Sunday, 29 December 2013

STRONG WINDS, DESPERATION AND CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS



It is Monday, winds are so strong across the British Isles that we have been advised not to travel unless very unnecessary.
 I am quickly rushing across shops ready for Christmas, two days away. As I speed around, violent gales are blowing umbrellas off people’s hands. I watch an elderly woman battling with the gadget- a classic argument with nature.
Umbrella says: “Let me protect her. I cost her money, you know. I am expensive.”
Wind replies: “You can’t. I am strong. I am the universe.”
Umbrella protests: “Have you nothing else to do? Why don’t you go to the distant valleys where you belong? What are you doing in our cities?”
Wind blasts harder; making noises, offering a cruel and distasteful expression.

The hand of the woman tries desperately to hold on to the plastic handle of the umbrella. The upper part of the rain shield cannot resist the power of the brutal teeth of air and tearing gusts.
Woman fails to walk with such challenging gusts. She lets go. Umbrella falls off her hands, wind dashes off victorious, looking for another victim.

Friday, 20 December 2013

FROM DR DAVID LIVINGSTONE TO MWALIMU NYERERE AND MANDELA



 The passing of Nelson Mandela has made us reflect on forgiveness and humanity.  African history has been on my mind- a way of finding where we were and whither our road goes.  It is 200 years since Dr David Livingstone – the famous British explorer was born in 1813.
Dr David Livingstone with one of his various African porters, shown here from The Philosophy of Science Portal Blog.

 Before the Afro centric approach was introduced into our education system, white explorers were perceived as heroes.  Actually when I was in primary school (during the 1960s) the Euro centric approach used books called new and old lands. From Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Vasco Da Gama, Mungo Park to Dr David Livingstone, these determined chaps supposedly came to explore our dark world and open up global geography.  Mount Kilimanjaro was “discovered” by Johannes Rebman (and Krapf), in the 1840s. Disbelief of the German’s findings lingered; they called him myopic, for twelve years.  I can imagine it is like some of today’s older generation who are not so keen with the internet.  Geography was dark.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

AN HOUR WITH SWAHILI LEGENDARY WRITER AND BROADCASTER- ABDILATIF ABDALLA...



 I spent over 60 minutes with Kenyan writer, Swahili promoter and lecturer, now retired; grandfather of twelve grand-children, Mr Abdilatif Abdalla. We walked along Camden Town in northern- west London, had tea; and hardly a moment passed without laughter. Abdilatif is one of those gifted humans that find fun and amusement and meaning in very simple things.
At 67 years his mind is sharp and his senses possess charisma which the Oxford English dictionary defines as: magnetism, appeal, allure, presence, strength of character. A hundred years ago, famous American novelist, Jack London wrote: “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”

 
Two ouststanding Swahili pundits : Award winning journalist Ahmed Rajab (left ,seated) with Abdilatif Abdalla...pic by Mohammed Said.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

MASHUJAA WAWILI WA MFANO WALIOFARIKI MWEZI NOVEMBA…


Tarehe 23 Novemba 1963 wakati namalizia malizia darasa la pili,  tuliambiwa tusiende shule. Jana yake, Rais John F Kennedy wa Marekani alipigwa risasi akiwa ziarani mjini Texas. Nakumbuka Watanganyika (tulivyoitwa miaka hiyo ) tulivyosikitika. Rais Kennedy alipendwa sana. Marekani iliisaidia Tanganyika kwa  misaada na wataalamu wa kujitolea – walioitwa “Peace Corps.” Urafiki huu ulidhihirishwa na mifuko ya sembe na vyakula yenye picha ya mkono wa Mzungu na Mwafrika vimeshikana kirafiki.
Mwalimu Nyerere alipokaribishwa  na Rais John Kennedy na kuhutubia Ikulu ya Marekani- mwaka 1963. Walikuwa marafiki wakubwa. Miezi michache baadaye Rais Kennedy aliuawa.

