Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Contemporary is Tanzanian Art?


As a practicing Tanzanian artist also functioning as the artistic manager for Nafasi Art Space since February this year, I have had the chance to reflect a lot about my art practice and about the Tanzanian visual art scene in general. Today I would like to share some of my reflections and pose some questions I have been wrestling with; hoping that they will generate a discussion on the state of contemporary art in Tanzania. 

My overarching question is: How contemporary is our art scene? And to address this question it is in my view that we also need to pose a number of other questions such as: To what extent is our art evolving to catch up with contemporary reality? And who are we producing for; what kind of ‘eye’ appreciates what we produce? 

And finally I would like us to reflect on our own agency as artists—do we affect our context or are we simply affected by it? And in this dance between the artist and her/his context; are we propelling ourselves to become innovative or do we remain stifled and stagnant (due to this context)?  I think the answer to these questions is where the future of our art scene really lies.
How contemporary is Tanzanian art?

Contemporary art, by definition, is art that reflects a wide range of materials, media, and technologies. It also reflects artists that are exploring ideas, concepts, questions, and practices that examine the past, describe the present, and are imaginative of the future. Such art is very diverse, and there is not really a simple or singular way to define it, since the art itself can on the one hand seem overwhelming and difficult, and on the other hand it seems too simple that the viewer might wonder if they are perhaps missing something (Like with the blank canvas with the red dot in the center, an example that Prof.Elias Jengo confusedly gave when he was presenting). And so, maybe the most helpful definition for contemporary art is the most obvious one: contemporary art is simply the art of today.
Art21, the very resourceful documentary series for artists to challenge their own practice and to stay in touch with other artists and art practices of today, has one of the most interesting definitions for contemporary art. They define it as four things… They define it as;

   1. The work of artists who are living in the twenty-first century,

     2. As art that mirrors contemporary culture and society, offering teachers, students, and general audiences a rich resource through which to consider current ideas and rethink the familiar.

3. Art comprising of a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge the traditional boundaries and defies easy definition.

    4. Art that is diverse, eclectic, and one that is distinguished by its very lack of a uniformorganizing principle or ideology.
Is there contemporary art in Tanzania?

How much does our art mirror any or all of the above-mentioned defining characteristics of contemporary art? And how much are our artists giving voice to the varied and changing cultural landscape of identity, values, and beliefs (In this globally influenced but locally anchored, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world)?
Working from Nafasi, I get to converse a lot with different artists that are members of the center, or just visit the center on a day-to-day basis, as well as the general public. And in these conversations, this question comes up every now and then. Most of the feedback that I receive, and especially from international artists coming from more exposed and more developed contemporary art scenes, is that there is no contemporary art in Tanzania, because, in their view, our art still concerns itself with technique and aesthetics over subject matter and that it still mimics the traditional styles and imagery that used to be captured by our old masters like Tinga Tinga, the Makonde carvers, etc as well as by the old European masters… and therefore it is not evolving.

If this is the argument, and not to say whether it is the right argument or not, then perhaps the answer to the question is there contemporary art in Tanzania? lies in the answer to my next question; to what extent is our art evolving to catch up with contemporary reality? And here I would include art schools and curricula, art spaces and our old masters and their practices that help to mentor our artists.

When we look at a work of art, we tend think about things that we have seen, things that we have heard, or things that we have experienced before. Art does not (or should not rather) just appear—it is not created in a vacuum because artists are constantly supposed to be researching and referencing; building on timeless themes and researching on forgotten histories, or borrowing from traditional methods and techniques to realize new ideas.
Looking at Tanzanian art; in what ways can we say that our artists are diverging from traditional notions or assumptions about Tanzanian art? And to what extent are our art schools, curricula, art spaces, and old masters mentoring, helping or inspiring our artists to do so?

The Tanzanian learning system is critiqued for being a system that nurtures cramming over understanding. If the argument is that our art still mimics the traditional styles and imagery, and mimicking basically equates to cramming… because it is simply a repetition of what one knows/has been taught, not less, not more. Are we then perhaps simply an art scene of crammers? To what extent are our art schools, curricula, art spaces, and old masters that mentor artists challenging our artists to be more imaginative, original, and to challenge known notions of what art is and how it can be made?

