Friday, April 29, 2011

Deep Language Crossing Borders with Abdilatif Abdalla: Culture in Political Activism/Resistance

“Deep Language” Crossing Borders: Exploring the Use of Culture as Resource in Political Activism and Resistance in Africa and Elsewhere

Symposium in Honor of Abdilatif Abdalla

5-6 May 2011, Leipzig

In March 1969, at the age of 22, Abdilatif Abdalla from Mombasa became the first political prisoner of independent Kenya. He was sentenced to three years solitary confinement on the grounds of having written and distributed a pamphlet Kenya: Twendapi – ‘Kenya, where are we going?’ against the criminalization of opposition parties, to which he belonged. In 1972, a collection of poems which he had written in prison was published as Sauti ya Dhiki (Voice of Agony), for which in 1974 the “Kenyatta Literary Award” was bestowed upon him. Ever since his release in 1972, he has lived in exile as a journalist and political activist, connected to Kenya and the world by transnational networks through which he musters international solidarity and takes influence on politics in his home country. However, he has not published in paper any more poems of his, and only some of the poems of his prison ‘diary’ have been translated from Swahili. In his further political commitment as a journalist and activist, however, he continued to use English. In Kenya he is still well known and regarded as an important and controversial poet and political activist.

From the point of view that language use is inseparable from cultural practice, since it is in and through speaking that symbolic orders are taken recourse to, reinvented and reproduced, this marked split of cultural practice, to which change of linguistic code (Swahili/English) is but the most audible, it can be made explicit that while in his political commitment he used either ‘blunt’ Swahili or English accessible for a wider public, in the agonized situation in prison Abdilatif Abdalla resorted to his traditional education as a Swahili patrician with a language which is very difficult to understand, even for contemporary Swahilists. Using his cultural and social background of belonging to the patrician elite of urban Swahili culture, of being a mwungwana, he was able to counter the assault on his personal and political integrity during solitary confinement: The knowledge of poetry, and the ability to condense thoughts and topics by means of the rigid principles of Swahili poetry, leading to what also known as lugha ya ndani – ‘deep language’, is one of the cornerstones of being Swahili. According to him, he used such language to veil the messages, as he expected that neither his prison warders, leave alone the political functionaries of the time, up to Jomo Kenyatta himself, would be able to make clear sense of his poetry*.

On the other hand, the intensive localization of political activism apparent in Abdilatif Abdalla’s writings before and during his imprisonment is perhaps also owed to the situation of underground opposition, where risks must be minimized, in this case by using language and the accompanying cultural practices (embodied for example in poetry) only understood by those very close to the underground group. However, the moment political repression has become manifest, the only possibility to raise solidarity and support lies in the ability of the repressed to reach international attention: for this the knowledge of ‘Western’? – international? gobally known? – modes of expression is crucial. It is in this situation that Abdilatif Abdalla and Ngugi wa Thion’go (amongst others) make up a very successful team in the “Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya” (1982), later on “United Movement for Democracy in Kenya” (from 1987 onwards).

Of course, his is but one in the many examples of persecuted intellectuals, writers, or film makers. Ngugi wa Thiong’o was an acclaimed writer before he, too, turned to Gikuyu and community theatre as a means to reach those who were excluded from political participation. He thus played on the difference between English and the local languages as means of control and subversion. This raised the fear of the then ruling elites that those excluded might start ‘speaking’ beyond their control. Ngugi, as is well known, was incarcerated for his activities and exiled later on. But while Ngugi could draw on his already existing reputation as a political writer in English to muster international solidarity, Abdilatif has always remained less visible. Ken Saro Wiwa, activist, playwright and author of fiction, chose to write in English. However, he also played with language, questioning the ‘meanings’ of English in his satirical novel Sozaboy. Nuruddin Farah, on the other hand, wrote one of the first novels in Somali in the alphabet which was invented and standardized under the regime of Siad Barre, only to have it banned. In order to still have his say, he changed his literary activities to English, which promised a much larger readership and political influence – albeit rather beyond Somalia than within. Again another example is Phaswane Mpe, a Sepedi writer from South Africa, who could not publish his novel in Sepedi, because, as his editor pointed out, he would not find a readership for his criticism in this community, since Sepedi was a medium rather for harmless ‘traditional’ stories than political topics. He, too, settled for a publication in English under the title “Welcome to our Hillbrow” (2001). In South Africa, contrary to the other examples, the assumed threat inherent in literature in African Languages is defused by a banalization of their value.
These few examples raise a central question about translation issues:

What are the conditions under which cultural expressions, used as a means for resistance, can become accessible to an international community? What kinds of transformation processes are required to make local or localized symbolic orders accessible to a globalised public sphere in order to address the international community and thus gain support?

Inherent in these questions is the assumption that it is those who are in need of support who have to overcome linguistic and cultural boundaries. While this seems to be a truism and a ‘fact of life’, it is exacerbated by the colonial heritage of a dependent language bias where it is felt that because ‘Africa’ constitutes ‘the other’ of the ‘West, expressions in African languages are, in fact, in need of ‘translation’. What, then, does it take, that the ‘subaltern can speak’, and even if the ‘subaltern speaks’, how far is the international community prepared to listen? How do other activists with different backgrounds choose to moderate this balancing act between the local of expression and the global of solidarity?

The exploration of the potential political meaning of cultural practices, amongst others language use, requires a reflection on the ways how and under which historical conditions of manifold hegemonial and counter-hegemonial interests different symbolic orders can be effectively connected in order to transgress or subvert politically determined boundaries: Abdilatif Abdalla has chosen to remain invisible from an international public as a poet, but not as a political activist. While he is needed in Kenya, precisely this international visibility makes him more vulnerable but also closer to ‘his people’. Ngugi, on the other hand, has tried to join the two modes, crossing linguistic and cultural borders back and forth. Are these individual differences, or are these differences in cultural background which deeply influence the situation and choices made in political activism?

* “… I doubt if they [the prison guards] will be able to make out the meaning of the poems. Even if they will, I have 1001 alternative interpretations for each one of them.” (The Star, Wednesday, October 6, 2010).

Source: Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunst- und Orientwissenschaften, Institut für Afrikanistik, Universität Leipzig

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A TECHNICAL REPORT ON MIRACLE CURE PRESCRIBED BY REV. AMBILIKILE MWASUPILE [sic] IN SAMUNGE VILLAGE, LOLIONDO, ARUSHA is circulating online. The report bears the names of Hamisi M. Malebo Dip. Ed (Sc), B.Sc (Hons), M.Sc, PhD) & Zakaria H. Mbwambo M.Pharm, PhD as its authors. They are respectively based in the Department of Traditional Medicine at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and in the Institute of Traditional Medicine at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences(MUSCH). Its title has made me curious to read the content as it states clearly that it is a report written by our scientists on the take that science has to give about this MIRACLE cure that Tanzanians and beyond have been mesmerized by.

