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