Monday, 27 June 2011


A few days ago a good friend phoned to borrow some money. He had a small problem with his car and the law. Usually in such circumstances a person would be anguished, but the guy was laughing:
“You know what I just realised, Freddy? You are the seventh person I am calling. Despite most of us driving cars,  having nice TV’s at home and eating regular meals; despite all this, none of us has any money. I am in dire straits, I might go to prison you know. I am desperate but no one can help me. I might be stupid saying this but I think back home in Africa they have more money than us. These cuts are very bad.”
Is that right?
That people back home have more cash?
Recently I have noticed many fellow immigrants here in London have three or four telephone lines. When one phone bill is unpaid they buy a cheaper line from a rival company. Cheapest are Lyca and Leballa at the moment. Bigger established companies like Orange, Vodafone, Virgin and T Mobile are proving too costly.
The 2008 Bank crisis started it all.
It had been brewing for a while but that was the red light. Then followed a change of governments. Barack Obama won elections and the face of USA was altered. In the UK, the Labour party lost elections and the coalition of Tories (Conservatives) and Lib Dems (Liberal Democrats) took over in May 2010. The economy was in shambles, mismanaged by Labour...the new leaders said, promising to fix things.
Journalist Simon Jenkins wrote in the respected Guardian:
“They are all new boys and girls. Unless Cameron can perform miracles of leadership, his stay in Downing Street may be one of inner calm but it seems likely to see external turmoil... Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs will slide easily into rebellious conclave, while Labour regroups under a new leader.”
It sounded like a mild clever, prophesy. When new Chancellor (equivalent to Economic Minister, Mr Mustafa Mkulo) George Osborne announced new budgets the main word was cuts. Cuts. At first, cuts sounded like a song by aliens. Music from planet Saturn. Back then we did not really understand the word. Soon we would. First casualty was education and young people.
One Labour website compared the Cameron – Osborne union to Jedward, the two brothers competing to win the popular TV program X Factor. John and Edward were hot news in 2009 and 2010. The identical twin musicians from Ireland became famous after their song “Under pressure Ice Ice baby” hit the charts. Philosophically they were described as the Jedward Paradox.
 Labour site booed: “David Cameron and George Osborne are the Jedward of politics. Hilarious to watch. All spin and no substance. But you won’t be laughing if they win.”
Within a few months, 50, 000 students approximately, from all over the UK joined protesters in Central London against intended raised fees for students. It was worse for international students. Young Tanzanians spoke of returning home.
Talking exclusively for the Citizen at the height of the demos in December 2010 High Commissioner, Mr. Peter Kallaghe told me it will be” next to impossible” for Tanzanian students to afford studies in the UK.
Instead of pinning hopes on studies in Europe it would be better to look at our own colleges (i.e. Dodoma) and younger emerging economies in India, Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil, the envoy advised.
Come beginning of this year, political turmoil in Middle East rocked the world; first Tunisia then Egypt followed by Libya. With the Middle East crisis we got rising petrol prices. This means expensive food, grocery, general transport.
It was like when OPEC countries hiked oil prices and triggered world wide inflation in 1973. OPEC (Organisation of oil exporting countries), proved we are at the mercy of global, capitalist economics.
 The domino effect is obvious. Last weekend violent demonstrations occurred in Greece. Police used tear gas against protesters throwing all sorts of things at them including Yoghurt. Greek government debated cuts, raising taxes, selling state property. This has already happened in UK. It is happening in the Middle East and consequences are already been felt.
Historically during such times; transformation is obvious. The more we understand the better.  It happened prior to the Second World War in 1939. It was evident in the inflation chaos of the 1970’s. In Tanzania the climax was the 1979 war to topple Idi Amin and a tough era before free economy was ushered in by Mr. Ali Mwinyi, successor to Mwalimu Nyerere, affectionately known as Mzee Rukhsa.
It is happening again...

Published in the Citizen-23 June, 2010

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