Friday, March 25, 2016

Which Individuals Institutionalize Corruption?

Which Individuals Institutionalise Anti-Corruption?

Chambi Chachage

This week the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) assembled our best minds in dealing with corruption. Probably to cut the cost associated with paying for our venues, this #BBCAfricaDebate was held at the British Council in Dar es Salaam. Of course, dealing with the apparent "Africa's biggest killer" can mean anything from conceptualizing to combating even among those who practice it.

Nonetheless, our very own Zuhura Yunus from BBC Swahili was there to co-moderate an English-speaking panel that included Aida Kiangi, Ali Mufuruki, John Githongo and Zitto Kabwe. Afterwards we got to hear the same debate in our mother tongue, Kiswahili, that featured Betty Masanja, Manson Nyamweya, Nape Nnauye and Zitto Kabwe. On the front rows were lined up some sort of supporting panelists such as Aidan Eyakuze, Ave Maria Semakafu, Boniface Mwangi, Maria Sarungi, Maxence Melo from the whistleblowing Jamii Forum, Sandra Mushi and a representative from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
As someone who is suffering from the fatigue of hearing and talking about corruption, I did not expect much. Yet the lively debate inspired me to muse on a model for instituonalizing and individualizing anti-corruption. The spark came when one of the moderators, Owen Bennett-Jones, conducted an impromptu poll on the audience. Interestingly, roughly 75% said they had given a bribe before. Expectedly, no one said they had asked for bribe before.

I thus reminisced of the day when I decided, against all embarrassing odds, to stand in front of a packed audience at Soma Book Cafe and share my experience of giving a bribe. At that time I doubt if I knew anything about the statute of limitation and how our learned brothers - and sisters - use it to protect people who have broken the law in the distant past. The naive and dreamer in me simply thought that since 'honesty is the best policy' then 'coming out' may be contagious enough to help us to 'open up' about our personal challenges in dealing with everyday corruption.

One incidence occurred when, in search of adventures in Pan-Africanism, I took a bus from Cape Town in South Africa to Dar es Salaam. Anticipating that the police in the borders may ask for a bribe, I ensured that all my travel documents were carefully packed. But, alas, for some strange reasons when I got to the Zimbabwean border I could not see my yellow fever card.

What is now known as the Zimbabwe crisis was beginning. All the police officers wanted were South African Rands or American Dollars. I had Zimbabwean dollars and some caution money for exchanging for Zambian Kwacha and Tanzanian Shillings. The bus driver was becoming impatient. The choice was clear: we leave you  at the border or you give the bribe. To my surprise some passengers contributed money for the bribe and gave the conductor to give to the police officer. I still wonder if they didn't share the spoil.
How, then, does one institutionalize anti-corruption among individuals who are 'cornered' in a situation like that? Do you simply say it is all about 'changing our mindset' from such a 'moral economy' that 'characterizes' Africans as some critics put it? Or do you start by dealing with the 'dialectics' of institutionalization and individualization that would put the 'chicken-egg question' to rest?

For me, the answer is the latter. You cannot simply say we first need institutions as if they are not built by/on individuals. We cannot safely - as Ali Mufuruki aptly put it when responding to a question about whether we need dictatorship or democracy to deal with corruption effectively - depend on corrupt individuals to build anti-corruption institutions. After all, corruption begets corruption.

But the question is: What type of individuals are out there? I am convinced that there are three types though there is a thin line between each of them. The challenge then is to ensure that those who are caught in between are 'nudged' towards the type that is better positioned to institutionalize anti-corruption countrywide.
Group 1 is a very small one. It is made up of those who would not give or receive a bribe no matter what. I suspect they are hardly 1%. Even if the heavens fall they would stand by their principles as a needle to the pole. You can do all you want - even put a knife on their throat or a gun on their head - but they would not change their minds. If touching their skin is not enough you may touch their loved ones yet they would not give in. Such folks have no price as they are ready to pay the ultimate price in order to not partake of the poison chalice. They are a rare, if not an endangered specie.

