Swahili Blogosphere: Higher Education Blame Game, Miss Universe, and Personal Privacy vs. Public Life

Hardship is the name of the game, it seems, for Tanzania's higher education students both at home and abroad. While the University of Dar Es Salaam has readmitted all the suspended students after the recent students’ strike over ‘unaffordable fees’, another crisis over students funds ensues for Tanzanians in Ukraine. About 29 Tanzanian students at Ukraine-based Kharkov University have been suspended from the university due to lack of school fees. The students have been camping at the British High Commission. Tanzania's opposition parties have created a special emergency fund to help the abandoned students amidst government denial of all the students’ claims.

Muhidin Issa Michuzi and Maggid Mjengwa have posted photos of the students outside the British embassy. A comment in Michuzi blog sums up the question in everyone's mind:

Hivi hao vijana walifikaje huko kama sio kwa kupelekwa na serikali?? sasa yawaje hii leo serikali inawakana kwamba haiwatambui?

How could those young people get there if the government did not send them? How come the government has abandoned them now?

While the recent student's saga has been covered by few bloggers, many bloggers have be been following closely all the news about the Tanzanian contestant at Miss Universe 2007 , Ms Flaviana Matata. Michuzi has a number of posts about Miss universe urging his readers to vote for Flaviana. So is Zeze and Charahani.

Chemi Che Mponda wonders if it will be ‘our Flaviana’ this time, noting her shaved head,which is uncharacteristic of previous Miss Universe winners.

Mjengwa is proud of Flaviana:

Mimi sintamwita Flaviana ” Binti yetu”. Huyu sasa ni mwanamke wetu anayetutangaza duniani. Anafanya kazi ngumu iliyowashinda “Wanaume” wengi katika jamii yetu. Tunamtakia kila la kheri…

I will not call Flaviana our daughter. She is our woman who puts us in the world map. She is doing a hard job, which most men have failed to do in our society. We wish her all the best…

And, slowly but surely, Tanzanian bloggers are getting closer to the formalisation of Jumuiya ya Wanablogu Tanzania (the community of Tanzanian bloggers). They have already discussed the basic structure of their community and now the interim committee has invited bloggers to declare their intentions to stand for elections. Luihamu, Ramadhan Msangi, Damija and Kitururu have already expressed their wishes to contest for different positions.

Hoping to help building an effective and ethical Tanzanian online community, Jeff Msangi writes about internet predators posing as teenagers. He urges Tanzanians netizens to abide by the netizens code of conduct:

Wapo watu wazima chungu mbovu ambao kazi yao ni kutafuta watoto wadogo mitandaoni,kuwarubuni,kuwafanya kitu mbaya na hata kuwaua.Inawezekana kirahisi kwani mtandaoni mtu anaweza kujiandikisha kwa kudanganya kila kitu.Babu wa miaka 90 anaweza kujiandikisha kama mtoto wa miaka 10 nk. Nchi zinazoendelea kama Tanzania yetu ni lazima nazo ziamke mapema inavyowezekana katika kuwalinda watoto wa nchi.

There are lots of adults who prey on minors through the Internet, they lie to these minors, then they abuse or even kill them. It is very easy to be an imposter on the Internet. A 90-year-old man can register as a 10-year-old boy. Developing countries like Tanzania must wake up and protect their children.

On the road, photoblogger Maggid Mjengwa, who travels around country Tanzania on regular basis and posts photos on his popular photoblog, gave a presentation on citizen journalism to Communications students at the Muslim University in Morogoro, Tanzania. During his presentation, they discussed, among other topics, issues that dominate the front pages of Tanzanian newspapers, particularly the recent marriage breakup of one of the youngest members of parliament, Hon. Amina Chifupa.

Swahili blogosphere has not been spared from Amina Chifupa's private affairs either. After some of the newspapers in Tanzania splashed the news about Hon. Amina Chifupa marriage breakup, the big question remains: Should private lives of politicians saturate the media? Should the public care about what a politician does at home?

Some of the bloggers who have written about it are Chemi Che Mponda, photoblogger Muhidin Michuzi ,Mroki ,who posted a photo of journalists waiting eagerly for the divorced MP press conference; and Mzawa.

Chemi Che Mponda feels for Amina Chifupa:

Miaka mingi nimekuwa nikifuatilia habari zake. Lakini hii miaka ya ya karibuni maisha yake yameanikwa hadharani na kushabikiwa kama vile maisha ya hao stars wa Hollywood. Yaani maisha yake imekuwa kama Tanzanian Soap Opera. Ni kama vile papparazzi wanavyofuatilia maisha ya Paris Hilton hapa Marekani… Kwa kweli tangu jana nilisikitika sana nilivyosikia kuwa mume wake kampa TALAKA! …

I have followed news about her for years now. In recent years, her life has been exposed to the public just like stars in Hollywood. I mean, her life has become like a Tanzanian soap opera. It is like paparazzi with Paris Hilton here in America… I have been so sad since yesterday when I heard the news of her DIVORCE!…

And lastly, Ndesanjo writes about the annual Highway Africa Conference taking place in September 10-13 in South Africa. He asks journalists to apply for a scholarship to attend the conference.


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