And how challenged exactly are our artists if the art schools are not producing any art critics or curators… and if the country has less than a handful of spaces from which artists can exhibit their works? Is it possible for artists to evolve without the exposure to critics, curators, collectors, art galleries and museums?
[I went to an art school that was, unfortunately, not local, and there we were required, since first year, to visit an art exhibition every week and submit a review of the exhibition at the end of the week. We were required to curate our own student exhibitions that happened twice a year (and were marked down for bad curating), and we were also required to reflect and write about our own practice in relation to historical references and contemporary references. Looking at the context in which I practice in now, and how limited it is, I wonder how challenged an art teacher would be to even attempt to create this kind of curricula for their students!]

It is a known that culture, by definition, is something that is always changing and evolving. Who are the propellers of this change of a culture? And since art is a cultural product, but the argument is that the majority of our art (and artists) are not evolving/changing, do we then not fall into the trap of simply becoming an art scene of crafts people or artisans? Because crafts are often functional, and often only concern itself with technique, and aesthetics, but not so much with subject matter, and crafts rarely ever evolve, and they have a very particular audience… this, by the way, leads me to my third question; who are we producing for; what kind of ‘eye’ appreciates what we produce?

Who are our artists producing their artworks for? Is it for tourists and other types of voyeurs from other cultures in search for the exotic (for our case its the exotic African sunset, imagery of animals, maasais, village life, etc)? Is it for people who are simply seeking to decorate the walls of their home and very specific about size and colors amongst other things of the pieces they are buying? Or is it for the hardly existing curators, collectors, art museums and galleries in the country?
Is making art that sells the number one driving force for our artists, and if so, does making art that sell allow for/demand for our growth as an art scene?

Who is our audience? What kind of ‘eye’ appreciates what we produce? Audience is mandatory to an art practice. And if our audience taste, interest and understanding for art does not evolve, is it really possible for our art to evolve?

I came across an interesting read once titled What is contemporary art and how does it matter? by Ric KasiniKadour who wrote; and I quote: Art is incomplete until it is received by the viewer. Just as artists need to evolve, society needs to evolve as well.  Before the message of the artist is relevant, the audience has to be able to receive it… we need to learn how to read art!’ [end of quote].

The audience plays a very active role in the process of constructing meaning in a work of art. Some artists (including myself) often find that the viewer has a big contribution in completing their artworks by simply contributing his or her personal reflections, experiences, opinions, and interpretations of the artwork. To what extent can we say that our artists are interacting and receiving useful feedback on their practice from our Tanzanian public? 

I think that is where the challenge for the Tanzanian artist is, i.e., their agency vs their context. Do we affect our context or are we simply affected by it? And in this dance between the artist and her/his context; are we propelling ourselves to become innovative or do we remain stifled and stagnant (due to this context)?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wako Wapi Kina Anna Calculator?

Wako Wapi kina Anna Calculator?

“Watu wananiona mimi kama mwehu, lakini nina akili zangu timamu kabisa!” – Anna wa Mtwara

Jacqueline Mgumia

Usiku wa tarehe 17 Oktoba 2014 nilikuwa Villa Park, Mtwara nikipata chakula cha jioni. Katika kuongelea burudani za mji huo mmoja wa watu tuliowakuta mezani alitutaarifu kuwa walikutana na binti aliyeitwa “Calculator” mwenye uwezo mkubwa wa hesabu aliyekuwa kivutio kikubwa. Nilishangazwa, kwani mara nyingi vivutio vya wageni ni sanaa – sikuwahi kudhani hesabu nayo ni sehemu ya sanaa. Kwa butwaa nikauliza, “sasa huyo binti ana uwezo gani”?

Mmoja wa mashuhuda akasema, “juzi tulipokuwa tunakula huyo Calculator alipita, nasi kwa shauku tukataka kupima uwezo wake, hivyo, weita akatuambia tumuulize swali lolote la hesabu atatujibu. Tukamuuliza ‘kuna tisa ngapi katika mia moja?’ Kwa wapesi kabisa akajibu kuna tisa ‘20', wakati sisi tulidhani kuna tisa 19. Calculator aliwakumbusha kwamba 99 ina tisa mbili, kwa maelezo hayo wapimaji wakaingiza mikono mifukoni mwao na kumpa fedha kidogo  kama pongezi.