If I understood correctly, the report’s main objectives were to provide advice on the basis of their field and desk research on the safety and efficacy of Babu’s remedy; and if at all the ethno-medicinal claims regarding this remedy are true.

The authors suggest that the plant used in making Babu’s medicine-Engamryaki which is scientifically known as Carissa edulis is safe to use and the dosage used by Babu is below toxic levels. Furthermore, they infer that the plant has several properties that support the ethnomedicinal claims of the use of it in the management of diseases that Babu claims to treat. What surprises me is that all these conclusions they came up with are only based on the literature review of scientific data that's available regarding this plant; there isn’t a single finding that mentions what scientific experiments their group performed to back up their report despite the fact that they took specimens from Babu precisely for that reason!

I am not saying that their report is not useful; I am just wondering whether or not it would have been more convincing if we had some real scientific data from them to substantiate what others have done elsewhere. After all, scientific research at best of times is mostly about validating and adding on to what others have done.

Nonetheless, it’s a well written report and I trust that the literature review of the science behind the plant was done with a critical art of paper reviewing and not otherwise. I would,however, be eagerly waiting to read their future report on their own basic research conducted amongst other recommendations they gave.

* Mkunde Chachage is a Biomedical Researcher with interest in Immunology of Infectious disease-focusing on HIV coinfections

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Greetings! Salaam!

Dear Members, partners and supporters of the African Feminist Movement,

Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) and Feminist Activist Coalition (FemAct) are pleased to announce the 10th Gender Festival which will focus on Land, Labour and Livelihoods within the broad theme of Gender, Democracy and Development. The Festival will take place from the 13th – 16th September 2011.

Please find the documents for more information. Kiswahili versions to be available soon!
Wapendwa wanaharakati, wanamtandao na marafiki wote katika vuguvugu la kupigania haki za binadamu na usawa wa kijinsia na ukombozi wa wanawake kimapinduzi,

Mtandao wa Mashirika Watetezi wa Haki za Binadamu, Usawa wa Kijinsia na Ukombozi wa Wanawake Nchini Tanzania (FemAct) na Mtandao wa Jinsia Tanzania (TGNP) tunayo furaha kubwa kutangaza rasmi Tamasha la 10 la Jinsia ambalo kwa mwaka huu litahusu Ardhi, Nguvukazi & Maisha Endelevu ndani ya mada pana ya Jinsia, Demokrasia na Maisha Endelevu. Tamasha la Jinsia mwaka huu litafanyika kuanzia tarehe 13 hadi 16 Septemba 2011.

Naambatanisha nakala kwa ajili ya taarifa zaidi. Nakala za Kiswahili zitafuata!

Eluka Chelu Kibona
Gender Festival Coordinator/Mratibu wa Tamasha la Jinsia


Centre for Human Rights Promotion - CHRP
Cell phone no: +255 754 402033 Email:

PROSTATE CANCER: A Need for Support!

Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign: Literacy, Advocacy and Support Initiatives is a unit of the Centre for Human Rights Promotion – CHRP. The primary goal of the Campaign is to reduce the sufferings and deaths caused by prostate cancer.

PROSTATE CANCER: Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer found on male mammals only. The victims of this cancer are male who are about and over 50 years old. It causes the second highest number of deaths amongst men diagnosed with this cancer (lung cancer first). For general population, a man in his lifetime has about a 16% chance, “One man in 6”, of being diagnosed with prostate cancer; 3% chance (1 in 33) of dying from prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer kills one man every 13 minutes. Of all men diagnosed with any kind of cancer each year, twenty five percent have prostate cancer. “Prostate cancer has no social boundaries” says Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

TANZANIA SITUATION: The former Minister of Health and Social Welfare Prof. David Homeli Mwakyusa was quoted saying that, “only 10% of patients suffering from various types of cancer have been registering in the hospitals for medical check-up and treatment. The remaining 90% have not made any effort to attend medical check-up”. When it comes to prostate cancer, Prof. Mwakyusa said, “We don’t have statistics on prostate cancer. But from general observations it seems the disease is affecting many people” and that “prostate cancer causes many deaths in the country because of lack of sensitization to the sufferers”. (ThisDay Tuesday 7 April, 2009 p.6).

OUR TASK: Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign responds to the above observation by intensifying education and awareness on prostate cancer to the public. The campaign believes that if people get informed about the disease - its risk factors, warning signs, the benefits of screening, the outcome will be men turning to hospitals for yearly screening and for those detected early get treated – “Prostate Cancer is Curable With Early Detection”. We also do advocacy and support to improve treatment and care for prostate cancer victims.

A NEED FOR SUPPORT: As the work expands Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign needs all supports possible. Bellow we submit our needs for support on the following select areas:-

1.0 Production of awareness materials: This year, 2011 we have targeted to print 1,000,000 copies of mainly Swahili prostate cancer brochures. Since the genesis of Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign, brochures have proved to be useful tool to educate our people on prostate cancer and what in entails. One copy costs 20 Cents USD.

2.0 While brochures are our main request, we extend also an optional request to produce “Prostate Cancer” campaign paraphernalia which include posters, t-shirts and caps. 300 posters @ USD 1.5 per poster total USD 450; 300 t-shirts @ USD 6 per t-shirt total USD 1,800 and 300 Caps @ USD 2 total USD 600.

3.0 Emergency Relief fund: There is a need to have funds which can be used for treatment subsidies for prostate cancer victims. It costs about USD 600 to cover for surgery. In order to encourage friends, relatives and family members to make a contribution, emergency relief fund would at least make a USD 200 contribution. A USD 10,000 will go a long way.

4.0 Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign Building: We are planning to build a one story building to office and provide hospice services to recuperation prostate cancer survivors. The building will cost USD 150,000.

Contribution can be made by wire transfer:

Bank name: CRDB Azikiwe Branch Bank
Bank address: P. O. Box 268, Dar es Salaam, TANZANIA
Postal code: 255
Our account name: Centre for Human Rights Promotion – CHRP
Account number: 01 J 1027311100

Inform us of your contribution so that we can acknowledge and issue receipt respectively.

We invite you to join and support this life saving campaign. Together we can save lives. We belong together, we need each other. We are the world, we are the Children. Saving lives of Tanzanian men from prostate cancer is saving our own lives!

For more information on our campaign visit and search Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign.

Help for Prostate Cancer Patients in Tanzania

Dear readers,

I have been in regular email exchanges with Reverend Canon Emmuel Kandusi, a fellow prostate cancer patient with advanced disease, who has been the impetus for Prostate Cancer Awareness and Support in the African nation of Tanzania.

