think there is due reason to be afraid. It is no longer even a case of fighting for the truth; that battle has been lost for now, but rather just practicing the truth, this is what is imperative to our evolution and sustainability.

It is a widely accepted fact that the media is ‘somewhat’ suppressed in Tanzania. It is rare that the government will allow public critical opinion to reign unregulated; and we all know the methods of ‘regulation’ that are the favorite of our myopic leaders. Blackmail, corruption, imprisonment and blacklisting to name a few. It has not been a common sight for me to see a well established daily publication, openly criticizing the government, or elucidating the public on some controversial matter, even when the said story is fully sourced and verifiable. Those stories just don’t go into print, they are not allowed to be told, according to public spokespeople, they are detrimental to the moral fabric of the country; they are insulting, unverifiable, unpatriotic, unnecessary and therefore untold.

The great political scandals that we have had just over the past year are enough to make minds swirl. The saviors of our power crisis, the ever so ‘commendable’ “Richmond Development Company” made sure they stifled all forms of public outrage against there heavily overpriced airplane engines that were supposedly going to power our nation. They stamped the large authoritative foot of wealth and power to make sure that no one would reveal that rather then being angelic saviors, they were ruthless crooks. There golden boot ensured that the numerous government officials and businesspeople that were ‘intimately’ involved with the company would be unnamed and untouched. One should also not forget the lack of journalistic thrust on issues concerning the BAE Radar deal and the city ‘clean-up’ project. Needless to mention; the recent allegations made against the Bank of Tanzania governor, the immense amount of dirty paws and corrupt businessmen that have infiltrated the public vaults for personal gain, or the slaughter of an innocent dala dala driver by the President’s best man.

The way the government has demonized Haki Elimu and the potent message they stand for is not only disgusting but cruel. The Minister of Education is easily able to vilify Haki Elimu for insulting government policy and supposedly misrepresenting facts, yet none of these same government officials feel the need to regulate certain mainstream tabloids that run rampant amongst the population.

There are a large number of monthly, weekly and daily publications that have a total distribution and readership in the millions that blatantly misrepresent facts, and inseminate hateful and destructive themes into the minds of millions. Papers like Risasi openly incriminate individuals without any basis; publicize guilt of many an innocent victim, while wholeheartedly and destructively playing with racial and ethnic devices to incite public hate of large groups of people for no reason at all. Yet the government still finds the need to censor an article on emergency services, or ban private watchdog groups, citing security and protection of rights as reasons while other print publications (some owned by government officials) openly vandalize the truth and use discriminatory language and images to drown the public in pools of ignorant, vile, putrid garbage, supposedly reported by sound-minded journalists whose only wish is to ‘tell the truth’.
Let alone the wrongful allegations and racist denotations of these ‘popular papers’, what is even more criminal are the ‘candid’ photos of scantily clad women and girls, taken with questionable consent that are plastered throughout the murky pages of these papers. Some pictures have been clearly taken after torturous coercion, yet these papers are still allowed to be printed unchecked while verifiable criticism is squashed. How many of the women on the pages of these trashy-zines were sexually violated? How many of the stories ‘exposed’ have caused irreparable damage to the victims’ lives? How many millions of children did Haki Elimu educate on their rights, yet who is suppressed?

Why we as a country even read the trash that these papers print is difficult for me to understand. Why we allow these undeniable falsities to penetrate our collective consciousness and become truth is beyond my comprehension. Why the government feels the need to silence their law-abiding critics yet let these blatant criminals miseducate our people is something I fail to even begin to grasp. Maybe they are following the ancient axiom that an ignorant populace is easy to control, and with one you just have to be able to mimic the sounds and mannerisms of someone who makes sense.

It is up to us to tell our leaders to change their double standard. To tell the government that we want freedom not ignorance, to tell them we want to be educated not have our intelligence insulted. I think many of our government officials are intelligent enough to understand this. It is my hope that with the collective will we can make the government happy to hear our voices and that with a boycott of the criminal papers that violate our human rights and spoil our plight for freedom we shall overcome.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Wild Life

The amazing diversity of the flora and fauna in Tanzania has been the object of mystical beauty for so many around the world. When one thinks of the beautiful array of wildlife in the country images of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and the numerous other National parks and game reserves come to mind. This immense biodiversity has also become a major selling point of the country. Tourist numbers are increasing annually with more and more focus being put on the wonders within the country.

The Minster of Tourism and Natural Resources has realized the immense selling point of this array of wildlife, and to promote the tourist attractions in the country he decided to showcase these treasures at the Annual Dar-es-salaam International Trade Fair, more commonly known as Saba Saba.

Oh, what an idea it was! With numerous species of animals caged up in the crowded and congested fair, in clearly adverse conditions, the “Zoo” area of the Trade Fair became a highlight of the sheer inanity of our government officials. Once again we have an example of how some of our leaders will simply disregard ethical and humane values in exchange for money. The animals were kept under inhumane conditions, which were clearly a violation of their rights, for the viewing pleasure of the thousands that visited the fair.

What I feel is the most disgraceful element of the whole exhibition, is the fact that the media, the visitors and the public at large seemed to have no problem at all! In fact, the animal exhibition was lauded for its uniqueness and supposed thrill. Unfortunately, I don’t think the captive creatures felt the same way.

Below are some clippings to illustrate the reality of the cruelty these animals have been victims of.





Monday, July 9, 2007

Who do you believe in?

Although Tanzania is officially a secular nation, religion still guides an enormous amount of political and governmental policy. Tanzania’s population has an approximately equal number of Christians versus Muslims, thus the religious motivation used by the government is not necessarily sectarian or partisan, but rather a motivation of a higher power; God. I believe this is the most detrimental factor in our country’s development. Religious respect usually involves the disregard and disrespect of human rights and choices. No matter what religious convictions the leadership of the country has, this does not give it the right to limit citizens’ freedom just to appease their God. My, and every other Tanzanian’s rights should come before those of the lord, after all, the President is the servant of the nation.

