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Latest Voices from Tanzanian Blogosphere

Three new bloggers entered Tanzanian blogosphere this month. Motowaka is a school teacher in Dar es Salaam. He writes in Kiswahili. Makene is a Kiswahili instructor in Texas, USA. He also blogs in Kiswahili as Kasri la Mwanazuoni. Fatma Karama, a Tanzanian law student in the UK, joined the other Tanzananian bilingual bloggers with her blog, My Bits, Hints, and Tips.

There has been intense discussions about the first President of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Nyerere, who passed away six years ago this month. Nyerere has a special place in the Tanzanian national psyche and particularly in the imagination of anti-globalization activists. He is known as “Baba wa Taifa” (Father of the Nation) and “Mwalimu” (teacher). Pambazuko writes briefly about a recent public event in the memory of Mwalimu Nyerere at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Nyerere gained a lot of respect for his strong support of the freedom movement in Southern Africa. For example, in the 1970s Tanzania donated land in Mazimbu and Dakawa ni Morogoro, which became home to South African exiles. Tanzania was also a home to the African National Congress (ANC) before its headquarters moved to Zambia.

The main speaker at the event was Prof. Haroub Othman, one of the leading political analysts and respected academic in Tanzania. Prof. Othman presented a paper entitled: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere: An Intellectual in Power.

Harakati tells us that underpriviledged Tanzanians remember Nyerere with great sadness believing that if he were alive, things would not have been the same. Their living standard would have been better. Wealthy Tanzanians, on the other hand, have nothing to regret since his presence would not have allowed them to plunder.

Funguajicho links us to an article written by Nyerere’s son, Madaraka Nyerere. Madaraka writes about his father’s humbleness and saintly simplicity. Nyerere stepped down voluntarily in 1985, a rare gesture in African politics. He became a farmer in his village, Butiama, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It was only recently his village was linked by a tarmac road. Madaraka writes: For a village that gave birth to Tanzania’s first president, it is significant [not having tarmac road]. Throghout his 26-year term in office as Tanzania’s first head of state, Mwalimu Nyerere, resisted moves by planners to transform Butiama into a super village and made sure that it remained as other Tanzanian villages.

Despite being a former president, and also actively involved with international politics after his retirement (for example, he was the chairman of South-South Commission and the mediator in the Burundi peace process), Nyerere’s access to telecommunication facilities was not different from that of other villagers. It was not until a year after he passed away that the Tanzania Telecommunication Company installed digital technology for subscribers in Butiama.

Miruko informs us that the government of Tanzania has imported a huge statue of Mwalimu Nyerere from South Korea to be erected in Dodoma. During his presidency, Nyerere intended to make Dodoma the capital of Tanzania. Although Dodoma is officially considered the capital of Tanzania, the government operates from Dar Es Salaam.

Reginald Mengi, a media tycoon in Tanzania lost his son recently. Government airplane carried his body from Dar Es Salaam to his village in Kilimanjaro region (in Northern Tanzania) for burial. While Tanzanian media was mostly silent, bloggers have been asking tough questions about the government’s decision to use its airplane and taxpayers money to carry the deceased, a private individual. Kasri la Mwanazuo asks why his brother, despite being a civil servant, was neither cared for by the government when he was sick nor his body flown by airplane to his village for burial. Jikomboe would like to know when the government plane will start to carry poor people’s deceased ones to their villages.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are taking place at the end this month in Tanzania. There has been clashes between members of different political parties especially on the island of Zanzibar. Miruko writes about political chaos on the Island of Zanzibar where 18 people were seriuosly injured recently. Four of them were allegedly shot by live bullets by the anti-riot police. Political situation in Zanzibar has been volatile since the re-introduction of multi-party system in Tanzania in 1992. In 2001 scores of people were killed as they took to the street to protest the 2000 general election. Street fights between members of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the main opposition, Civic United Front (CUF), have become a common occurrence as the election day is approaching.

While Michuzi posts a photo of a private helcopter used by the presidential candidate for the opposition, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (the party of democracy and development), Freeman Mbowe; Kona Yangu writes that the only female presidential candidate Anna Senkoro of Popupar People’s Party is begging for gas money from well wishers so that she can visit a few places before the election day. Prof. Shayo, who teaches mathematics at the University of Dar Es Salaam, is the presidential candidate for Demokrasia Makini (Serious Democracy). Kona Yangu tells us that since he does not have enough money for campaigninig, his strategy has been to win voters as he frequents his favourite bars around Dar Es Salaam. Most political parties have very limited financial resources to carry out campaigns throughout the country. Only 5 political parties with representatives in the parliament receive government subsidies.

Three funny election related stories are circulating on Tanzanian blogosphere. Mwandani reports that two parliamentary candidates from the ruling party, CCM, in the Lake Region were asked for money to buy snuff (tobacco) by by some people attending their campaign rally. The other story comes from Gaphiz. The presidential candidate for the ruling party, Jakaya Kikwete, was attacked a rally recently. The attacker was trying to prevent the expected next president of Tanzania from sitting on a Sukuma royal stool like a Sukuma chief. The attacker argued that such traditional ceremonies usually take place at night!

Kona Yangu, who is a journalist with the ruling party’s daily paper, Uhuru, visited a campaign event by the presidential candidate for the Tanzania Labour Party, Augustine Mrema. Fifteen minutes before the end of his speech, Mrema asked voters who wanted to dance with him to do so because once he is in power they will not be allowed to get close to him.

Gaphiz and Jikomboe are not leaving the government alone for banning HakiElimu, a Non Profit Organization, for allegedly writing false reports about the state of education system in Tanzania. Gaphiz says that HakiElimu reports reflect the reality of Tanzanian falling education system and bad governance. Kazonta wants the government to give them time to learn from their weaknesses.

2 comments

  • Sonja Darlington

    I just returned from Tanzania and the elections were rescheduled until December, except in Zanzibar where they were held and CCM was called the winner. Please update your blog site, so that readers are aware of the delay in the Tanzanian elections. You might want to discuss the affect of the delay on the various parties.

  • On Mwl Nyerere, I just noticed a factual mistake in that Butiama is not on the shores of Lake Tanganyika but on Lake Victoria.

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