Recognizing that likely a majority of men in Tanzania are without financial means to pay for testing and/or treatment, please consider a donation within your means to the Tanzania 50 Plus Campaign.

Right now, the most often administered treatment to Tanzanian men diagnosed with prostate cancer is an orchiectomy to reduce testosterone from fueling the cancer growth. The reason: lack of income, lack of sufficient money for anything else. Even an orchiectomy in Tanzania costs 600,000 TZS which would be equal to $400.00 U.S. dollars. I know this archaic, but it is at least a method of trying to rein in Prostate Cancer in men with little means to afford anything more. When Reverend Canon Kandusi sought ketoconazole accompanied by hydrocortisone for his advancing cancer, the medical facility had no idea what he was talking about. This is the challenge to Reverend Canon Kandusi – to not only provide Prostate Cancer Awareness to his country, but to both educate the men and medical community of his country regarding Prostate Cancer as well as to help the men of his country with the expense of treatment. He would like to be able to offer even more, but without sufficient income through donations, there is little more he can do.

Please consider a donation, no matter how small. You could be the difference between life or death of many men in this African nation.

Please note:

One U.S. dollar or one Australian dollar is equivalent to approximately 1500 Tanzania shillings (TZS).

One Canadian dollar is equivalent to approximately 1562 TZS.

One British pound is equivalent to approximately 2450 TZS.

One Euro is equivalent to approximately 2168 TZS.

Just a few dollars, pounds, or Euros in donations can go a long way in helping Reverend Canon Kandusi and his campaign.

Charles (Chuck) Maack/Prostate Cancer Advocate/Mentor

Wichita, Kansas Chapter, Us TOO



Chapter Website "Observations":

Monday, April 25, 2011


As the "memory of Tahrir Square feeds opposition hopes and fuels government fears" across Africa Mahmood Mamdani addresses the protest "'Walk to Work' in Historical Light' at:

"Nowhere in the history of successful struggles will you find a people united in advance of the movement. For the simple reason that one of the achievements of a successful movement is unity. Unity is forged through struggle" - Mahmood Mamdani

Karim Hirji's Expanded Rejoinder to Annar Cassam's 'Citing Nyerere:Communists,Catholics and Cheche Comrades in Context'




Annar Cassam provided her version of the background and context for the quote of Mwalimu Nyerere's in relation to Cheche and communism. I aim to broaden that picture by first reflecting on the general role of religion in politics and society.

1. The right of any person to follow any religion or creed is a fundamental right to be respected. Nevertheless, the role of organized, institutionalized religion in society must be critically evaluated. While the former is a private matter, along the latter dimension, religion and politics have always been intertwined.

2. Religious movements and institutions have played a dual role in human history. At times, they have sided with human liberation and progress, while at other times they have protected the ruling elites, and promoted inequality and injustice.

3. Some examples: Early Christianity was associated with the struggles against the oppressive Roman empire but later the Church hierarchy was integrated with feudal forces oppressing the peasants across Europe. After the tenth century AD, emergent Protestantism was allied with anti-feudal societal tendencies and enlightenment.

Yet again, Christian churches played a key role in providing ideological justification for slavery and slave trade and colonial rule in Africa. Accordingly Europeans came here on a "civilizing Christian mission" -- masking the true motives of commerce, resources and inter-imperialist rivalry. Notwithstanding that, many indigenous Church based groups played a critical role in the struggle for independence. In Apartheid South Africa, one segment of the Christian church backed the system while another stood in opposition to it. In the USA of 1950s and 1960s, right wing church-based groups opposed the moves towards racial equality by claiming it was a communistic idea. On the other hand, Martin Luther King Jr. and black churches joined the fight against racism and discrimination.

That duality was manifested during the Cold War. As Cassam notes, it was strikingly evident in Latin America. Here, the papacy and upper hierarchy of the Catholic Church were firmly allied with brutal dictatorships. But the basic reason, in contrast to what she says, was not just the background of Pope John II. It was based on an alliance that predated his reign. The principal grievance of the peasants and native peoples was the highly unequal and unjust nature of land ownership, the decisive factor perpetuating intense poverty and misery. A few local landlords, foreign corporations, and Churches owned most of the best land. The Vatican was the largest land owner in Latin America. The Churches were fabulously wealthy. The peasants, tenants and workers lived miserably. The Vatican during the Cold War allied with the US imperialism; both used the bogey of communism to hide their true motive -- that of supporting the unjust global order that oppressed the people of Africa and the Third World.

Peasant and urban movements rose to confront these American and Vatican supported dictatorships. Ordinary priests allied with the masses under the ideology of liberation theology but were branded as communists. Many were tortured and murdered by US trained, funded and armed death squads by the hundreds.

4. In Tanzania as well, during Colonial times and the struggle for independence, church based groups played a dual role. In the days of the Arusha Declaration, as Cassam points out, the Vatican induced local churches to oppose socialism in any form, claiming that it would lead to communism. This was in conformity with its global role and not, as Cassam says, "unexpected."

When the Arusha Declaration was announced, there was a ground swell of support from the masses. The elites did not like it at all. The Catholic hierarchy distributed flyers and preached that it would lead to "god-less" communism. In Tanzania, however, no Church based or religious grouping actively or politically favored the Declaration. Many senior party functionaries and bureaucrats opposed socialism in reality though in public, they hypocritically recited Mwalimu's words and writings.

5. This was the context in which the University Students African Revolutionary Front (USARF) and its magazine, Cheche, were born at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in the late 1960. USARF was a legally registered pan-Africanist, militant student group, completely independent of the ruling party, yet firmly dedicated to socialism and African liberation. Prior to that, the UDSM student body was right-wing through and through. USARF undertook major educational efforts, in alliance with progressive lecturers (as recounted in the book Cheche) to organize public lectures, work in Ujamaa villages and nearby shambas, demonstrations, self education classes, university curriculum review etc. to turn around that situation. In so doing it laid the foundation for the emergence of the most progressive center of scholarship in Africa. Slowly but surely, support for socialism and commitment to the cause of African liberation began to rise among the student body at UDSM.

6. USARF and Cheche were independent, not under Party control. They were critical of the half-hearted, bungled and mis-guided manner in which the policy of socialism and self-reliance was implemented. They organized public debates, challenged cabinet ministers and party bosses, and pointed out the main deficiencies. Big party and state bosses thoroughly hated USARF. And so did the representatives of the Western powers.

USARF was not a stooge of any Eastern bloc nation. It did not get any funds from them. When the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, USARF organized a demonstration in front of the USSR Embassy in Dar es Salaam and issued a strong statement to condemn it. USARF maintained close relationships with all African Liberation movements, raised funds for them, visited the liberated areas of Mozambique, and had good relations with anti-imperialist movements across the world.

