Tuesday, 26 April 2011


If you were to enter the well furnished room you would be facing a bunch of well dressed people feeding on Indian food.  They might remind you of well off Third World executives in Europe. Photographs from the Holiday Inn last Wednesday might be dismissed as those typical casual hedonistic dinners.
 Holiday Inn is a world wide franchise with over 1,300 hotels catering to 100 million guests every night. This particular one in Brentford, West London a few kilometres from the international Heathrow Airport, however had a different twist.

Hon Kallaghe speaks, on his right is Chairman, Kamu Khaki- Pic by Rashid Dilunga 

Various professionals and the hosts, UK-Tanzania Business Group, gathered to hear guest speaker, Ambassador Peter Allan Kallaghe. He was once personal assistant on foreign affairs to the former President Benjamin Mkapa for six years then represented the country in Cuba and Canada till they brought him to London recently.
“London is dynamic and intense,” he told his audience, all sipping water or orange juice.  Most fled during the Ujamaa era. 
One lady confided in me that she was about to be forcibly married to one Government heavyweight at the peak of Zanzibar backlash against Asians and Arabs forty years ago. She eventually settled in the UK and has grown up children now.
Her heart still bleeds for Tanzania a country she was born in and loved. There are many like her, here. When Ambassador Kallaghe requested each participant to self introduce, you heard phrases like:  “I love Tanzania” and “Best Life Was in Dar es Salaam” (or Morogoro, Shinyanga, and so on).
It was not a mere sentimental peep into the past.
An enthusiastic property developer insisted how Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam is the future Satellite City. “Tanzanian economy is ripe for investment!” he yelled, positively.
Investment was the evening’s theme and song. Forget the rice curry, halal lamb and well made cucumber, onion, tomato salads. And whatever Ambassador Kallaghe said sank well because it was brief and to the point; no political rhetoric.  Articulate and tall, wife Joyce a few meters away, he insisted, “Let us have more dinners. “
Why dinners?
Ambassador and wife, Joyce (middle) with the dinners. First left is Yusuf Kashangwa (director of Tanzania Trade Centre) and third, Secretary UK-Tanzania Business Group, Zarina Jafferji. Pic by Rashid Dilunga.

This lot are certainly not starving. They are serious business people.
There was a trader who does serious mining in Sierra Leone, Congo and Ghana. He did not come here for the food. He came here to be reassured. He left Tanzania during the Mwalimu Nyerere era. Capitalism and free economy were taboo, then.
“I would like to invest in Tanzania, but I feel the locals need to pull up their socks. They are asleep. Business needs people to be quick, smart.”
The Ambassador meantime kept pushing buttons.
 “We are facing new directions, new leadership; the economic situation is irreversible.”
 Mixing geography and social economics he emphasized that Tanzania is a huge place; travelling around the country is not easy. Electricity is still dependant on water and limited. Investment in infrastructure is subsequently, vital.
Since “reformer” Ali Hassan Mwinyi came in and introduced free enterprise economy, the ensuring leadership of Benjamin Mkapa and currently Jakaya Kikwete have continued to fine tune things.
“We are not there yet, “he confessed.
It was a very typical setting. Business communities always crave for guarantees. Peace and tranquillity equals smooth trade; trade equals money.
“Tanzania is still relatively speaking a peaceful country,” the envoy chimed.
Later I chatted to Mr. Ron Fennel (of the British Tanzanian Society) who together with his wife runs “around 20 projects” involving education in the country. Or David Murray of “Malaika Kids” a charity that helps orphans under the patronage of BBC presenter, Jonathan Dimbleby and Ambassador Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar. 
Mr. Abubakar Faraji of TZ-UK Net auctions lovely pictures  for a charity fund. Pic by Rashid Dilunga.

Not to forget small significant project by Yusuf Kashangwa, director of London’s Tanzania Trade Centre. Kashangwa was collecting money to help education in the Bukoba area. An auction bid was led by Abubakar Faraji, London based Tanzanian businessman.
These were few examples of attendees with serious concerns for the country.
UK-Tanzania Business group is chaired by Kamu Khaki and secretary, Zarina Jafferji who closed the dinner with a smile amidst loud applause.

-London, 18th April, 2011.

Published in Citizen Tanzania:

And a story with interesting comments:


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