Kutokana na hamu ya kutaka kumfahamu Calculator nilimuuliza mhudumu tunawezaje kumuona. Kwa haraka haraka akatujibu, “yule! hayuko vizuri. Hakai sehemu moja anazungukazunguka tu. Labda mumjaribu kesho jioni.” Jioni tuliyoambiwa haikuwa nzuri kwetu kwa kuwa tulikuwa tunaondoka kurudi Dar es Salaam kesho yake alfajiri, hivyo, tukaamua kurudi mchana kesho yake kumtafuta.

Nikamuuliza mhudumu tuliyemkuta iwapo anamfahamu Calculator, yeye mara moja aligeuka na kuelekea counter, aliporudi akatwambia, calculator haipo counter. Hakika alikuwa hamfahamu Calculator mtu bali kitu, hivyo, tukasubiri mhudumu wa pili ambaye alituvunja moyo zaidi. Alisema, “hakuna anayefahamu Calculator, anatokea wapi, anaishi wapi wala simu yake.” Pia akatueleza kuwa hotelini hapo kuna wakati anafika na wakati mwingine hafiki, kwani kuna wakati wanamfukuza iwapo anaonekana kuwasumbua wateja.

Ingawa uhalisia wa kumuona ulianza kufifia, ndani ya moyo nilishikwa na hamu ya kukutana naye labda kwa sababu nilikuwa siamini kwa nini mtu mwenye uwezo kama yeye anafanya sanaa ya hesabu hotelini, na pia kwa nini watu wamuone hana akili timamu?

Hivyo, nilipopanda bajaji kurudi nilipofikia, nikamuuliza dereva wa bajaji kama anamfahamu Calculator. Kwa bahati nzuri alikuwa anamfahamu ila akasema itakuwa vigumu kumpata kwani anazunguka sana mchana na hafahamu anakaa wapi. Tukakubaliana katika mizunguko yake iwapo atakutana naye amuombe aje hotelini kwetu na atakapomleta tutamlipa usafiri wake. Aliridhia na kutoa tahadhari kwamba anaweza asimpate kwani Calculator ana mizunguko mingi sana pia “hapendi watu wanavyomuitaita na kumshangaa.” Nikatoa salaam ampe: “mwambie sisi hatumshangai tunataka kutambua uwezo wake.”

Saa moja baadaye, dereva wa bajaji alipiga simu kwamba amempata. Nilitoka nje na kukutana na dada ambaye alijitambulisha kwa jina la Anna! Swali langu la kwanza lilikuwa jina la Calculator limetokea wapi. Alijibu, “napita huko njiani watu wananiuliza ngapi jumlisha ngapi, ama ngapi gawa kwa ngapi, nawajibu. Wao wanaangalia kwenye calculator walipoona sikosei wakaanza kuniita Calculator.”

Anna alimaliza darasa la saba mwaka 2002 ila baba yake alimwambia hakufanikiwa kuchaguliwa kuendelea na shule. Hivyo, alienda kuishi na bibi yake mzaa mama kufuatia kifo cha mama yake. Leo hii Anna ana umri wa miaka 27, anaishi na bibi yake na mama yake mdogo hapo Mtwara. Toka alipomaliza la saba hakubahatika kuendelea na masomo wala kupata kazi kutokana na ugonjwa wa kifafa unaopelekea aanguke anguke hivyo kuwafanya waajiri wengi kukataa kumpa kazi.

Baada ya kufanya maongezi naye kwa muda mrefu na kumuuliza hesabu za kujumlisha, kugawa, kuzidisha na kutoa kwa zaidi ya nusu saa nilijiridhisha kwamba Anna hakika ni Calculator. Baadhi ya maswali niliyomuuliza yalikuwa: Kuna mtu ana matofali 552. Akaamua kuwapa watu watano kila mmoja matofali 72, je, yeye atabakia na matofali mangapi? Kwa haraka, ndani ya sekunde tatu alijibu 192. Mimi kwenye calculator jibu lilikuja 190, nikamwambia kakosea, akarudia hesabu hiyo na kusema kwamba jibu ni 192, nikarejea tena kuhakiki kwenye calculator, ni kweli mimi ndiye nilikuwa nimekosea.