The detractors of USARF said it sought to form a communist party, promoted violence and a foreign ideology, Marxism. These were lies and half-truths. USARF and Cheche took Marxism very seriously because its was an essential aspect of the development of socialist thought, and held classes to study it because it was ignored by the university curriculum and TANU's political education classes. So what if it originated from else where? The English language we used in education was not indigenous; nor was catholicism which Mwalimu adhered to (and which, like it or not, influenced his political thought). The ruling party's ideological college (Kivukoni College) was modeled after Ruskin College of UK which espoused Fabian form of socialism and was staffed by people who followed that creed -- how indigenous was that? In terms of violence, Cheche supported the right of the people of Africa to conduct armed struggle for liberation as did Mwalimu Nyerere, as did Nelson Mandela and the ANC. The latter two were branded as terrorists! (It is the same story today -- when they attack Libya with bombs they are protecting civilians, it is only Ghaddafi who is practicing violence, and not the insurgents whom they arm. But in Egypt, they want the demonstrators to be peaceful and even a few stone throwing incidents will be highlighted as violent acts to be deplored).

7. Socialism seeks to use the wealth of the nation for the benefit of ordinary people, not foreign investors, local tycoons or powerful bureaucrats. A socialist government always will encounter a massive opposition from these latter forces to undermine it in every way. When Lumumba said that the wealth of Congo was for the benefit of the people of Congo, he became a target of imperialism. How many times the CIA has tried to murder or overthrow Castro and destabilize the Cuban society -- think about that. The hostility and fire towards Mwalimu was to be expected -- nothing surprising about that, and the reason will always be a strange one. (For example: as John Nichols noted recently and even though Obama has nothing in common with socialism and is quite pro-business "The Republican Party is currently firmer in its accusation that the Democrats are steering the nation “towards socialism” than it was during Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950s, when the senator from Wisconsin was accusing Harry Truman of harboring Communist Party cells in the government. Truman had stirred conservative outrage by arguing that the government had the authority to impose anti-lynching laws on the states and by proposing a national healthcare plan." In South Africa in the sixties, as noted above, Mandela was branded a terrorist and a communist, a label which the US government retained in its official record till recently.)

8. There are, in general two ways to follow in that situation of hostility from powerful forces. One is to empower the ordinary people, unite progressive forces and prepare for a long term struggle on the economic, political, diplomatic and progressive front. Another is to compromise on main principles to reassure the powerful forces and minimize their hostility.

Take note of the overthrow of Salvadore Allende in Chile when he sought to move his nation in a left-ward direction. The lesson of history had and has been that if you are serious about building socialism, be prepared to confront intense hostility and sabotage from the West and seriously prepare for that eventuality. Mwalimu Nyerere was well aware of that but he did not try to build a genuinely socialist party to confront that situation.

Unfortunately and in many ways, he elected the latter option. Staunchly socialist voices in the government (like Babu) and party (like Ngombale Mwiru) were sidelined. After nationalization of major firms, the management was handed over to Western companies (as detailed by Shivji in Cheche No. 3 -- The Silent Class Struggle), the World Bank went on to play a decisive role in economic planning (socialism designed by the World Bank is surely the biggest joke in the world); workers were suppressed by brute force when they upheld TANU's socialist guidelines, and so on.

When Mwalimu visited UDSM, USARF members called on him to establish structures to empower the grassroots and set up self-defense people's militias. He derided these as infantile moves. But later the militias were set up and used to herd peasants by force into so-called ill-conceived and unplanned ujamaa villages. Regional decentralization structures were established but as planned by an American management consulting firm and which became the basis for top-down control of the masses and not of giving power to the people. Independent moves and groups of peasants were quashed by the party. (There are many examples. A number of books including Cheche document them).

9. USARF, Cheche and later on, other progressive media exposed this vast gap between rehtoric and reality, and thereby drew the ire of the state. That was the primary reason underlying why they were banned or removed from the university. Yes, there were other reasons, but they were secondary.

10. Mwalimu thereby banned a consistent and dedicated voice for socialism in Tanzania. Progressive supporters of Tanzania were stunned; there was negative reaction in the media; almost the entire student body at UDSM (including the detractors of Cheche) was unhappy. African liberation movements wondered why a group firmly supporting them, espousing Pan-Africanism and socialism (be it of a Marxist variety or not) was banned. The state and the party back tracked a bit but the damage was done. Read the details of this history and its aftermath in the book Cheche.

11. Though progressive students and staff re-grouped and continued the struggle, the party functionaries now running the university administration slowly but surely got rid of progressive lecturers (local and expatriate) till a just few voices remained. What was once a stellar source of serious socialist scholarship eventually became an academic morass that was neither a fine traditional academic institution nor an innovative arena of learning of the left-wing variety. What we got was the worst of both worlds. (There were other reasons for that outcome as well but the gross interference into the academy like that exercised towards USARF and Cheche set the stage for that trend).


Annar Cassam says her aim was to give "background and context." But she only gives a small part of this context, which, moreover, is highly biased. Using the evasive term "altercation" without noting that it climaxed in the banning of a progressive student group and magazine is to mislead the audience. To leave out important aspects of the context is equivalent to decontextualizing the event and Mwalimu's quote.

She says that the move by the President "I believe had nothing to do with the "radical content" [of Cheche] which nobody took to be the gospel truth by the way, beyond the Hill ... but with juvenile intellectual arrogance and serious lack of knowledge about what was going on in the country." With these dismissive and derogatory words, she goes beyond giving the context to passes a strong judgment on the radical students, and thereby tries to justify the moves against them.

She says the students gave "their local magazine the same name as the Marxist publication in Moscow" but fails to mention that Kwame Nkrumah also had a magazine by that name and which was another reason why the students used the name Cheche. Whatever the case, in this day and age, to justify the silencing of progressive or other student voice and magazine by the state authorities because they use a politically embarrassing name sounds distinctively ridiculous.

She says the students "were asked to change it [the name ] and they refused ... hence the altercation with the President ... " This, I can personally attest, is not true. My fellow editor of Cheche, Henry Mapolu, and I had two meetings with Annar Cassam in those days. She came as a representative of Mwalimu (she was one of his assistants). We were asked to cool our rhetoric, that is true; but we refused to compromise. It was not the question of a name -- that was just an excuse used later on. USARF and Cheche spoke truth to power, they were too independent and that could not be tolerated.

She says "I do not mention any group and I did not ban anything!" and she says these things were not relevant! What is this background that leaves out the key aspects of the tale? Yes, she did not ban anything and, indeed, could not have done so. Only her boss had the power to do so. And he did ban. She served him well then and apparently continues to do so blindly by presenting a partial version of history. Sadly, she turns these serious issues into matters of petty mud-slinging by such statements.