A huge debate in the country is on the issue of abortion. There are supporters of the legalization as well as opposers within the populous; however government officials seem to take only their personal views into account. I believe the government’s views are based largely on fear of controversy; therefore should we leave every controversial issue untouched?

Presently, Tanzanian standpoint on abortion is based on the English Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act of 1929. This states:

“Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is pregnant or not, unlawfully uses any means upon her is subject to 14 years’ imprisonment. A pregnant woman who undertakes the same act with respect to her own pregnancy or permits it to be undertaken is subject to seven years’ imprisonment. Any person who supplies anything whatsoever knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman is subject to three years’ imprisonment.”

As a developing nation, it is fascinating that the abortion law has not been ‘developed’ for close to 100 years. This is a clear indicator of how social issues are very often neglected by the government. There are some exceptions to this law however, the English case of 1938 (which Tanzania follows as common law) of Rex vs. Bourne set precedent when the physician in the Bourne ruling was “acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion on a woman who had been raped”. This ruling was made on the grounds that the abortion was done to preserve the woman’s mental and physical health. Thus Tanzania still abides by this rule today allowing abortion in cases of mental and physical health preservation and if the woman’s life is at risk. Contrary to this allowance however, Tanzanian law still does not grant abortions in cases of rape and incest unless there is a clinical prognosis, which is rarely given. Practitioners saying that to predict the likelihood of mental or physical illness if the child is born is subjective, thus unscientific. Once again, a law full of contradictions, purposely done I’m sure.

The Tanzanian government admits that there is a crisis in levels of fertility being too high. The government admits that population huge population increases are damaging to the country. The government admits that the mortality rate of ‘backyard’ abortions is out of control. The government still refuses to legalize abortion.

If the argument is from a religious point of view, I fail to understand how legalizing abortion conflicts with religious convictions. According to both Christianity and Islam (the two largest religions in the country), free will is the greatest gift god has endowed on humanity. Why is it then that religious practitioners try and limit this god-given freedom as much as they can? Being pro-choice satisfies both factions of the country, those who are for abortion and those who are against it. Pro-choice emphasizes on giving choice to the individual. If your personal convictions do not allow you to have an abortion then you have the choice to not have one, just as if you have no conflict with the act then you have the choice to have one. It is not a very complex concept to grasp, choice works in everybody’s favor, why are so many against it?

The biggest reasons why people oppose freedom of choice are: restriction is a method of control, and control is a method of power. I ask those who are pro-life where does your overwhelming love for man go when women are dying in the thousands by unsafe methods of abortion? Where does your love for man go when children are abandoned daily, when the streets are full of homeless youth begging for scraps, when HIV is being passed on to future generations (this is also due to the limited access to ARV’s)? Where does your love go when you turn away from the repercussions of your views?

I more than agree that focus should be put upon family planning and contraception, that sexual education should become a larger part of schools curricula, access to medicine should be a priority, that microfinance initiatives should be in the forefront of our economic development, however, abortion should be a safe and legal option for our women.

Much of the stigma that goes along with abortion has to do with misconceptions and prejudice. Some argue that legalized abortion leads to an increase in sexual promiscuity; this claim is entirely unfounded. Sexual promiscuity is a figment of our prejudicial, patriarchal society. The term for some reason mostly used in reference towards women and rarely men. Why? Is it because our women have been cursed with the responsibility to bear children? When did that choice to bear, become an obligation? If this is what many Tanzanians think, then it is education that is the problem, not abortion.

I believe that in the specific case of abortion that choice is the most important factor, choice to abort an unborn, non-living (life starts when you are born not before that) fetus should be granted. By doing that, the government is valuing life much more then it is by restricting this choice. After all it is the government’s obligation to protect its citizens and their lives; it is the government’s obligation to value life. In theory government does respect these obligations; the constitution of Tanzania states that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure its citizens and those within the confines of its borders are protected. However, as with abortion, and with various other government principles, this one to is racked with contradictions.

Tanzania is one of many countries that have still not abolished capital punishment. Although we have not exercised the death penalty as often as many, the fact remains that the law still exists. It perplexes that one of the most influential women in the world Ms. Asha-Rose Magiro, a Tanzanian minister just until last week, first statement as the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations was that capital punishment should be abolished in all UN member states, yet while being part of the Tanzanian leadership she never once publicly questioned the country’s death penalty policy. Maybe it was going to come but she was called away before it could happen, or maybe she is just jumping on the bandwagon of outrage after the high-profile execution of former Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein. Personally I hope the latter is false.

While the government still has the right to execute, it seems friends of the government also now have that right. I am talking about the infamous best man/murderer Ditopile Mzuzuri. It is nice to know that next time a dala dala driver cuts me off and I go into a bout of road rage I will be protected by the best and most powerful in the country if I decide that Mr. Dala Dala needs to be killed. Ditopile has been excused by many with the popular Swahili expression bahati mbaya!

So while the government adopts principles and policies and makes statements that completely contradict each other, and while citizens of this ‘peaceful’ nation sit back and watch in silence as injustices are being carried out in their names, and while God or the belief in him is destroying us, I say NO! Not in my name will you depreciate the value of truth and justice. Yet I know my no is powerless without yours. Speak up! Let them know that you know!

I urge you to break your vows of silence, knowing that many of you completely disagree with my point of view. Then make sure your point of view is listened to. I don’t want what I want; I want what the people want.

So I ask you to think about this, while our country of people is being ruled by person, and our president is strolling down the red carpet in London, who do you believe in? What do you believe in? Say it.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The New Mandela

DISCLAIMER: The following post was sparked by my frustration with the recent AU Summit. It is a rant of my disappointment. My personal views are pro African-Unity, however in light of the recent summit, I was feeling a bit cynical and wrote this. My hope is to spark some form of discussion on the issue.