Baada ya hapo nikamuuliza hesabu hizi za kuzidisha na kugawanya kwa haraka haraka: (i) 920 x 5= 4600, (ii) 927 x 4 = 3708, (iii) 48 x 49 = 2352, (iv) 97 x 95 = 9 515, (v) 2300/7 = 328.571, (vi) 322/5= 64.4, (vii) 1950/6 = 325, (viii) 9580 x 250 = 2,355,000. Katika hesabu zote hizi, alikosea namba (iv) lakini alipopewa nafasi ya kusahihisha, alitoa jibu sahihi ambalo ni 9215. Kila swali aliweza kutoa jibu lake ndani ya sekunde 10, mengi akijibu ndani ya sekunde 3. Hata watu waliokuwa jirani walikuja kumsikiliza na  walistaajabu.

Hakika tulistaajabishwa na uwezo wake na hata kumfanya rafiki yangu aliyekuwa karibu, Chambi Chachage, kumuuliza alijifunza wapi hisabati. Anna alijifunza hesabu kupitia shule ya msingi, kama vijana wengi wa Kitanzania. Anakumbuka mbinu za kukumbuka urahisi wa mahesabu kupitia MAGAZIJUTO (Mabano, Gawanya, Zidisha, Jumlisha, Toa). Pia kichwani kwake kuna kumbukumbu ya table nzima ya kuzidisha. Anasema alizikariri hesabu hizo kwa ufasaha alipokuwa shule ya msingi. Anapofanya hesabu anaziona kirahisi tu kichwani japo kuna wakati kinamuuma.

Kwa uwezo huo, nilidhani Anna angefanya vizuri kwenye hesabu alipokuwa shuleni. Lakini akasema hapana, alipokuwa shule alikuwa anapata na kukosa, kwani kuna wakati alipokuwa anaumwa alishindwa kujua mbinu gani wenzake walijifunza na hivyo kukosa hesabu mpya. Anna aliendelea kujifunza hesabu alipotoka shule, kwani yeye kichwani huwa anaziona namba kwa urahisi pale anapotembea barabarani na huwa zinamvutia. Pia hujifunza namba kwa kuangalia magazeti na kujibu maswali ya watu anaokutana nao.

Kwa kuwa nafahamu kwamba tunapofika darasa la saba watu wengi tunakuwa hatufahamu trilioni na bilioni, nilimuuliza yeye namba hizo alizijuaje baada ya kuziandika kwa usahihi kwetu kwenye karatasi tuliyompa. Alisema namba nyingi anajifunza kupita matangazo ya Tigo na Voda, kwani wanatoa zawadi za mamilioni na hivyo yamemsaidia kujua bilioni 1 ina milioni elfu 1, na trilioni ina sifuri 9.

Katika kuelezea uwezo wake alisema hesabu zote ambazo ni chini ya elfu moja ziwe za kutoa, kujumlisha, kugawanya ama vipeo na vipeuo huwa hazimchukui muda kuzifanya. Anaweza kuzijibu hizo ndani ya sekunde zisizozidi tatu. Lakini hesabu zinazoanzia na maelfu kwenda juu na ambazo zina mchanganyiko wa namba nyingi huwa anazifanya kuanzia sekunde 5 mpaka 10.

Pia huwa anakosea hapa na pale hasa hesabu inapokuwa na namba zilizochanganyika sana au zinapokuwa na jibu lenye desimali baada ya kugawanya. Moja ya hesabu hizo ni 950 x 2443, alitoa jibu la 2,318, 850 ambapo alikosea namba mbili, jibu sahihi likiwa 2,320, 850. Katika maswali ya kugawanya hukosea desimali namba inapokuwa kubwa sana, kwa mfano, nilipomuuliza 9568/869 ni ngapi,  alitoa jibu la 11.011 badala ya 11.010.