While we have to respect Mwalimu Nyerere for many tremendous achievements on the national and international arena, we must be faithful to historical truth and remember accurately what transpired in the days of the Arusha Declaration. Only then can the youth learn from the achievements and mistakes of the past and propel Africa towards genuine liberation and progress.

Do not take my or Annar Cassam words as "gospel truth" or anything like it. Read the many books written about those days; form discussion groups; analyze the current local and global situation in depth and form your own visions and strategies. For learning about the era of the Arusha Declaration, I suggest you start with Andrew Coulson's Political Economy of Tanzania, go on to Henry Mapolu's book Workers and Management in Tanzania, then to Monica von Freyhold's Ujamaa Villages in Tanzania, and Shivji's The State and the Working People in Tanzania, and the latest work, Cheche. And of course, read the Arusha Declaration, Education for Self-reliance and Mwalimu's writings. And there are many more, including those dealing with the global history, the theory and practice of socialism, and the current situation.

The issue of religion should not divide people and progressive forces. Respect all forms of religious and other beliefs but recognize the social role played by some institutional religious forces for their narrow ends, and educate the people about that. For example, today the imperialists like to identify Islam with terrorism and many buy into that bogus rhetoric. Religious groups, like any group in society, have the full right to express and disseminate their political views. Their critics also have the same right. But the rights and expressions of ordinary people and social institutions is not the same as the use of state, financial and imperial power to disseminate, by local and international media, the propaganda serving the interests of the rich, powerful and imperialism. The latter has to be exposed and people have to be educated about its nature and content. Particularly, we have a lot to learn from how Mwalimu Nyerere strove to diffuse religious tensions and promote social harmony.

The main lesson of the Cheche episode is to firmly respect the rights of all viewpoints, however unpopular or unpalatable, to express themselves, and to expand the avenues and ability for ordinary people to express their right of free speech widely, effectively and in a timely manner without undue hindrance.

Read, learn and struggle. Do not look for donor funds to do that. Be self-reliant and dare to sacrifice to serve the masses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This is indeed a 'Brain Gain'!

Visit the Home Page at:

Check out these 'food for thought' upcoming events at:

Read Prof. Mamdani's Keynote Lecture on 'The Importance of Research in a University' at:

"The lesson I draw from my experience was that the old model does not work . We have no choice but to train postgraduate students in the very institutions in which they will have to work. We have no choice but to train the next generation of African scholars at home. This means tackling the question of institutional reform alongside that of postgraduate education. Postgraduate education, research and institution building will have to be part of a single effort" - Mahmood Mamdani


Monday, April 18, 2011


Sunday, April 17, 2011


What started as a request for previous issues of Cheche Magazine in our Wanazuoni Network has opened a 'memory box' - in a response to an email from its then editor, Karim Hirji, accessible at, one member of Wanazuoni posted this quote:

"Tunafahamu vizuri zaidi maana ya taratibu ya kijamii kuliko maaskofu; tunajua maana madhubuti ya kuzuia ukomunisti. Na naamini, ukomunisti kamwe hautakuja Tanzania ikiwa juhudi zetu zitafanikiwa. Hivi karibuni niliingilia kati kuzuia kikundi cha wanafunzi waliotaka kuanzisha "Cheche", kama ilivyokuwa kule Urusi" - Fr. Robert Rweyemamu, "Report of Conversation with President Nyerere" August 3, 1970. Archdiocese Archives, Tabora.

Interestingly, the co-editor of Africa's Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere has provided this background:


Thanks for this quote from Julius Kambarage Nyerere (JKN) made in 1970 to Father Robert Rweyemamu regarding Mwalimu's problem with "Cheche" (the title of the then student magazine at the University of Dar es Salaam-UDSM ).The word is the Kiswahili translation of "the Spark" which was the title of a political magazine published in the then Soviet Union at that time..."kama ilivyokuwa kule Urusi" JKN says. The background to this affair was as follows:

1. In 1970, Tanzania (TZ) under JKN was under fire from all sorts of places for allegedely becoming communist. The Arusha Declaration,the close ties with China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, the support for the liberation movements, some of which were avowedly Marxist(MPLA, FRELIMO),the nationalisation of the banks, etc etc , all provided ready excuse - for those who wanted them - to declare that TZ was going 'commie'. One of the happiest in this camp was of course the then Kaburu South Africa which used its anti-communist credentials to gain support from the West in this Cold War which the NATO powers were only too willing to give.

2. This type of hostility, coming as it did from the usual suspects, did not surprise JKN who dealt with it by never losing the initiative and never losing sight of his objectives. The one unexpected source of hostility turned out to be the Roman Catholic(RC) hierarchy inside TZ...and this is why the archival material from the Tabora Archdiocese is so important. The RC churches, all over the country, started distributing unsigned tracts, written in local languages, claiming that TZ was going communist; these tracts were often distributed to churchgoers after the services.

3. The RC hierarchy was clearly obeying instructions from the Vatican for reasons which need explaining here. Vatican was not pro-communism although Pople Paul VI, who died in 1978, tried to establish dialogues with various communist countries. Pope John Paul II,from Poland, who followed afterwards in the wake of the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in the same year, was a fervent Anti-communist and Euro-centric. His entire world view was coloured by the history of his own country and its subjugation by Russia. To him, anyone to the left of the Holy Roman Emperor was a commie or a Marxist- Leninist and hence dangerous. As my friend Father Bernard Joinet, the RC ex-Chaplain of the then Muhimbili Medical School used to say, "this Pope is Stalinist in his intransigence"(Those nuns and priests who suffered this attitude in Latin America will tell you what they went through for daring to practice Liberation Theology among the poor. It is no exaggeration to say that this Pope put back the cause of Latin American liberation by several decades).

4. To return to TZ and to JKN who was a devout Roman Catholic, in belief and in practice. He accepted in toto the centrality of Christ's gospel AND the claimed institutional supremacy of the Pope as Christ's Representative on earth. But he also and equally devotedly believed that religious belief was a private matter which had nothing to do with politics AND that politics had nothing to do with one's religious belief. And the political tracts coming out at RC churches disturbed him greatly. So he decided to talk to the RC system.

5. In mid-1970, he called a meeting in Arusha of all religious leaders of all faiths in TZ: RC, Protestant of all kinds, Muslim of all sects, Hindu, Buddhists etc. and told them, in Kiswahili, a few things they should not forget. That TZ was a secular state, that no religion had a special place, neither in TANU nor in Government and that the Arusha Declaration was not dogma but policy. To the RC leadership, however, he had a special message: that the RC priests, like the Protestant and Muslim leaders, should live among the people they purported to serve and not in their ivory towers of separate comfort as they tended to do. TZ was a country of peasants and its religious leaders would be wrong to think they were superior to the majority just because they were in the service of God.