Next to them you would find most of the 75% we encountered in the BBC debate. They are not proactive in giving bribe. But when they are cornered - as Yours Truly at the Beitbridge Border - they may buckled under the strain. Give this Group 2 a strong leader - a Magufuli - who seems to be against corruption and they would thrive. After all they hate giving bribes yet they are not ready to lay down their life - or forsake the access to whatever they have to give a bribe to get a privilege to - for the sake of the war on corruption.

Put individuals from Group 1 in power together with those in Group 2 then you are on your way to institutionalizing anti-corruption. What you end up with is a virtuous cycle that could keep on engendering individuals who are ethical through our families, schools, churches, mosques and workplaces. The more you do this, the more you shift those who are in-between these two types to become deeply ingrained with an anti-corruption ethos.
 Despite some of my failings, I would like to believe that I am one of those who fall in-between Group 1 and 2. Let me illustrate. When our country was issuing new versions of passports I was in the Scottish Highlands. Our Tanzanian community there organized for Immigration officers to visit us so we can apply as a group without having to resort to bribing. However, I had to go back home to Tanzania before they had issued our new passports.

Knowing what I would encounter at the Immigration Office in Dar es Salaam, I went to ask them not to send it to the UK. Luckily, I met someone who was excited to learn that her/his sir name is like my first name. Things turned sour when she/he started saying she/he had set it aside after noting that we were namesakes yet she/he could not see it. I kept coming back and that is when I realized there was some sort of 'code language' that was being used among those who were asking or giving bribes to get passports. 

 My 'passive resistance' led me to inquire about it in another cubicle far from away from the office my newfound namesake lest she/he notices that I suspect she/he was playing foul. Incidentally, she walked in and when our eyes locked I knew my passport is doomed for yet more delays. After going back and forth, she/he finally told me that she/he had shipped it to the UK, thinking I had already left Tanzania. How on earth could I go there without a (new) passport?

So, at the end of the day I had to refund more than double the money to our community leader in Scotland to courier the passport to me. For once, I had exhibited what individuals in Group 1 would do. It felt good to be on the right no matter the cost. But how does an individual sustain that if she/he is more or less in Group 2? By  institutionalizing the social cost of corruption. This is what Nape Nnauye referred to as social sanctions in the BBC debate though I felt he went a bit overboard with glaring examples from Botswana.
One has to feel and know it is more rewarding socially - and even economically - to move from Group 2 to 1. The old Psychological concept of punishment and reward as  reinforcers is still workable as innovations in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) indicate. But you need individuals from Group 1 who can take a lead on this.

Could those from Group 3, i.e. individuals who proactively ask for bribes or give bribes to 'oil' their way through, be transformed or rehabilitated through this model? Is there hope for them? As long as they are not in the higher echelons of (political) power, their influence can be curtailed. They may tow the line out of fear yet when an opportunity come their way, corruption would be business as usual. But we do not need a (benevolent) dictator to instil the fear of God in them. All we need is to ensure that their vicious cycle is cut short through the democratic process of ensuring that once those in G1 and their G2 allies are in power they remain there. 
John Githongo and Manson Nyamweya from Kenya seemed so optimistic about Magufulification in Tanzania and its prospect for spreading across Africa in their contributions to the BBC debate. It may be too early to the cynics in some us to not be wary given that Magufuli, as Zitto Kabwe reminded us, has been part of the same government for 20 years as a cabinet minister and deputy minister.

Yet, in term of our model, our President and Commander in Chief seems to be an individual who is in Group 1. Whether he has always been there or moved there now from Group 2 is beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to conclude that, we need to seize the 'Magufuli Moment' against corruption while - and lest - it lasts.

When is Judging a Book by its Cover Okay?