I have great admiration for our Former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He laid the foundation for the relative peace we have in the country today. Nyerere was also, instrumental in advocating a united Africa. He and Nkrumah, and to an extent Toure were largely responsible for re-activating the Pan African Debate.

However, that said, Tanzania and Africa as a whole have moved a long way from the unity-filled thoughts of yesteryear. The East African Community (EAC) which is now being fast tracked as is not as grand in practice as it is in theory. Although the East African leaders are pushing to ensure that the community will be established, this is largely based on selfish motive. Kenya knows that they will be able to encroach on Tanzanian and Ugandan jobs as they have more skilled labor. The free trading bloc will benefit the countries which are either rich in resources or manufacturing ability. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the countries in East Africa which feel they are unable to compete will have to adapt and likewise fast-track their progress in terms of education and commercial production.

The difficulty arises when one examines the reality on the ground. The majority of the Tanzanian people do not have concrete information on what the EAC will entail, and those that do are skeptical about its potential for success and the possibility of failure. Just as the initial EAC fell to pieces when Kenyatta went on the opposite road; more traveled; then Nyerere i.e. capitalism vs socialism, a rift grew. This was the same time Idi Amin Dada came into power, and shortly after Tanzania decided to invade the country to depose the despotic leader.

So the reality behind African unity is much more complex for anyone to be able to hold a stance one way or another. Although it is ideally what Africa needs, it is not as easy to be put into practice. There is immense tribal difference in much of Africa, and where it is not conflict it is just a dislike, in fact, apart from Tanzania, I don't think there is any African country which has not suffered negatively from tribal tension.

The past in which Nyerere was hailed as a hero is also starting to fade. It is so painful and disappointing to hear my fellow countrymen saying that Nyerere is the cause of the problems they face today. It is unfortunate that these people are unable to grasp the political and cultural context in which Nyerere made his decisions, and how beneficial they actually were to the country. Nyerere was also humble enough to know that, when the political context changed, he had to step down and admit his failure and inability to persist with his current political ideology. The frequently quoted ‘failure’ of Ujamaa, was in fact brought about by external factors, the chief being: The Cold war (which Tanzania tried to stay out of), the oil crisis of the 70's, the crash in the price of coffee and sisal and the Uganda problem.

So as you can see, the ideal of a united Africa, or even in smaller terms a united East Africa is minimal, at least in the current continental framework.

The ideals of Nyerere, Nkrumah, and Toure, have been replaced with the mimicking of western pop culture. The African heroes of today are no longer our homegrown advocates for peace, but rather the violence-promoting figures of urban America.

50 cent is the new Mandela!!

Ironically, the only real prospect of having a united Africa is actually dependant on a complete cultural intrusion by the West and its proxy's. It has already started, and will persist until and unless we speak up. Once the African culture has been diluted and disbanded for the more hip western culture, we will have the perfect cultural milieu for a United Africa to persist. With single mind and single thought and no room for alternative ideas, a united Africa will flourish in the congruent stupidity of popular western invasive culture.

At the end of the three day AU summit recently held, the African leaders agreed to shelf the United African Government indefinitely.

Where do we go from here?

One Party State?

According to a poll recently conducted by the Research for Education and Democracy (Redet) in Dar-es-salaam, 41% of Tanzanians favor reverting back to a single party system. According to Dr Ndumbaro, the Researcher involved, the reason for these results is the lack of people in the country who have secondary or post-secondary education, as 90% of university graduates favored a multi-party system.

For personal clarification, I have decided to hold the same poll on this blog. I urge you all to vote, and feel free too make a comment relating to the issue.

Make your choice.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Suppressed Express

I love Tanzania. Tanzania is the country of my heart and soul. It may seem that much of what is represented about Tanzania is negative. I refute those claims, what is expressed on this blog, or at least what is tried to be expressed is reality. The state of political and corporate affairs in the country baffles me. The greed expressed by our leaders is heart-wrenching.

Daudi Balali, the current governal of the Central Bank of Tanzania (BOT) has recently been purported to have stolen up to half the country's annual budget in his term in office. He has not been alone however, according to the document circulating online that initially made these allegations, Balali is the head of a mafia like network of Busineespeople, Politicians, Lawyers and Foreign Investors. What is so unfortunate is if you ask any Tanzanian, if you delve into the inner workings of the BOT Governor, all the allegations made against him seem highly plausible.

My issue is not Balali, or the individuals who are currently under investigation for the misuse of public funds, my issue is that in the midst of all the unrelenting love I have for Tanzania, my fellow countrymen are looting the nation and the law-abiding, moral majority are suffering in silence.

It is for that reason, through my love I speak for the silent victims of the extortionate theft that occurs in government coffers.

On a recent train trip I took to the Selous Game Reserve, I came across real-life images of the devastation our people, our fellow humans endure. Not only is this abject poverty existent without public outcry, it is encouraged.

As I was on my way to Selous, the train made a short transit before the park, at this stop, my fellow passengers began taunting the many people hovering outside with scraps of food and drink. It was actually as if they were playing fetch with filthy, poverty-stricken mongrels. Throwing out morsels of food and taunting with drinks of enormous commercial image.


A throng of young children reaching a bottle of Coca-cola held out by one of the passengers


A huddle of people, mostly children scavenging for the thrown out scraps of food.

So on that note, I say, I love Tanzania, and we must speak for Tanzania, speak the truth.