6. And he finally gave them this warning:The Arusha Declaration has only three categories of citizens who have the right to live on the sweat of others: the young, the old and the infirm and there is no intention of adding a fourth category...for priests.

7. So this was the background and the climate in which the students at the Hill decided for reasons best known to themselves to give their local magazine the same name as the Marxist publication in Moscow. They were asked to change it and they refused...hence the altercation with the President...which I believe had nothing to do with the "radical content" which nobody took to be the gospel truth by the way,beyond the Hill... but with juvenile intellectual arrogance and serious lack of knowledge about what was going on in the country.

Finally, for those interested, I strongly recommend a reading of that Arusha speech which I hope is in the Tabora archives and should be with the JKN papers at the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation. Needless to say, the Arusha meeting diffused the situation and the RC and the Vatican hierarchy got the message. I have tried to give the wider picture as I saw it unfold.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Ndugu Edward Moringe Sokoine (01/08/1938-12/04/1984) alikuwa Waziri Mkuu wa aina yake nchini Tanzania. Aliongoza katika kipindi ambacho nchi ilikuwa katika hali ngumu sana ya kiuchumi. Leo ni miaka 27 toka Taifa limpoteze shujaa huyu. Katika kuenzi fikra zake ambazo bado zinahitajika sana leo, Udadisi inakuletea nukuu zifuatazo kama ilivyozipata kutoka kwenye Kitabu cha Edward Moringe Sokoine: Kiongozi wa Watu Aliyejitolea kilichoandikwa na Luteni Kanali Albert N. Kigadye mnamo mwaka 1984:

"Ole wake kiongozi mzembe na asiye na nidhamu nitakayemkuta: Kiongozi wa siasa hana usalama wa aina yoyote. Usalama wake ni kudra ya Mungu na Wananchi peke yake. Viongozi wazembe na wabadhirifu wahesabu siku zao. Labda tusiwajue. Hawa hatuna sababu ya kuwapa imani, kuwa tutawalinda kama vitendo vyao viovu" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 26 Machi 1983

"Juu ya suala hili la mapato kutolingana na matumizi ni kwamba tungependa kupunguza uongezaji wa wataalam wasiohitajika katika Serikali na katika mashirika ya umma mpaka hapo hali yetu ya uchumi itakapokuwa katika hali nzuri" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 23 Oktoba 1982

"Serikali inasimamia bei, lakini Serikali yetu itakwenda mpaka itasimamia bei ya mhogo, dagaa na bei ya kila kitu? Haiwezekani, vitu vingine ni lazima vizalishwe kwa wingi ili bei yenyewe iweze kujirekebisha" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 24 Septemba 1983

"Wajibu wa kila Mtanzania, kila familia na kila anayekula ni kujilisha mwenyewe. Si wajibu wa Taifa kumlisha mtu. Unaweza ukasaidiwa unapopatikana na janga. Lakini kama hakuna janga ni wajibu wa kila mtu aweze kujitosheleza kwa chakula na atoe ziada kwa Taifa" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 4 Oktoba 1983

"Vijana leo wengi wana mali zaidi kuliko wazee waliofanya kazi miaka thelathini hadi arobaini. Lakini wanaitaka Serikali ndiyo iwaulize mali hiyo wameipata wapi. Hivi kwa nini mzazi asimuulize mwanae, 'mali hii umeipata wapi?'" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 23 Oktoba 1983

"Katika nchi inayojali haki na usawa, majeshi hayana budi yawe ni chombo cha kulinda haki na maslahi ya walio wengi. Na kamwe hayaruhusiwi kuwa ni chombo cha wachache wenye kujali nafsi zao na kusahau maslahi ya walio wengi" - Edward Moringe Sokoine, 1Februari 1977

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Welcome to 3rd Nyerere Intellectual Festival Week!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


If you want land just ‘go to Africa’. It ‘has plenty’. In essence that is how it all begun – the myth.

This is the myth that there is lot of land up for grabs. Strange enough it still persists years after being used to justify colonial conquest. Now it is used to legitimate investment land acquisitions.

But how plenty is this land? In the case of Tanzania we are told we have more than 44 million hectares that are potential for agriculture. To buttress the myth we are also told that we barely cultivate 11 million hectares. We are thus lambasted for not utilizing nearly 75 percent of land.

Yet we are not really told that 44 million hectares divided by 44 million people is equals to what.

Recent killings in Madale village in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam have ironically brought this myth to the fore. In what should not be regarded as an isolated case, two people were killed after villagers clashed with a group of ‘bouncers’ who were hired to demolish their houses said to be built on a piece of land owned by what land rights activists would regard as an absentee landlord.

Why such a conflict in a country with plenty of land? That seems to be central question in debates that continue to rage on in social media platforms. In an otherwise well researched article, Angel Navuri props it up and, probably unwittingly, thus perpetuates the myth of plenty.

She thus states categorically: “Arable land in Tanzania is plentiful” (The Guardian 09/04/11). In an ironic twist she uses Kiteto District as a case in point. The irony lies in the fact that land is also central to pastoralism that defines a number of dwellers in that district. Probably due to the ‘Agriculture First’ (Kilimo Kwanza) mantra she succumbs to the same anti-pastoralist discourse. To her credit though she ends up providing the following quote from the District Land Officer which demystifies the myth of plenty: “Kiteto is experiencing apprehension because of influx of land speculators who are acquiring huge chunks of land and keep it idle” (Ibid.) If there is such plenty of land why then do villagers, pastoralists in particular, are apprehensive of land grabbers?

She also offers this Malthusian demystification: “The availability of land for agriculture is not uniform in Tanzania. This is usually dictated by the population pressure. Some areas are sparsely populated, for example in Rukwa, Tabora and Kigoma regions, whereas in other regions like Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Mbeya and Kagera, the population per square kilometer is relatively dense”. Yet this does not sufficiently explain why even in other areas land is not that accessible.

All this brings us back to the question of the state’s landlordism. By vesting so much power in the presidency as far as land control is concerned, Tanzanians do not have plenty of land. We are talking of a country that has been setting aside more than a quarter of its land through these reserved land variants: National Parks, Game Reserves and Wildlife Management Areas. Important as they are, the state expands them even at the expense of our own land and livelihood.

We are also talking about a country that is consolidating its ‘land bank’ through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) primarily for the sake of foreign investors. TIC’s official website which is not that regularly updated estimates the bank to be holding about 2.5 million hectares. Moreover, this is a state that even displaces its citizens for the sake of foreign mining companies.

Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI/HAKIARDHI) has recently published a book entitled ‘Accumulation by Land Dispossession and Labour Devaluation in Tanzania: The Case of Biofuel and Forest Investments in Kilwa and Kilolo.’ It shows that over 14 thousands hectares were shrewdly acquired, by a British investor, from 12 villages of Kilolo District in Iringa Region. This is only a tip of an iceberg as land alienation continues unabated countrywide.