"See this bizarre&embarrassing cover image of a recent bk from Tz. A fisher boy eyeing high rise on 2nd St. New York!" - @IssaShivji


"It is just a parody of poverty and pandering to an intellectually poor view of prosperity" -


"Giving an overview of the book earlier, Dr Bashiru Ally from the UDSM and one of the writers of the book, said the book is written with a strong desire of helping the government and all Tanzanians, so they can turn the corner towards economic prosperity" - Rose Athumani via Daily News


"Presenting the book, Dr Bashiru Ally from UDSM said for the country to mark off poverty, leaders must push for higher standards of education, performance and integrity. "We need a strong and visionary leadership with achieving attitude to ensure transformation process, for it is hard to realize the objectives if people are disorganized", he noted. Dr Bashiru also emphasized the formation of long-term and sustainable socio-economic plans to which all leaderships should adhere regardless of their time succession" -


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tanzania vs Vietnam: Comparing Apples & Oranges?

As Tanzania hosts the President of Vietnam it may be a good idea to read:

Jamal Msami: 

Blandina Kilama:


Damian Gabagambi:

Hazel Gray:


Brian van Arkadie and Do Duc Dinh:

Jan Kees van Donge:


Marjorie Mbilinyi:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What if Olduvai Gorge is in Kenya?

Olduvai Gorge is in Kenya! If not, Olorgesailie is the cradle of humankind!

Muhidin J. Shangwe

The Internet has provided humanity with a social space that was unimaginable not very long ago. Information travels faster like never before, an incident in the streets of Lilongwe is a click away for someone in Shanghai and vice versa. The amount of information we are bombarded with every time we switch on our internet-connected computers or smart phones to be precise, is sometimes too much to read. We receive video and audio clips of all sorts, images we would and wouldn’t want to see, breaking news coming from right, left and center- just to keep you posted, so is the logic. 

A few days ago ‘news broke’ that Olduvai Gorge is in fact in Kenya! The news breaker was a Kenyan named Rosemary Odinga, who took the advantage of International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) meeting in New York last year to make the announcement. This is what she said:

“…. You see up until then I had been taught that the oldest fossil was found in Kenya, a place called Olduvai Gorge. And that Kenya was a cradle of mankind… which means when I look at all of you here no matter which country you come from, to me you are all Kenyan!” 

The news made it to the social media- that space so egalitarian that everyone’s opinion seems to matter. As anyone could have predicted, Tanzanians were aggrieved and wasted no time to vent their anger on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, you know, these online platforms. I would be very surprised if Kenyans were at least not embarrassed seeing a daughter of the soil making fun of their education system on that international podium. Nevertheless, Tanzanians turned in numbers on social media, references were made that Kenyans have made it a habit of “stealing from us”, and that they have been stealing Mt. Kilimanjaro for sometime now but because their belly is too big to be full now they want “our Olduvai Gorge!”

Odinga has since issued an apology via her Instagram account, blaming it on a Freudian slip. She maintains that she had meant to say Olorgesailie, not Olduvai Gorge, is in Kenya. She stopped short of saying whether she still thought Olorgesailie, not Olduvai Gorge, is the cradle of humankind. She leaves it in the air for you to decide! 

Despite a well-worded apology, a big section of an army of Tanzanian netizens (citizens of the internet) was having none of it. Most of them resorted to abuse, calling her names and all sort of nasty comments popped up. The thing with internet is that it has produced space for keyboard warriors, bullies, bigots, sexists, misogynists, and racists to air their opinions without having to look over their shoulders. 

Now back to Odinga. I am not a psychologist nor am I an expert in body language but when I first looked at the video of her speech, I took it for granted that she was only being ignorant rather than someone “stealing” the Gorge which every history record, except for her history book- of course, shows that it is located in Tanzania. That conviction of mine has not changed, even after her apology. My judgment was merely based on a simple question that how could someone in her right mind use an international platform in a foreign country to tell lies on something which is otherwise elementary history? At this time and age where a quick search on official pages will take you to pages that will then tell you that Olduvai Gorge is not only found in Tanzania but is scientifically proven to be the cradle of humankind? 

Ignorance! It has been argued that too much information available to us makes us less focused. There is just too much information, which means that every piece of it is just a piece of information! It seems that no degree of importance attached to certain information would grab our attention! This explains the fact that even a basic knowledge on plain issues still eludes us as we are busy scrolling up and down our smart phone screens looking for information yet reading none- in the midst of it!