Sasa Anna anakitumiaje kipaji hiki? Kwa kuwa hana kazi na watu wamekuwa wanavutiwa na uwezo wake, anafanya sanaa ya hesabu. Watu wanapomuita akiwajibu maswali magumu kwa furaha huwa wanampa fedha kidogo. Wengi wa watu hawa ni wageni, hivyo hufikia mahotelini. Lakini kwa kuwa ana ugonjwa wa kifafa amekuwa akianguka mara kadhaa mbele ya watu na hivyo wenye hoteli humfukuza kwa hofu anaweza kuangukia wateja mahali pao pa azi.

Sasa mimi nabaki kushangaa tu! Ni watu wangapi wana uwezo kama wa Ana na hawajulikani kabisa ama wamebaki kufanya sanaa ya hesabu? Je, ni nini kifanyike mtu anapokutana na kipaji kama hicho?

Najiuliza, ni sahihi kweli kumuita mtu mwehu kwa kushindwa kujua uwezo wake? Ni kweli alifeli darasa la saba au kifafa kilimfanya asiendelee na shule? Nini hatma ya kina Ana Calculator wa Tanzania?

Tunawatambuaje? Tunawasaidiaje? Tunawatumiaje?

Chap Chap Africa is Not a Country@Nafasi Art Space

Oiling our Economy the Norway Way

Oiling our Economy the Norway Way

Chambi Chachage

“How do different interest groups define and protect their diverse interests?” – Sufian Bukurura and Donald Mmari on ‘Hydrocarbon Resources in Tanzania’

Tanzania is on its way to become a petro-state. This prospect was a bone of contention on Friday, 24 October 2014, when the Ambassador of Norway, Hanne-Marie Kaarstad, her compatriots and counterparts in our country launched a program on the subject. The heated debate rekindled my quest for making sense of our overhyped oil and gas industry.

It is instructive to recall that three years ago we made this observation: “The Norwegian trio – government, non-governmental organizations and companies – have of recent been involved heavily in matters pertaining to oil prospecting off the Indian Ocean Coast of Tanzania”. We noted that this “triad constitutes what can be regarded as a Corporate-State-Civil Society (CSC) Tripartite Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Setup.” We loosely defined this setup “as the interplay of international power relations in a given land between entities emanating from a foreign country with the overall aim of benefitting it.”[1]

Today we need to revisit this setup, not only because the Norwegian triad has step up its involvement, but also because we need our own strong tripartite setup. As the old biblical adage goes, a threefold cord is not quickly broken.[2] The first question we need to ask ourselves is: Do we also have a Corporate-State-Civil Society setup that is capable of engaging critically with our counterparts to ensure that we also benefit from oil and gas?
Of course the answer is a resounding no. The second question, then, is: Can we? Yes, we can. Despite the fact that neither the state nor the corporate, let alone civil society, is monolithic, there comes a time when various sections of these entities come in unison on matters of civic, public or national interests. This is what we ought to learn from Norway.

The recently launched “Programme for Research, Capacity Building and Policy Dialogue” on “Tanzania as a Future Petro-State” is illustrative. Funded by the Norwegian Embassy, this five-year research program (2014-2019) is “dedicated to combining the expertise, insights and influence of established researchers, private sector representatives, public officials, civil society organizations and the media.”[3] Here we are seeing the Norwegian petro-state funding the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) from Norway to partner with Policy Research for Development (REPOA) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of Tanzania – a consortium of government and non-government entities.

We are talking about the same petro-state of Norway that co-owns Statoil, a corporate entity that is busy prospecting for oil and gas in Tanzania under a contentious leaked Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) that has generated a heated public debate.[4] This is a state that has been playing a significant role in shaping the Tanzanian oil and gas policy landscape. Professor Sospeter Muhongo, the Minister responsible for this sector in our country, has underscored its celebrated role in his foreword to the draft petroleum policy.