Whilst land conflicts are simmering, from Kiteto to Kilosa and from Tegeta to Tarime, why are we still blindly wallowing in such a colonial and neo-colonial myth of plenty of land? And even if it is plenty is it plentiful according to and for whom? After all plenty is a very relative notion.

As it has been invoked in ‘Why Land matters to Africans regardless of Agriculture’, nothing can really compensate us for the loss of our land. That reality should be our focus. Not just any myth.

If there is one last strong demystifying argument against the myth of plenty of land in our country then it is contained in this question: Why do large-scale investors in Hanang, Mbarali and elsewhere sublet local small-scale farmers? The answer is obvious: Our land is not so plenty!

© Chambi Chachage

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Re-membering Rwanda: Is The Past Present?

The first ever post on Udadisi was about a trip to Rwanda entitled Safarini Kigali. It was soon followed by posts entitled Lest We Forget and Kigali: Tidy City/Jiji Safi respectively. Another interesting post on Rwanda therein is entitled Kagame on Ujamaa, Imidugudu and Stubborness. They all indicate that Rwanda indeed means a lot to Udadisi as it does to Africa and the world at large. It is in this regard that Udadisi is re-posting the messages below from Wanazuoni as we mark the 17th commemoration of what happened 'Sometime in April'.

Rwanda: The Past and the Present

Alex Manonga

Today Rwandans will mark the 17th commemoration of the genocide that took lives of more than 800,000 Tutsi in 1994. The incidence of April 1994 is said to be one of the worst scenarios that distorted Africa’s image in the eyes of the world. It did not only paint dark the face of Africa, but also created a new identity for the continent. The world could only be able to see Africa in the images of Rwanda, as barbaric, violent and the land of undetermined human beings. Everything worst in Rwanda, for the West, it seemed worst for Africa.

For those of us who have had an opportunity to come to Rwanda, visit mass graves in memorial sites like Gisozi (Kigali) and Murambi (Southern Province) have seen the dark past through which this continent has passed. By seeing bodies of human beings, you can imagine the screaming, cries for help without hope, of innocent people who were mashed with machetes; and whose hands and legs were chopped off and left to bleed to death. Some of those who were buried in mass graves were buried alive because killers had no time to kill one by one or finish those wounded, as they were in a hurry of going to other places to perform the killings on the same day.

Today, as the country marks the 17th year after the genocide, there is no doubt that Rwanda is a completely changed face of Africa. Her people have sent echoes to all corners of the world, with a clear message, that imaginary walls which divide people such as tribalism, religious intolerance, nationalism, racism etc can be torn down, and that there is no challenge so powerful for the people who decide to stand as one.

In an attempt to build a united and reconciled society, the government puts aside 5% of the National budget annually to support the survivors, to enable them build houses, access social services such as education, health etc. Through the unity and reconciliation program, Rwandans have now moved from conflicts and confusion to prosperity and development.

As Churchill once warned, we should not open the conflict between the past and the present as we may come to find that we have lost the future; but we have to use the past and the present to seek for a better tomorrow. What happened in Rwanda may happen anywhere. We do not need to go through the same experience to understand the worst consequences of divisive politics. The cost is extremely high and unaffordable.

Peace means everything in life.

Rejoinder on 'Rwanda: The Past and the Present'

David Sando

This is very good news. I join many in the world to remember the tragedy that happened in Rwanda. No doubt Rwanda has made so much progress since then and is now regarded as one of the examples for African countries on the economical growth scale (GDP).

However, all through I have attended several meetings of Rwandese especially when their leaders visited places I have been and would meet with their people, it is crystal clear that not much have been done in removing the source of the then genocide, rather it is through power and Militia maintaining the current state of harmony. Almost all of these the meetings are full of the same song regarding the so persistent growing separation between the two ethnic groups, and it feels bad when you even interview some of the today generation (Rwandese youth), most hold resentment to each other and it's like a time bomb, and perhaps because the world may not tolerate such catastrophe again, then it is just the repulsion expanding.

This is just my thought that the roots of the genocide are not effectively dealt with yet, however, I stand to be corrected.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Genetically Modfied Organisms (GMOs) Battle has Only Begun in Tanzania as Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa's (AGRA) Kofi Annan Visits

Click the link below with preliminary reactions to Annan:

Babu's 500 Shillings Charge - A Top Secret Code?

Back in the days I was so obsessed with conspiracy theories. I analyzed almost everything that came my way from the mystic one-eyed pyramid in a one USA dollar bill to the mysterious 666. It's a long time since I read systematically about Freemasons and their original link to ancient Egypt or the Illuminati and their umbilical ties to ancient Rome let alone other mystifying religious fraternities such as the Jesuits and the Opus Dei. The last time I was a bit that excited was when I read the controversial Da Vinci Code's critique of secret societies. It is with this background I curiously read, today, the following link sent by my new twitter friend with an eye of a conspiracy theorist attempting to make sense of why Babu of Loliondo is only charging Tsh 500 for a medicinal cup that allegedly cures five chronic diseases if not more. Note the parallels when you encounter the phrases/terms "a grove of trees", "a dream", "his gentle", "temples of healing", "spend a night", and "panacea", that term which has entered the English lexicon to mean a remedy for everything or, as we say in Kiswahili, 'Mwarobaini wa kutibu magonjwa yote'.

"That stick with the snake curled around it is the staff (the rod) of Aesculapius (also called Asklepios), the ancient god of medicine. His Greek name was Asklepios and his Roman name Aesculapius. In reality, Asklepios may have been a real person who was renowned for his gentle, humane remedies and his humane treatment of the mentally ill. His followers established temples called asclepions, temples of Asklepios, temples of healing. The greatest asklepion was in a grove of trees south of Corinth, Greece where the sick had to spend a night while the proper remedies were revealed during a dream to the priests of the temple and the cured had to make a suitable sacrifice (usually a rooster) to the god. According to mythology, Asculapius had a number of children including Hygieia, the goddess of health (from whose name comes the word ""hygiene"") and Panaceia, the godess of healing (from whose name comes the word ""panacea"" for a universal remedy).Today, the staff of Aesculapius is a commonly used symbol of medicine. It is the symbol of the American Medical Association (AMA) and many other medical societies" -

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuchimbe au Tuokote tu Magadi Ziwani Natron?

Katika safari yangu ya Loliondo kwa Babu nilibahatika kupata kipande kikubwa cha magadi. Kipande hicho kilikuwa kinauzwa kwa Shilingi 500 kando kando ya Ziwa Natron na wenyeji wa maeneo hayo. Katika basi letu watu wengi tu walinunua vipande hivyo kwa ajili ya dawa na matumizi mengine.