But I want to talk about the reaction to Odinga’s Freudian slip. Her apology seems to have confirmed my belief that hers was ignorance as opposed to intentional ‘theft’ of the priceless Olduvai Gorge. A quick search of official pages in Google (which I had thought she should have consulted before her speech) shows that the historic Olorgesailie has human fossil that dates back 900,000 years ago while Olduvai Gorge’s dates back 1.9million years. It means that Olduvai Gorge has recorded human existence 1 million years before Olorgesailie! So which one has the oldest fossil? What is perplexing about her apology is that suppose she meant to say Olorgesailie instead of Olduvai Gorge, does it still make the former the cradle of humankind to the extent of declaring that all the attendees in that meeting were in fact Kenyan? 

Again, I truly think it was a case of ignorance, something she has tried to cover. Ignorance is real, even to some of us who have the privilege accessing the Internet. However, one can still sense elements of pseudo-nationalistic drive in her declaration that “we are all Kenyan”- something which appears to have incensed pseudo-nationalists in Tanzania. Kenyans and Tanzanians are not new to trading blows in the social media and elsewhere.
For Tanzanians, Kenyans are hardcore capitalists, predators preying on our resources, job and land stealers, or in one word, Manyang’au. Recent remarks by the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, that his compatriots are experienced thieves have provided additional ammunition to Kenya’s bashers in Tanzania. Meanwhile for Kenyans, Tanzanians are a lazy lot, socialist dreamers and, more importantly, murderers of the English language! Kenyans speak English and Tanzanians cannot is the accepted innuendo. 

Back to Odinga. One argument I picked from the reaction to this ‘saga’ was one which suggested that Odinga was schooled in the USA therefore she is not acquainted to African history! Upon suggestion that her Freudian slip could have been corrected by a Tanzanian in attendance, the author of this argument exclaims, “I would not be surprised to learn that the Tanzanian attending that meeting does not know where Olduvai Gorge is, let alone its historical/archeological significance!!!” He goes on to accuse the Tanzanian attendee of being from an elite family- the type who knows little of their surrounding because they have been brought up as ‘other’ people. 

I do not know for sure whether this is true or not, but it is one of the arguments floating out there in the wake of this story. What this brings to our attention is the state of our education. When I say “our”, I mean Africa as a whole. Reading across reactions, there is a strong indication that some Tanzanians, as angry as they appeared, knew little about Olduvai Gorge. You could tell from the misspelling of the name itself! Indeed for many it seemed that it was only a case of “defending” the country against yet another robbery by Kenyans. Pictures of Kenya Airways plane with ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’ tags on the side were shared, as proof of how Kenyans are stealing from us! 

Along with it was an allegation that Kenya attracts more tourists because they have been telling the world that Africa’s tallest mountain is in Kenya. Pictures of the Kenyan Airways plane were provided as evidence. I must say I have never fathomed how a tourist would fall for this blatant lie, in this time and age of Google but some of us seem to believe so. Some even went further to claim ownership of Kiswahili, accusing Kenyans of stealing the language too! As I said, ignorance is real. I am not going to ask how many Tanzanians (I will spare Kenyans) know a thing or two about Olorgesailie and what it signifies.

The urgency, rigor and vigor with which they took on Odinga are a perfect example of pseudo-nationalistic tendencies so apparent in the social media these days. For sometime now, online battles between this African country and that African country have been fought. And won. Kenya is said to have arguably the strongest army of netizens. They even defeated Nigerians, I am told. On Twitter they boast the name KoT (Kenyans on Twitter). They are not the type to be messed with. 

The online battles, more often than not, are about trivial issues which get blown out of proportion, invoking chauvinistic, pseudo-nationalistic sentiments as other netizens join in to “defend” their respective countries. What is sad is that in most cases, knowingly and sometimes unknowingly, they all come down to “we are more Europeanized than you”, or something similar to that.