Mungiki hit Kibera

Our brothers in Kenya are suffering from a barrage of inhumane violence allowed to exist because of the political forces within. The suppression of the media is in full force and it is only through citizens and brothers who feel the word of the horrid atrocities happening there must be revealed. The Mungiki have widened their reign of terror and Kibera has fallen victim to a murderous rampage. Please my brothers and sisters, inform yourselves about the situation, and do whatever is in your power to let the word get out and force the hungry politicians to forge the way to peace. For more detailed analysis on the situation and the Mungiki read the work of my fellow bloggers at kumekucha

Below is an example of the atrocities that have taken place at the hands of the Mungiki and the Government police

Khalil Senosi/Associated Press

One officer clubbed a woman in the throat as she clutched a baby, a reporter said. Many people were bleeding from head wounds.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Iraq Genocide

An interesting quote I came across by Dr Gideon Polya at countercurrents:

"After 4 years of illegal, violent Occupation the post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Iraq total ONE MILLION (UN Population Division and medical literature data). Taken together with 1.7 million excess deaths in the 1990-2003 Sanctions War (UN Population Division) and 3.7 million Iraqi refugees (UNHCR), this constitutes an Iraqi Genocide (as defined by the UN Genocide Convention) and an Iraqi Holocaust in comparison with the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million victims). The Iraqi under-5 infant deaths (1990-2007) now total 1.8 million, 90% having been avoidable and due to Western war crimes. Total Iraqi excess deaths (1990-2007) total 2.7 million. The post-invasion excess deaths in Occupied Afghanistan now total 2.2 million (see MWC News: 5 ). Three quarters of the people of Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan are Women and Children – the Bush War on Terror is in horrible reality a cowardly War on Women and Children, a War on Asian Women and Children and a War on Muslim Women and Children."

Rights Granted?-Update

I’d like to thank kifimbocheza for his words of encouragement and his updated information on the HakiElimu controversy. He has highlighted a press release that was issued on the 7, February, 2007. It outlines the agreements made after a meeting of HakiElimu and the Prime Minister of Tanzania Edward Lowassa.

The release can be viewed on the HakiElimu website, its URL being: http://hakielimu.org/press.pdf

I will not restate all that was mentioned in the document, however I will relate to some of the claims made in it. I advise all readers to take a look at the release.

In the list of agreements made, one of the few that stood out to me was point 3. I am particularly wary of the language used. As we all know that language can be a pervasive method of control and intimidation. I am not saying that this point is anything but genuine, however I do think that due to precedence, the prospect of it being carried out ethically and justly is less than favorable. The vagueness of the point that HakiElimu must use its ‘wisdom’ to make sure all work is ‘balanced’ raises questions of accountability. Who has the jurisdiction to decide whether HakiElimu is being biased or not? If the government then I highly doubt this will be a fair process. Which again relates to points 2 and 5 in the release.

Point 2 basically surmises that all published research must not only be authorized but endorsed by the “Chief Education Officer”. This once again raises my suspicion of whether this suppression and censorship is being played out.

I truly hope that my suspicions will prove to be unfounded and that free expression will prevail in Tanzanian civil society. Precedence has clouded my sense of optimism, yet I urge the government to prove me wrong. It will be the best for all.

Once again, thank you kifimbocheza for updating me on the current situation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Sky is Falling - Update

Firstly I would like to thank you all for your comments and support for stopping the construction of the airport in the Serengeti. On that note, to those of you who remember the one individual and organization that actually spoke out against the construction a Mr. Bigurube of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), the one staunch advocate for maintaining the biodiversity of the area has retracted his comments, and in fact denied ever having said them.

In a local daily, A representative of TANAPA made a statement supporting the infrastructure development taking place in the Mara region, saying that "it is a positive force toward socio-economic development in the area, and will benefit the population immensely". TANAPA went on to say that the recent reports made about the Director General speaking out against the construction of an International Airport in the park were false, and in fact the DG denied even knowing that plans to build an airport existed. Saying "As far as TANAPA knows, there is no airport being built in the park, and if there is we do not have any information pertaining to it".

I am sure you readers have realized that the line between truth and lies, standing for a cause or manipulating a cause is very thin. The advocate for conservation, was in fact propagating a corporate agenda that is subject to change. Whether the airport really is being built or not, I have yet to establish, however one thing for sure is that the hope I had in public institutions has faltered, and whether the sky will remain blue or not is irrelevant, for it is falling upon our one-dimensional heads.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kenyan Mungiki raids




The people over at KenyaOnly drew these provocative pictures to my attention. They are of the Mungiki Raids in Kenya. More pictures and information here .

Monday, June 11, 2007

Right to Write.

Haki Elimu, a locally-based NGO, who’s mission is to realize equity and promote democracy in educational institutions by influencing policy and establishing a public dialogue has been silenced. This NGO, which has been instrumental in the recent revelations of government officials embezzling large sums of money out of education programs, and has since its inception gained an increasingly higher reputation amongst educational activists globally, was ordered to suspend all activities until certain conditions were met, the foremost being an apology and a plea of guilt for “upsetting the government and public at large”. This comes after the organization’s long wave of criticism of negative government policy. According to the Tanzania Association of NGO’s (TANGO), “Haki Elimu has become the theme slogan for education rights in Tanzania.” They go on to say that because of Haki Elimu’s efforts, every Tanzanian child is conscious of their educational rights.

The Haki Elimu suspension, rather then increasing public support for the government has rather caused it to plummet, triggering and confirming many earlier notions that the current government is restrictive and has no intention in allowing freedom of expression to be practiced in the country. In the education minister, Margaret Sitta’s own words “the government was ready to take positive and constructive criticism, but observed that when it was apparent that the state would not take anymore of it, punitive measures against Haki Elimu became inevitable.” “No government on earth would keep silent when the freedom of expression was being abused. Haki Elimu was mocking great achievements recorded through people’s participation,’’ added the minister. The sheer absurdity of the government’s action is so apparent; it has caused quite a rift within the ruling CCM party itself. Mgana Msindai (East Iramba- CCM), questioned; ad infinitum, the legality and rationale behind suspending Haki Elimu activities. The representative for Kibaha also demanded to know how accurate Haki Elimu’s claims of corruption actually were.

