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:

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

Speech by the Late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere


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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


45 years. A technically independent country for 45 years. A free country. Yet in those 45 years, we have been deficient in the main tenet of an independent, autonomous country; freedom of expression. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Our society is nothing but a primitive social structure, a euphemism for a puppet democracy without these human freedoms. These freedoms which we all as individuals have a human right to act upon. So in expressing my personal freedoms I introduce UJAMAA. The voice.

We as thoughtful, conscious individuals need a platform to express our honest views and feelings about government policy, social structure, public opinion, culture, the arts; a medium in which we can confidently state anything we desire to say, without fear of censorship. UJAMAA is a forum for activists, writers, and citizens who feel that honest expression should be intertwined with and an essential part of the media. UJAMAA hopes to initiate a wave of expression that will spread throughout the country, allowing everyone to be listened to, not just heard (often we’re not even granted this privilege).

UJAMAA is born out of the frustration of having to filter thoughts and views just because there we have an obtuse government. It is born out of the need to recreate the social fabric of Tanzania, born out of a desire for better. It is born out of peace, not out of hatred, it is born out of a need for evolution, not revolution, it is born out of the suffocation we all feel when we have been subjected to be irrelevant voices.

As a writer, I have always thought of it as my duty to ensure truth is a key element of my work. However, I believe truth cannot be fully explored and projected without the allowance of alternative opinion. Tanzanian media has suffered the burden of one-dimensional dictators for far too long, it is time for the whole truth to be told. Many may see this as reactionary, yet this is not so, the mere fact of the matter is that one persons truth is not necessarily another’s. UJAMAA hopes to facilitate this in whatever minute way it can.

The determined production of this first issue was sparked by the rejection of one my recent feature articles for the mainstream print-media giant in the country: The Guardian. The article was a feature piece about a connection of events that led me to draw some provocative conclusions. It was to be my fourth article for the paper (the said article is printed in this issue). The reasons I was given for this blatant suppression of free expression was that “When going through final screening, the editor of the paper felt that the article would be problematic for many high-ranking members of The Guardian staff, as many are staunch government supporters, and others feared backlash from government officials”- an editor of The Guardian who for the sake of safety will remain anonymous. This reason, although disgusting, did not surprise me, yet half-jokingly I asked “What about freedom of press” to be dealt with hysterical laughter and the sad answer of “This is Africa”.

We cannot allow our self-image to be tarnished and degraded in such a fashion, we must make it clear, that as Africans, we will not remain silent and suppressed. We will Speak.