He thanks “the Royal Government of Norway for partly sponsoring the policy making process through the Institutional Co-operation Programme between Tanzania and Norway in the Petroleum Upstream Sub sector.” The minister, a geologist by academic profession, also notes that the Petroleum Policy Committee “visited Norway and had constructive discussions with Norwegian Government institutions responsible for governance of the petroleum upstream sub-sector.” More interestingly, he informs us that this policy committee “worked closely with a moderator/advisor from Norway right from the initial stages of problem identification to the drafting of the Policy Document itself.”[5]

Upon reading it, an oil and gas engineer quipped on Wanazuoni social media: “After knowing what we know now about the leaked Statoil/ExxonMobil PSA. It raises questions on who was the "Norwegian moderator", what exactly was his involvement in the policy drafting. Smells like a conflict of interest. Anyway, in my opinion they should have formed a completely independent committee without any members with potential vested interests. I mean the Norwegian government has a 67% stake in Statoil.”[6]
Conflict of interests, as we have noted elsewhere, are broad and involve non-monetary aspects.[7] Here it is important to note that what seems as conflicting interests stem from the way Norway’s CSC setup operates in our country. Regardless of their differences, Norwegian actors are, first and foremost, involved in our gas and oil industry for the benefit of Norway. This holds true whether we are talking of NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation; NPD, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate; PETRAD, a Norwegian non-profit government foundation; Norsk Hydro, a company whose gas and oil division merged with Statoil; or NorWatch, a Norwegian watchdog.

However, there is nothing wrong in learning from a friend. It is indeed the right thing to do especially when your friend has been successful. And surely Norway is a success story of how one can use oil and gas for development. But, as Professor Sufian Bukurura has eloquently noted in his commentary on the inception report of the research program on Tanzania as a future petro-state, it is an elusive Norwegian magic thus hardly replicable.[8]
For him the difficulty arises from the fact that it is not simply about having institutions like the ones the Norwegians built to avoid turning oil and gas into a resource curse. While we agree with him, we also contend that the CSC setup that is working in ensuring that oil and gas remains a resource blessing to the Norwegians could work against us, Tanzanians, if we do not effectively come up with our own CSC setup that would not only collaborate with, but also counter, them in situations where they could be benefitting at our expense. This also ties with Professor Bukurura’s caution against local free riders.

By these riders he mean those local researchers who do not contribute equally and are obedient followers or low profile partners in joint initiatives, albeit from outside of our country. They simply rubberstamp whatever arguments and findings that foreign researchers come up with. By merely being there, they fulfill “the local content requirements and carried interest”, terms that are so common in the oil and gas industry. It is those who are sarcastically referred to as spare parts rather than counterparts and they can be present across the CSC spectrum, letting down their compatriots along the way.
Professor Bukurura and Donald Mmari, a member of the launched research consortium, have also produced a working paper that strongly argues for bringing back the state in managing such important natural resources. It is ironic that we are attempting to import the Norwegian oil for development model that is state-centered after abandoning our own statist model that we created during the heydays of the Arusha Declaration on Socialism and Self-Reliance. The privatization honeymoon is over. So now it is conducive to recall some of the nationalization aspects of our old model that anticipated that of Norwegians.

Listed as “Norway: the Ten Commandments” in their paper are the following five that are pertinent in this regard: “National supervision and control must be ensured for all operations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS)”; “Petroleum discoveries must be exploited in a way which makes Norway as independent as possible of others for its supplies of crude oil”; “Petroleum from the NCS must as a general rule be landed in Norway, except in those cases where socio-political considerations dictate a different solution”; “The state must become involved at all appropriate levels and contribute to a coordination of Norwegian interests in Norway’s petroleum industry as well as the creation of an integrated oil community which sets its sights both nationally and internationally”; “A state company will be established which can look after the government’s commercial interests and pursue appropriate collaboration with domestic and foreign oil interests.”[9] They almost sound like our (then) Arusha Declaration blueprint.

Yet having a strong state – Tanzania – requires having a solid civic society. Here we use this term because it is more fitting than civil society, which is conventionally associated with civil society organizations, some of which are simply personal properties. Civic societies tend to be located where particular people and their activities are. In this regard they are those that any oil and gas discovery or utility directly affect, positively or negatively.
Hence if we were talking about oil and gas in Mtwara then a local civic society would be the people and forms that their organizations take there. But since their lot is inextricably tied to that of their fellow citizens of Tanzania in other places then the national civic society encompasses all Tanzanians and their organizations that are (directly) involved in the sector. When strong, they are capable of collaborating and/or confronting the state and the corporate depending on where the pendulum swings in the CSC setup. What is important is that when the Tanzanian and foreign CSC setups meet, nationalism should prevail. And here nationalism simply means national interests as defined by nationals.

The Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) is a key player between the state and the corporate as it is both statist and corporatist. What remains to be seen is a strong civic component. Such a complete CSC setup would make it an effective negotiator with the likes of Statoil that somehow get ‘legitimacy’ from their state and civic entities.

It is “possible”, as Professor Adolf Mkenda – the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Tanzanian Ministry of Finance – points out, “to have a petro-economy without maximizing national public revenue” and it is also “possible to have a huge boom of public revenue without proper management” so “the two must go hand in hand”[10] To do so in Tanzania, as in Norway, requires a strong and strategic Corporate-State-Civic setup.

[1] Sharing the Spoil: Norwegians and Oil Prospecting off the Indian Ocean Coast of Tanzania
[2] Ecclesiastes 4: 12, KJV
[3] REPOA, NBS & CMI (2014:1) Information Sheet on ‘Tanzania as Future Petro-State’
[4] Statoil Gas Contract: Tanzania’s Media picks up the Story
[8] REPOA-CMI-NBS Research Consortium: Tanzania - Prospective Petro-State Inception Report - (Un-researched) Commentary
[9] REPOA’s (2014: 22) Special Paper 14/3 on ‘Hydrocarbon Resources in Tanzania: Achieving Benefits with Robust Protection’
[10] Quoted in REPOA, NBS & CMI’s (2014: 9) Inception Presentation on ‘Tanzania as a Future Petro-State’

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Africans are not United

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wanafunzi wa Mwalimu Nyerere


Moja tisa sita saba, kawakusanya Arusha
Wa taifa yeye baba, Azimio kufundisha
Wanafunzi kwa mahaba, wakajibu kwa bashasha
Zidumu fikira zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Tuache kuombaomba, si heshima asilani
Nje hatuna mjomba, sasa bakuli la nini?
Tuivunje hi kasumba, kawafunda hadharani
Zidumu fikra zako, Hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Kwenu cheo ni dhamana, jiepusheni vituko
Musijivike ubwana, kutawala kwa viboko
Rushwa semeni hapana, nyie ishikeni miko
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Tumenyonywa vya kutosha, mapinduzi sasa yaja
Kupuuzwa metuchosha , jikomboa iko haja
Ukoloni umekwisha, sasa tukate mirija
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Kila alowafundisha, wakaitika tawile
Vichwa wameinamisha, mithili ya misukule
Nani angeweza bisha, akadumu zama zile?
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Lipoitwa na Kadima, walikwenda Butiama
Walilia njia nzima, wanafunzi kalalama
Nyota yetu umezima, ona jahazi lazama
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Palepale msibani, wote wakala yamini
Alowapa darasani, tayashika maishani
Tayahifadhi moyoni, toyaacha asilani
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Mwalimu wanamuenzi, midomoni jakauka
Kwenye nyumba na mabenzi, picha zake mebandika
Kwa kuonyesha mapenzi, redioni wanamweka
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Kila moja anamwenzi, hakuna aliyemwacha
Majahili wanamwenzi, hakuna aliyemwacha
Wasafi wanamuenzi, na walafi jamuacha
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Ulo ujinga wa jana, wao meukumbatia
Na yale yaliyofana, ajabu wanabomoa!
Wanafunzi mekazana, urithi kujimegea 
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

Wanamuenzi mwalimu, kwenye makampuni yao,
Wanamuenzi mwalimu, kwenye makasri yao,
Wanamuenzi mwalimu, kunako migodi yao
Zidumu fikra zako, hiyo ndo’ kauli yao

© Ado Shaibu-Komredi wa Malenga

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Engaging with Something Quite Unlike Myself

Engaging with 'Something Quite Unlike Myself'

I have never reviewed a poetry book before. But after reading a couple of poems in Michael Onsando's (2014) Something Quite Unlike Myself, I felt a strong urge to do so. So, here we go.