It clearly evident that the government’s actions were unwarranted, unconstitutional and a violation of free expression acts. Unfortunately however, like every other governmental blunder/crime, the populace’s frustration is barely audible, and they simply endure with the anomalous, subversive whispers in the crowd. It is our duty and obligation to voice our discontent with current government behavior. Speak.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Freedom?

Freedom of the press. Courtesy JK

Goodbye Blue Skies.....

Just mentioning the Serengeti invokes images of natural beauty and untouched wilderness, yet once again the government and foreign investors have put money over everything and have announced the construction of an international airport in the national park. The American company; Grummet Reserves Ltd. funded by billionaire Paul Tudor Jones signed a memorandum of understanding with former Tanzanian Minister for Infrastructural Development Basil Mramba (now Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing) to construct a international airport in the reserve and a highway connecting the Arusha and Mara regions to the park, which will involve a main road cutting through the Serengeti plains.

In spite of protests by local and International non-governmental organizations, and public outcry, it seems that once again the people’s voices will fall on deaf government ears. The Director General of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) made a statement saying “that development of human activities in Serengeti would restrict the movement of animals to Maasai Mara in Kenya and reduce gene flow, thereby impacting negatively on their population and species.”

"To maintain biodiversity and ecosystem functions in both the short and long-term it is necessary to maintain habitat connectivity so that individual animals can move freely across the landscape," he said, adding that the international airport, the highway and other linear developments within the park would reduce and eliminate animal movements and habitat connectivity.

Mr Bigurube said the Serengeti ecosystem is facing the problems that much of the world has already experienced - habitat reduction and fragmentation at a variety of spatial scales that has been widely acknowledged as a primary cause of the decline of many species worldwide such as that in the Mikumi National Park in Morogoro region.

He said experts from Grumet Reserves had already made their feasibility studies for the two projects without involving Tanapa. The project is supposed to "lift Tanzania onto a new and much higher path of growth and job creation."

Foreign exploiters with money and hungry government officials sure have become good at bullshitting. It is surprising how even with independent research done; finding that the project is a bad idea the government can still allow the project to go through.

This is disgusting, and it is up to Tanzanians, Kenyans and anyone who believes in sustaining the few areas of the world that have been untouched by destructive human thumbs to speak out and condemn the project. I would call you all to protest and march to the state house, however a) Government wouldn’t let it happen and b) We are a passive people who can’t be bothered to go out of our ways and do something righteous. Instead I urge you all to post a comment, simply with your name, showing your view that the decision to construct an Airport is wrong and against public opinion. What we do with that list will then depend upon us.

Make the first step, speak out! Please also feel free to comment in the positive, if you feel the infrastructure project is justified.

NB: Some of the funding for the project is coming from the Millennium Challenges Fund.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Post

Post any comment or anything that you like. Just request posting rights and it will be done.

Speech by the Late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere

CAPE TOWN, 16 OCTOBER 1997

Madam Speaker and, I think I may say, Comrade President and Comrade Vice President, ladies and gentlemen. I have told you already how I felt when you asked me to come and talk here. And then I got the message that you were coming. Of course, I am happy you are here, but what do I say in your presence in this House? This is not my first time here. I have been here before and I have thanked you, but I must thank you again. For me to come here to this Chamber and address you is a dream which you have helped me to make true. How could any one of us have thought that it would be possible for me or people of my type to come to this country and speak from a forum like this? So, Mr. President, and all your colleagues, I say thank you very much for making this possible.

Now, as for sharing my thoughts with you: my thoughts, unfortunately, don't change, so a lot of what I am going to say some of you will have heard before, but some of you have not. I am going to say two things about Africa. One, that Africa south of the Sahara is an isolated region of the world. That's the first thing I want to say. The second thing I want to say is that Africa south of the Sahara is not what it is believed to be because Africa is now changing. So let me see if I can share those thoughts with you in a very short period.

Africa south of the Sahara is an isolated region of the world. During the last ten years, since my retirement as head of state of my country, I was asked, and I agreed, to establish something called the South Commission. That has meant a lot of travelling. I have been many times to Latin America, many times to Asia, many times to many parts of Africa before coming here, and many times to a large number of countries in Europe.

The world is changing. It is not only Africa which is changing. The world is changing. Of the three big power blocs developing in the world since the end of the Cold War, one -- the obvious one - is the United States. It has always been there. The United States is building around it a group of other countries. That is the obvious area of power. It is the one which is very clear. Another is Europe, which is also an obvious power bloc. The third is Japan and the areas of Asia around it.
The US has neighbours. One of them is Mexico, from the Third World. A President of Mexico is reported to have said once -- this is a president of the country -- "Poor Mexico! So far from God, and so near to the United States!" When he said that, what Mexicans were reaping were the disadvantages of being close to the United States. They were not getting any advantages at all from being so close to the United States.

The US is reach and there is a kind of osmosis- a political osmosis, but I think also an economic osmosis. The economy of the US pulls people from Mexico into the United States. The US has been trying very hard to stop these poor Mexicans from getting into the US, but without success. They spend a lot of money on the border, and have a lot of police there. I don't know whether they have electric fences and other things to try to prevent Mexicans going to the US, but they can't succeed. They have not succeeded. Mexicans keep pouring into the United States.
The United States had decided to change its policy. They have invited Mexico to join NAFTA, and now they are working together to create jobs in Mexico to prevent poor Mexicans from looking for jobs in the United States. I think they will succeed and Mexicans will now want to remain in Mexico. Some will still want to go to the United States, but the flood can be stemmed. There will not be a flood of Mexicans going to the United States.