Back to Odinga again. Her apology, although still wanting, is wrapped in Pan-Africanist overtone that makes it difficult to not forgive, at least for some of us. She writes:

“I have just been reminded of an incidentwhich occurred while attending IYLA in New York last year where I had a Freudian slip. Apparently our brothers and sisters from TZ are alarmed that I have grabbed their Olduvai Gorge. I meant to say our equally historic Olorgesailie site in Kajiado. As I have learnt, what happens in New York does not stay in New York. So, what would Magufuli do? Sorry Tanzanians, your Olduvai Gorge is safe. In the spirit of one East Africa let’s shake hands after all at the end of the day we are the cradle of humankind.”

Sweet words.

Ironically, she could have mentioned during the IYLA meeting in New York that Olduvai Gorge is in East Africa and that no matter which countries her audience came from, they were all East African! But hasn’t she apologized? Let’s forgive.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mwalimu Nyerere Aliondoka au Aliondolewa?

Travel Well Captain Gower - I Miss Cecil the Lion

Travel Well Captain Gower. I Miss Cecil the Lion

Media furore over the shooting down of a helicopter in Tanzania, killing Roger Gower, masks a bigger picture of hunting and evictions in the name of wildlife preservation

By Navaya ole Ndaskoi   

RECENTLY a helicopter was gunned down in the Greater Serengeti Region, Tanzania. The attack left one Briton, Captain Roger Gower, dead and a South African, Nicky Bester, wounded.

Within hours the incident went viral online with articles portraying Gower as a wildlife saving hero, shot down while he was on an anti-poaching mission. The social media was literarily filled to the brims. Foreign press had its field day too. The BBC, CNN, the Guardian of London, The Independent, AFP and all the others celebrated Christmas nearly a year before. The Telegraph went a bit far quoting campaigners saying “the killing [of Gower] would be poaching’s ‘9/11’”. 

Tanzanian officials, like vultures congregating over a carcass, rushed to the site of the wreckage. Notable among them were the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof. Jumanne Maghembe and Alan Kijazi, Director General of the State-owned parastatal, Tanzania National Parks. The way Prof. Maghembe bemoaned on the death of Gower equals only to a eulogy given to a fallen hero in defending his nation. As Jonathan Adams and Thomas McShane wrote convincingly in their book, The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion, published in 1992, “nothing plucks the heartstrings better than a lion cub or a baby elephant.”

Several friends telephoned me asking that I comment on Gower and the tragic episode. However, there is the African saying which goes, “Do not shoot a dead sheep.” The honorable thing to do, therefore, is to wish Gower a safe journey in his trip to join the ancestors. I will concentrate the main fire instead on some fundamental issues surrounding the tragic attack, a chain of events showing that Gower was not simply on an anti-poaching mission. Claiming this is an effective way of immortalizing him. The reality is that Gower was working for a company that sells game hunting trips, that plays the role of a gamekeeper as conservationist. The attack on Gower’s helicopter is the second of its kind, following the shooting of Andrew Kock in the same area in 2011. Kock was working for yet another trophy hunting company called Robin Hurt (T) Ltd.

Trophy hunting of elephants in Tanzania

The mass media in general and travelogue in particular is deliberately telling fibs to the unsuspecting world public about poaching, especially of elephants, in Tanzania.
In February 2014 the British Government hosted a conference in London to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade. Prince Charles, the other Duke of Wales who is himself a wildlife killer, claimed, “More than 30,000 elephants were killed last year, amounting to nearly 100 deaths per day.”

President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, addressing the same conference, asserted that “a new census at the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem revealed the elephant population had gone down to just 13,084 from 38,975 in 2009.” These figures are included in numbers of elephants in Tanzania.

Kikwete, shortly after sounding nice in London, issued a Hunting Permit to eight members of the family of billionaire Thomas Friedkin to kill for pleasure 204 animals including eight elephants. The online version of The Guardian [of London] in an article published on February 1, 2016 revealed that Gower recently came to “Tanzania to work for the Friedkin Conservation Fund.”

What is Friedkin Conservation Fund? Thomas Friedkin started a game hunting company in Botswana in 1972. In 1989, he chose to hunt in Tanzania and after purchasing a preserve there, began Tanzania Game Tracker Safaris (TGTS). TGTS make profits by selling game hunting for fun trips. The company “returns some profits [from killing animals and donations] through the Friedkin Conservation Fund, a non-governmental organization established in 1994.”