Lakini miaka michache iliyopita nilihudhuria mjadala mkali katika Ukumbi wa Karimjee kuhusu mpango wa kujenga kiwanda cha kuchimba magadi hayo. Wenyeji wa maeneo hayo ambao inasemekana walifadhiliwa na wapigania haki za wanyama na wanamazingira waliongea kwa uchungu mkubwa kuwa kiwanda hicho kitaharibu mazalia ya ndege wazuri wa flamingo pamoja na kuathiri upatikanaji wa maji katika eneo hilo.

Hapo Karimjee alikuwepo pia mwanaharakati maarufu Rugemeleza Nshala aliyeichambua ripoti ya athari za mazingira na kijamii - Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) - iliyowasilishwa hapo kwa hisia kali ya kizalendo. Baraza la Taifa la Hifadhi na Usimamizi wa Mazingira (NEMC) ilibidi likubali hoja hizo za wapinzani wa mradi huo japo wawakilishi wa wawekezaji nao waliongea kwa uchungu kuhusu jinsi ambavyo Tanzania inapata shida kuagiza magadi nje ya nchi ilhali ina magadi mengi sana hapo ziwani Natron. Ni dhahiri tuna magadi tele na watu wanajiokotea tu hapo ziwani kama nilivyoshuhudia nikitokea Kijijini Samunge kwa Babu wa Loliondo. Na ni kweli magadi yanatumika katika shughuli mbalimbali za kiuchumi kwenye viwanda vya kemikali na kadhalika. Ndio maana watabiri wa mambo tulijua tu kuwa baada ya muda Serikali itarudi tena na ajenda ya kujaribu tena kujenga kiwanda hicho hapo katika mazalia makuu ya flamingo wa kaskazini mwa Afrika. Sasa zaidi ya miaka 3 baada ya mjadala mkali uliofanyika Karimjee, Rais Jakaya Kikwete amenukuliwa akitoa agizo tata kuwa ujenzi wa kiwanda hicho uanze haraka wakati wa ziara yake katika Wizara husika. Tena tamko hilo limetolewa wakati kuna mjadala mkali kuhusu mpango tete wa Serikali yake wa kujenga barabara kuu ya Serengeti ambayo itapita hilo eneo.

Je, ni lazima tuyachimbe magadi hayo kiwekezaji? Au tuwaachie tu wenyeji waendelee kufaidika nayo angalau kidogo kwa kuyauza kwa shilingi 500 kwa wasafiri wanaopita njia hiyo bila kuathiri vyanzo vya maji na mazalia ya flamingo? Na, je, wanyama wa Serengeti na ndege wa Natron ni kisingizio tosha cha kuwanyima wakazi wa Mto wa Mbu, Engaruka, Ngarasero, Ol Doinyo Lengai na maeneo mengine barabara ya lami walau inayofika Loliondo?

Monday, April 4, 2011


Against Planned Highway Across Serengeti

Cyril Akko

I admit that an article by Chambi on The Citizen on Saturday of March 26, titled 'will Loliondo cure the Serengeti Road headache?' and some comments by Wanazuoni on the controversial proposed Serengeti Road have sent me behind my laptop to write. Currently there is a hot debate on the proposed controversial road through Serengeti National Park (SENAPA). In this debate I am against the intervention of Serengeti National Park ecosystem which is a renown world sanctuary and heritage site.

Also, I am fully aware and supportive of the need to improve the livelihoods of people in Mara Region (which to my opinion was supposed to be Serengeti Region), and enthusiastic about plans for construction of tarmac roads to link Loliondo with Arusha, and Mugumu with Musoma.

The people around National Parks are the first conservators and should thus be first beneficiaries of the parks in which they are stewards. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) and Hon Augustine Mrema, the chair of the Parliamentary Local Authorities Audit Committee (LAAC), are probably better positioned to explain this from a practical point of view.

I am convinced that if this financial-cum-beneficiary challenge would be cleared in the system, then ‘the road supporters’ would have been the first to sign petitions against the proposed road.

If there is a basic way of informing the public on how many treasures have been channeled to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) then it is this: Tourism has contributed 17.2% in Tanzania 's GDP in the year 2009!

In comparison, the mineral sector, with all its detrimental effects on the environment, is only contributing less than 4%.

Every informed decision is always made after weighing out alternatives. For my part it will be irrational to put at stake tourism's contribution to the national economy, by disrupting animals' migratory route for the sake of connecting the people of Mara Region while there is an alternative route which will serve the same purpose.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitive Index have shown that the country is slowing down by twelve positions in attractiveness as tourist destination.

This was even before the world started the movement against the proposed road. Soon or later this will be reflected in Tanzanian National Parks' (TANAPA) books.

Global tourism is the leading sector in employment as Tanzania is ranked as country number one in Africa for natural beauties.

Instead of killing the only exciting animal migration route by constructing a ‘politically motivated’ highway it is time that the government direct efforts on maximizing full potential of tourism so as to make Tanzania a better tourist destination.

Tourism should be more competitive with the intention of increasing the country’s GDP.

The Serengeti ecosystem has been studied for more than 50 years and is well documented. These studies have indicated that the whole ecosystem depends on the impacts of this massive migration. So it is clear that the ecosystem itself will change completely if the migration disappears.

Perhaps, the Serengeti will be sent to the recycling bin and we will have it in libraries.

Animal migration from Serengeti to Masai Mara is a big sign that animals knows no colonial borders, and this is what is behind all the tourism in Tanzania and Kenya. The value attached to our diplomatic relations, interdependence, dignity and respect is beyond the 54 kilometers strip in Serengeti, which if the road passes through, will have a detrimental impact on both countries.

Human activities were behind the wiping out of parks in Mozambique and Angola and I think Tanzania should take a leaf from those countries for the betterment of its economy.

The fact that Serengeti is registered as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage site saves a lot on budget which is for marketing Tanzania as a tourist destination globally.

I call upon President Jakaya Kikwete to listen to the voice of Mwalimu Nyerere stating that the “survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to us all in Africa… In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife, we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure our children’s grandchildren will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.”

Source: An Earlier Version Appeared in The Citizen on Sunday (3 April 2011 P. 13)
Author: Cyril Akko is Accessible at & +255783958936
Title: Adapted from Arusha Times' Serengeti Highway? No Way, All the Way

Friday, April 1, 2011

Too Good To Be True? Twaweza's Rakesh Rajani on How Citizens Can Make Develoment Happen!

Click the following link to read an article that draws heavily on Twaweza/Rakesh Rajani's 'model for develoment' through "communicating information and spreading ideas" :

Mamdani on 'Humanitarian Intervention' in Libya

Photo Source: Sunday Independent


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