What is happening between Mexico and the US is happening in Europe. Europe is a powerhouse -- not a political powerhouse or even a military power house like the US, but an economic powerhouse, and one of these days, I think, they are actually going to be a bigger powerhouse than USA. They are a power and are attracting people: again there is osmosis there, the economic osmosis. Who are pulled there? East Europeans are pulled towards Europe.
But the others who are pulled towards the economic power are from Mediterranean Africa, Africa north of the Sahara. That is why I was talking about Africa south of the Sahara being the isolated region in the world. So Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Africa are to Europe what Mexico is to the US.

Geography, the logic of geography, means that if you have problems of unemployment in Eastern Europe, East Europeans will want to move into Western Europe. The Germans know it, and others know it. They will try to keep them out. They will not try to keep them out by building fences or putting up another wall. They will try to help East Europeans to stay at home by creating jobs in Eastern Europe, and they are already doing that. They will do the same with regard to the Africans of North Africa.

So Europe has a policy with regard to the countries of North Africa -- not simply an economic policy, but actually a security policy. The French, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Spaniards -- those are the ones in particular who are frightened of a flood of unemployment from North Africa into Europe. And some, of course, are afraid not only of the unemployed. Some think they don't like the export of Islamic fundamentalism into Europe. But I think that's a minor problem. The real problem is unemployment, people moving into Europe from North Africa. Europe has a plan. They can't just sit there and watch this happening. European countries will have to work together to help the countries of North Africa to create jobs.

The other bloc is Japan. Japan is small, Japan is wealthy, Japan doesn't like other people going to Japan. They don't like that. But they are a big trading nation and they are pouring a lot of money into Asia, and I think they'll do it in China also. I don't think they'll be frightened of China. They'll put money in China.

So there are those three blocs of countries, three power blocs -- power developing in Asia, power developing in North America, power developing in Europe- and those countries which are geographically in the orbit of those areas. These rich areas are being forced to help the countries which are near them.

Africa south of the Sahara is different - completely different. It's not in the orbit of any of those big areas. If you people here are unemployed, very few of you will want to go to the US. The unemployed here will stay here. But so will unemployed in Tanzania. We'llnot go to the US. We'll not go Europe. Certainly we'd never dream of going to Japan or anywhere else. A trickle will go out -- the stowaways. But there is no answer to our unemployment in running away from where we are. And if you try it, it won't work.

So the USA is not frightened of unemployment in Africa south of the Sahara. It's your problem. It's not their problem. They will not do here or in Tanzania or in Nigeria, what they are doing about Mexico. No, it's not a problem for them, and it's not a problem for Europe either. Europe has a problem arising from Algeria, yes, or even from Egypt, from that part of the world. But from Africa south of the Sahara? No, they've no fear of a problem there. There is no flood of unemployed moving from this area going to Europe to seek jobs. So what would be the imperative from Europe? What pressure has Europe to deal with you people, unless you create some very attractive means of attracting a few business people?

And in Asia, the Japanese are afraid that if they don't share their wealth with some of the poor, these poor might come to Japan. Those poor are not the African poor from this part of the world. They are from Asia.

So that is the first thing I wanted to say about Africa south of the Sahara. You are isolated from the centres of power. There is no internal urge in the US, in Europe or in Japan to help Africa. None. And, I think, to some extent the urge of imperialism has gone. So you could easily be forgotten. Africa is of interest when we are killing one another. Then we arouse a lot of interest. The big news now in Europe and North America is not here. It's in Congo Brazzaville; Congo Brazzaville is now big news. The television screens are full of what is happening in Congo Brazzaville. That's news. And won't last for long. It might last until the end of this week, then it's out. And then, if Africa wants to appear on European television, we can cause more trouble somewhere, I think I've made that point.

Africa south of the Sahara is isolated. Africa south of the Sahara, in the world today, is on its own -- totally on its own. That's the first thing I wanted to say. The second thing I wanted to say is that Africa is changing. I've been to Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America, and Africa is a stereotype. The Africa which now arouses some interest is the Brazzaville Africa, that Rwanda Africa, that Somalia Africa, that Liberia Africa. That is the Africa which arouses interest, and I don't blame these people. That's the Africa that they know.

And so I go out. I come from Tanzania, and we don't have these blessed troubles that they have in other places, but I go out. Sometimes I get annoyed, but sometimes I don't get annoyed. Here I am a former president of my country. There are no problems in Tanzania -- we have never had these problems that they have -- but I'm an African. So when they see me they ask about the problems of Rwanda. I say, "I don't come from Rwanda." And they answer, "But you come from Africa" But if Blair were to come to Dar es Salaam, I wouldn't ask him what is happening in Bosnia. If I meet President Kohi somewhere. I don't ask him, "what is happening in Chechnya? Kohi could say, "Why are you asking about Chechnya? I don't know hat is happening in Chechnya."

But this is not true about Africa. Mr. President, here you are trying to build something which is a tremendous experience, but perhaps you are different. Sometimes they think South Africa is different, so perhaps they would say, "This is President Mandela, this is different." But for the likes of me, no, I am an African. And sometimes I get irritated, but then I say, "Why? Why do I get irritated?" Because, of course, I am a Tanzanian.

But what is this Tanzania? Why should these Europeans see me as a Tanzanian? What is this Tanzania? This is something we tried to create in my lifetime. I built Tanzania. So what is this Tanzania? The Europeans are right. The North Americans are right to look at me as an African, not as a Tanzanian, because Tanzania is a creation of colonialism, which is causing us a lot of trouble on the continent.

So, to some extent, Europeans are right when they choose to see us in this differentiated manner. The Tanzania here is a president of Tanzania. He struggled there for 23 years before he stepped down to try and turn those 125 tribes into some kind of nation, and he has succeeded to some extent. This is what I want them to think of. Why? They see me correctly as an African. So that is where I want to end. This is the other thing I really wanted to say.