Trophy hunters and all the Friedkins of this world think, with their heads on the ground and feet in the air, that by killing elephants for fun they are helping preserve elephants.

It is not only the elephants that the Friedkins kill. They also illegally bait and kill lions. The Western press shed crocodile’s tears when Cecil the Lion was shot in Zimbabwe. Yet suddenly, following the downing of the ill-fated chopper, it started heaping praises on the Friedkins.

Land grabbing – in the name of conservation

The second issue is unparalleled land grabbing in the area in question. Moringe Parkipuny in his unpublished MA Thesis titled Maasai Predicament Beyond Pastoralism dated 1975 and Prof. Jan Shetler in her book captioned Imagining Serengeti documented in shocking details how Prof. Bernhard Grzimek, a soldier and one-time member of the Nazi Party, led the eviction of the Maasai and other tribes to give room for the creation of Serengeti National Park in 1958.

Tanzania has set aside 40% of her territory for wildlife conservation. This is in the form of national parks, a conservation area, game reserves, forest reserves, game controlled areas and marine parks. By comparison, continental United States, one of the countries supporting preservation initiatives in Tanzania, has set aside less than 4% of her land for conservation.

Third, there is discontent in villages on the fringes of Serengeti National Park. Tension springs from creation of new forms of wildlife protected areas in territories belonging to indigenous peoples. In 1998, for example, Frankfurt Zoological Society, a Germany-based not-for-profit wildlife preservation agency, spearheaded creation of Makao Wildlife Management Area in Meatu District. Irambandogo, Mwangudo, Makao, Sapa, Jinamo, Mwabagimu and Mbushi Villages lost over 47,000 acres of ancestral land to the new form of preservation.

Evictions and elitism

In 2011 the worst thing happened. In the name of wildlife preservation Mwiba Holdings Limited and TGTS, banding together like poisonous worms, worked together to see Hadza hunter-gatherers, Datoga pastoralists and Sukuma agro-pastoralists brutally evicted from Makao Wildlife Management Area. Court cases were fabricated against many indigenous people. Courts freed many of them after long legal battles. Some, like Masunga Luchemba, is in remand for four years now facing a murder case. Normally a murder suspected cannot be bailed in Tanzania.

Often people disappear in this part of the world. Two brothers Gineau Gidahasi and Gitienga Gidahasi went missing in 2015. Villagers level accusing fingers to Mwiba Holdings which in turns strenuously denies any wrong doing. The missing young men are presumed dead.

The foreign press has massive space to flood with crocodile tears following deaths of Gower and Kock but the same hardly publishes anything about local victims of conservation in Tanzania. 

Fourth, Nelson Mandela once said that a protected area in Africa “is a preserve of a rich elite.” He got it right. The Greater Serengeti Region is immensely a popular destination of the privileged of this world. These include Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Others are Bill Gates, Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, Roman Abromovich, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Chris Tucker, John Wayne, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie and many others.

White saviour complex

Lastly, but in way least, is the chronic racism in the wildlife and tourism sectors in Tanzania. If names are any indication Roger Gower and Nicky Bester are people of European stock.

To be sure, it is impossible not to notice that famous wildlife preservationists working in Africa, and especially Eastern and Southern Africa, are white. Think of Mike Fay, Jane Goodall, George and Joy Adamsons, Bernhard and Michael Grzimek, Diane Fossey, the Leakeys, Delia and Mark Owens, David Western, Moss, Joyce Poole, the Douglas-Hamiltons, Jean and Mathieu Laboureur, Bill Webber, Craig Packer, Ian Redmond, Amy Vedder and the new species.

In his groundbreaking book, Celebrity and the Environment, published in 2009 Prof. Daniel Brockington, Director of Sheffield Institute for International Development asks, “Why, in Africa, should this domain be dominated by white people? In South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya conservation was and often still is dominated by the descendants of white settlers.”

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