As its first poem intimates, the book is like an open bag, full of poems that got spilled and could not be gathered (p. 7). Collecting them into one coherent theme had thus been a challenge. No wonder, earlier on, the 'foreword-er' notes, "with a massive sense of transgression  of breaking multiple taboos" (p. iv), that it "is a restless poetry..." written "at a time of fracture...." (p. v)

One may hence conclude that its main theme is the "self." Could it be that its author, by employing the negation "unlike myself", is trying to tell the reader about a 'restless' and 'fractured' self? A self that is striving to "inhabit what might be possible"? (Ibid.)

But is it simply poetizing about Michael's self? I doubt it. The poetry is a journey into the quest for self-determination. Resonating with my reading of Ngugi's  Re-membering Africa, Onsando's text focuses on selves that constitute Africa's dismembered self. It is thus a poetic conversation of African selves among others.

My favorite, of course, is the one that sets the stage to what intrigued me as a very creative style of organizing and concluding a book: "She asked me about my blistered feet. I asked her about her manicured hands" (p.11). After sharing a number of poems, the poet returns to this central question at the very end: ""you still haven't answered my question about your blistered feet' she says."(p. 38). Then the answer comes - a line that would leave you, the reader, with an urgent sense of why we need to re-member the self.

If we do so, "another throat" won't be "slit" while the "white dove sits on a branch high above...and watches..." (p. 27). Yes, if we re-member Africa(ns), "a black crow" won't be a "sign of wisdom trapped inside an unspeaking body..." (p. 37). We will indeed be something quite unlike our gendered, racialized and 'classed' selves.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kongamano: Nafasi ya Fikra za Nyerere - 18/10/2014

Leila Sheikh on Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment: Prevention is the Best Option

Leila Sheikh

Despite the enactment of the Sexual Offences Special Provisions Act, 1998, Sexual Harassment continues to be the most perpetrated crime against women. In the workplace, Sexual Harassment often includes threats, bullying, intimidation and emotional abuse.

Tanzania has made strides in enacting SOSPA 1998 but much, much more needs to be done to protect women, especially in places of employment. For example, the statute of limitation in SOSPA 1998 places a deterrent on women to report cases of Sexual Harassment. The clause on time limitation needs amendment so that women would have the time to prepare emotionally and psychologically to press charges against the harassment.

We need to have a separate legislation on Sexual Harassment, which would make it mandatory for every employer to have a Gender Desk and an Information Kit on Sexual Harassment. The Information Kit should include the relevant clauses in the legislation in reader-friendly language, the forms in which Sexual Harassment takes place, what an employee ought to do when it takes place and the measures to be taken to safeguard the employee against bullying, threats of losing her job and the intimidation which always accompanies Sexual Harassment.

Places of employment in the formal and in the informal sectors should put up posters with information on Sexual Harassment. India passed legislation in 2013 addressing Sexual Harassment at work place specifically to prevent it from taking place. This is a milestone in the history of India and needs to be replicated in our country.

The impact of Sexual Harassment on women's health and incomes is gross. Women lose their jobs if they do not give in, or become emotional wrecks if they do succumb.

All stakeholders should take prevention of Sexual Harassment seriously. Prevention would help save the livelihoods and the lives of women. It would help in the Response to prevent new HIV infections. It would increase women's productivity. It would give the ownership of dignity and self-esteem back to women. It would be consonant with the Bill of Rights and the Charters to which Tanzania is a signatory.

Prevention of Sexual Harassment would remove the backlog of pending cases in law courts. It would give women the impetus to strive harder to break the glass ceiling in their careers. It would give women the opportunities to blossom into strong, assertive people which is our Right, instead of being wilted flowers, plucked in the bud of our careers.

A Commission on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment should be established which would coordinate the Initiative to ensure all places of employment are safe for women.

This can, and should be done, otherwise the Human Rights Charters, which we, as a nation signed, are just a sham.

Such a Commission would monitor the establishment of Gender Desks in all work places, that Information is posted in a visible place in reader-friendly language on Sexual Harassment and what to do when it takes place. Justice demands so!

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