Africa South of the Sahara is isolated, Africa south of the Sahara is changing. That stereotype of "There is trouble in Africa all the time" is nonsensical. There is trouble in Africa, there is trouble in Asia, there is trouble in Europe, there is trouble everywhere, and it would be amazing if after the suffering of the blessed continent for the last 100 years, we didn't have what we are having. Some of these nations we have are not nations at all. They make no sense at all, any geographical sense or ethnic sense or economic sense. They don't. The Europeans set somewhere and said, "you take that part, you take that part." They drew these lines on a map and here we are, trying to create nations which are almost impossible to create. But we are changing. The continent is changing.

My friend who was introducing me mentioned neocolonialism. I'm glad you still use the word "neocolonialism", because, you know. We went through a period when some of our people thought we were so advanced now to talk about neocolonialism. Uh-uh, no, no. It is almost communist to talk about neocolonialism. He is a communist? Well, I am not a communist, but I agree with you! We went through a neocolonial period in Africa. It nearly destroyed all the hopes of the struggle for the liberation of the continent, with a bunch of soldiers taking over power all over the continent, pushed, instigated and assisted by the people who talk about this stereotype of Africa.

We have just got rid of Mobutu, who put him there? I don't know what Lumumba would have been if he had been allowed to live. I don't know. He was an elected leader, but angered the powerful and they removed him within weeks. Then Mobutu came on the scene within weeks and he's been there since. He was the worst of the lot. He loots the country, he goes out, and he leaves that country with a debt of US$14 billion.

That money has done nothing for the people of Congo. So I sit down with friends of the World Bank and IMF. I say, "You know where that money is. Are you going to ask Kabila to tax the poor Congolese to pay that money? That would be a crime. It's criminal." And that was the type of leadership we had over a large part of Africa. They were leaders put there either by the French or by the Americans. When we had the Cold War, boy, I tell you, we couldn't breathe.
But Africa is changing. You can make a map of Africa and just look at the countries stretching from Eritrea to here. Just draw a line and see all those countries. You still have a Somalia and a Burundi there, but it's a very different kind of Africa now, it has elected governments, it has confident governments. Actually, most of those countries with the exception of Uganda, have never been under military rule. Never! And since your coming onto the scene, this is completely different kind of Africa.

When we were struggling here, South Africa still under apartheid, and you being a destabiliser of your neighbours instead of working together with them to develop our continent, of course that was a different thing. It was a terrible thing. Here was a powerful South Africa, and this power was a curse to us. It was not a blessing for us. We wished it away, because it was not a blessing at all. It destroyed Angola with a combination of apartheid; it was a menace to Mozambique and a menace to its neighbours, but that has changed. South Africa is democratic. South Africa is no longer trying to destroy the others. South Africa is now working with the others. And, boy please work with the others!

And don't accept this nonsense that South Africa is big brother. My brother, you can't be big brother. What is your per capita income? Your per capita income is about US$3,000 a year. Of course compared with Tanzania you are a giant. But you are poor. When you begin to use that money this is arithmetic, simple arithmetic and if you divide the wealth of this country for the population, of course everybody gets US$3, 000, but not everybody in this country is getting US$ 3,000. That would be a miracle. That is simply arithmetic.

So when you begin to use that wealth, Mr. President and I know you are trying to address the legacy of apartheid -- you have no money. You are still different from Tanzania, but you have no money. You are still more powerful. So Tanzania and the others to say that South Africa is big brother, and they must not throw their weight around, what kind of weight is that? And, in any case, this would be positive weight, not the negative weight of apartheid.

So this is a different Africa. I am saying that this Africa now is changing. Neocolonialism is being fought more effectively, I think, with a new leadership in Africa. And I believe the one region which can lead this fight is our region. With the end of apartheid and South Africa having joined SADC, this area of Africa is a very solid area. It is an extremely solid area. It is strong, it has serious leaders and these leaders know one another. I know that because where some of them have come from, They have a habit of working together, Mr. President, so let them work together. Deliberately. It should be a serious decision to work together. Why? You have no other choice. You have absolutely no other choice.

South Africa, because of its infrastructure, can attract more investment from Europe, from North America, than Tanzania can. Fine, go ahead. Do it, use your capacity to get as much investment as you can. That's good. But then don't be isolated from the rest of Africa. What you build here because of your infrastructure and the relative strength of your economy, you are building for all of us here.

The power that Germany has is European power, and the Europeans are moving together. The small and the big are working together. It is absurd for Africa to think that we, these little countries of Africa, can do it alone. Belgium has 10 million people. Africa south of the Sahara if you exclude South Africa has 470 million Africans, I sit down with the Prime Minister of Belgium, and he talks to me about European unity. I say, "You are small, your country is very small, so how can you talk of European unity with giants like Germany and the others? He says, "This question of the protection of our sovereignty we leave to the big powers. We lost our sovereignty ages ago."

These countries are old, their sovereignty is old. These Europeans fought wars. When we were studying history, it was the history of the wars of Europe. They fought and fought, and they called their wars World Wars. But now I can't imagine Europeans fighting. No, war in Europe is an endangered species. I think it's gone, certainly war between one country and another. The internal problems you will still have, the problem of the Balkans, but that is a reflection of something that is like Africa.

So I'm saying that Africa is changing because the leadership in Africa is changing. Africa is beginning to realise and we should all encourage Africa to get that realisation more and more that we have to depend upon our selves, both at national level and at the collective level. Each of our countries will have to rely upon its own human resources and natural material resources for its development. But that is not enough. The next area to look at is our collectivity, our working together. We all enhance our capacity to develop if we work together.

For God or Country?

Although Tanzania is officially a secular nation, religion still guides an enormous amount of political and governmental policy. Tanzania’s population has an approximately equal number of Christians versus Muslims, thus the religious motivation used by the government is not necessarily sectarian or partisan, but rather a motivation of a higher power; God. I believe this is the most detrimental factor in our country’s development. Religious respect usually involves the disregard and disrespect of human rights and choices. No matter what religious convictions the leadership of the country has, this does not give it the right to limit citizens’ freedom just to appease their God. My, and every other Tanzanian’s rights should come before those of the lord, after all, the President is the servant of the nation.

A huge debate in the country is on the issue of abortion. There are supporters of the legalization as well as opposers within the populous; however government officials seem to take only their personal views into account. I believe the government’s views are based largely on fear of controversy; therefore should we leave every controversial issue untouched?

Presently, Tanzanian standpoint on abortion is based on the English Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act of 1929. This states:

“Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is pregnant or not, unlawfully uses any means upon her is subject to 14 years’ imprisonment. A pregnant woman who undertakes the same act with respect to her own pregnancy or permits it to be undertaken is subject to seven years’ imprisonment. Any person who supplies anything whatsoever knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman is subject to three years’ imprisonment.”

As a developing nation, it is fascinating that the abortion law has not been ‘developed’ for close to 100 years. This is a clear indicator of how social issues are very often neglected by the government. There are some exceptions to this law however, the English case of 1938 (which Tanzania follows as common law) of Rex vs. Bourne set precedent when the physician in the Bourne ruling was “acquitted of the offence of performing an abortion on a woman who had been raped”. This ruling was made on the grounds that the abortion was done to preserve the woman’s mental and physical health. Thus Tanzania still abides by this rule today allowing abortion in cases of mental and physical health preservation and if the woman’s life is at risk. Contrary to this allowance however, Tanzanian law still does not grant abortions in cases of rape and incest unless there is a clinical prognosis, which is rarely given. Practitioners saying that to predict the likelihood of mental or physical illness if the child is born is subjective, thus unscientific. Once again, a law full of contradictions, purposely done I’m sure.

The Tanzanian government admits that there is a crisis in levels of fertility being too high. The government admits that population huge population increases are damaging to the country. The government admits that the mortality rate of ‘backyard’ abortions is out of control. The government still refuses to legalize abortion.

If the argument is from a religious point of view, I fail to understand how legalizing abortion conflicts with religious convictions. According to both Christianity and Islam (the two largest religions in the country), free will is the greatest gift god has endowed on humanity. Why is it then that religious practitioners try and limit this god-given freedom as much as they can? Being pro-choice satisfies both factions of the country, those who are for abortion and those who are against it. Pro-choice emphasizes on giving choice to the individual. If your personal convictions do not allow you to have an abortion then you have the choice to not have one, just as if you have no conflict with the act then you have the choice to have one. It is not a very complex concept to grasp, choice works in everybody’s favor, why are so many against it?

The biggest reasons why people oppose freedom of choice are: restriction is a method of control, and control is a method of power. I ask those who are pro-life where does your overwhelming love for man go when women are dying in the thousands by unsafe methods of abortion? Where does your love for man go when children are abandoned daily, when the streets are full of homeless youth begging for scraps, when HIV is being passed on to future generations (this is also due to the limited access to ARV’s)? Where does your love go when you turn away from the repercussions of your views?

I more than agree that focus should be put upon family planning and contraception, that sexual education should become a larger part of schools curricula, access to medicine should be a priority, that microfinance initiatives should be in the forefront of our economic development, however, abortion should be a safe and legal option for our women.

Much of the stigma that goes along with abortion has to do with misconceptions and prejudice. Some argue that legalized abortion leads to an increase in sexual promiscuity; this claim is entirely unfounded. Sexual promiscuity is a figment of our prejudicial, patriarchal society. The term for some reason mostly used in reference towards women and rarely men. Why? Is it because our women have been cursed with the responsibility to bear children? When did that choice to bear, become an obligation? If this is what many Tanzanians think, then it is education that is the problem, not abortion.

I believe that in the specific case of abortion that choice is the most important factor, choice to abort an unborn, non-living (life starts when you are born not before that) fetus should be granted. By doing that, the government is valuing life much more then it is by restricting this choice. After all it is the government’s obligation to protect its citizens and their lives; it is the government’s obligation to value life. In theory government does respect these obligations; the constitution of Tanzania states that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure its citizens and those within the confines of its borders are protected. However, as with abortion, and with various other government principles, this one to is racked with contradictions.

Tanzania is one of many countries that have still not abolished capital punishment. Although we have not exercised the death penalty as often as many, the fact remains that the law still exists. It perplexes that one of the most influential women in the world Ms. Asha-Rose Magiro, a Tanzanian minister just until last week, first statement as the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations was that capital punishment should be abolished in all UN member states, yet while being part of the Tanzanian leadership she never once publicly questioned the country’s death penalty policy. Maybe it was going to come but she was called away before it could happen, or maybe she is just jumping on the bandwagon of outrage after the high-profile execution of former Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein. Personally I hope the latter is false.

While the government still has the right to execute, it seems friends of the government also now have that right. I am talking about the infamous best man/murderer Ditopile Mzuzuri. It is nice to know that next time a dala dala driver cuts me off and I go into a bout of road rage I will be protected by the best and most powerful in the country if I decide that Mr. Dala Dala needs to be killed. Ditopile has been excused by many with the popular Swahili expression bahati mbaya!

So while the government adopts principles and policies and makes statements that completely contradict each other, and while citizens of this ‘peaceful’ nation sit back and watch in silence as injustices are being carried out in their names, and while God or the belief in him is destroying us, I say NO! Not in my name will you depreciate the value of truth and justice. Yet I know my no is powerless without yours. Speak up! Let them know that you know!

I urge you to break your vows of silence, knowing that many of you completely disagree with my point of view. Then make sure your point of view is listened to. I don’t want what I want; I want what the people want.

So I ask you to think about this, while our country of people is being ruled by person, and our president is strolling down the red carpet in London, who do you believe in? What do you believe in? Say it.