Baada ya miaka mitano mdogo wake marehem, Robert F Kennedy naye aliuliwa kwa risasi wakati akifanya kampeni za Urais. Wengi walitazamia angekuwa kiongozi bora kama kaka mtu.
Toka walipouawa ndugu hawa, sinema mbalimbali na mandishi yametolewa kuhusu kisa na sababu. Aliyezungumziwa na anayeendelea kuongelewa ni marehem John Kennedy- rais aliyependwa kuzidi wote katika historia ya Marekani.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

MTINDO WA KISASA WA NYWELE UNAHARIBU AFYA ZA WANAWAKE WEUSI


Watu wa kabila la Chwi kule Ghana wanaozungumza lugha iitwayo Tshi wana methali kuhusu umuhimu wa kupendeza. Inashauri: “Ikiwa mwenda wazimu ataiba nguo zako na kukimbia nazo wakati wewe uko majini unaoga, itakuwa vyema utafute angalau kipande cha kitambaa ujifunge  wakati unamkimbiza maana usipofanya vile watazamaji watadhani na wewe umeheuka.”
Hakuna mwanaume ambaye hajawahi kupayukiwa kuwa asuburi wakati ndugu yake wa kike anajipodoa akijiremba. Na kati ya mapambo yote nywele zinaongoza foleni. Mwanaume waweza kutoka bila kuchana nywele, unaweza ukawa nusu kipara (kama mimi mwandishi) lakini hujali mradi u msafi utatoka zako mitaani. Kwa mwanamke kujisanifu nywele ni tendo muhimu sana. Ndiyo maana waandishi mbalimbali wa hadithi hawakosi maelezo ya ususi ndani ya riwaya zao.


Friday, 28 June 2013

WE SHOULD ALL BE CONCERNED ABOUT BEES...

Cultivating gardens,planting flowers and not using harmful pesticides is one way of ensuring bees survive... pic by F Macha


The earliest memory I have of bees is my mother yelling at me to lie flat on the ground in rural Kilimanjaro.  I must have been seven or eight. Swarms of bees would noisily zoom past like tornadoes. At that time I never associated bees and the sweet stuff they naturally produce.
The notion that bees are vicious insects that bite was as common to us villagers as were stray dogs and wild animals.
Ten years later (now a teenager) I was writing stories and poems and one was about the fierceness of bees.  I was, by then, aware that bees made honey and that honey was good for you. However, the idea that they were dangerous could maim even kill, dominated social values.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

WHAT HAS SYMBION POWER, SUNDERLAND AFC AND PRESIDENT KIKWETE HAVE IN COMMON?


It is Sunday late afternoon.
President Kikwete with kids at the Academy of Light....on his left is the Minister of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fenella Mukangara...pic by Urban Pulse.

 I am standing a few meters away watching BBC journalists, Sophie Ikenye (Kenya) and Charles Hillary (Tanzania) interviewing President Jakaya Kikwete, in Sunderland.  Sunderland might be as unknown to some as Lindi, Naivasha or Soroti, is to non East Africans...yet it is a word   connected to Tanzanian sporting history. Back in the 1930s as President tells Sky TV later, Simba Sports Club was formed and adopted various names including Dar Sunderland until 1971 when Simba became permanent. Back then we Swahilised the title to Sanda...
Well. Not only Simba (Sanda) possessed “unusual” names, Young Africans (Yanga) was nicknamed Kuala Lumpur...
So we are in Sunderland, New Castle.

Monday, 17 June 2013

LONDON’S SPITALFIELDS MARKET AND NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR TANZANIAN FARM BUSINESS





Picture this. A huge table. Around eleven in the morning.  People of all nationalities are seated listening and watching one of the speakers holding a small thin mango. If you are a child it might look as though the man is fondling a beautiful toy. Tantalizing and mouth watering the mango is quite ripe. Usually it would cost you around three thousand shillings here in London. The price in Tanzania is much, much less than that. High season Embe Sindano? A mere hundred to three hundred shillings. Probably just 500 for low season.
“I can get you better mangoes than this” the medium built man says dead pan. By the tone of his voice, the contours of his calloused hands and his relaxed demeanour we can say (and conclude) he knows what he is talking about. Photographers in the room and journalists are taking in everything he is saying. Looks like an historical occasion.
The man who we have been told has a farming background picks up a bunch of sweet bananas (“kichani cha ndizi kisukari” in Swahili) and with that similar mix of positive arrogance, experienced and relaxed composure declares:
“We can provide you better bananas than this.”
What does he mean by better?
“Thicker, bigger and sweeter.”

KIFO CHA ALBERT MANGWEA – KINATUULIZA MASWALI GANI- Sehemu ya Pili



Kwanza kabla ya kuendelea na (kumalizia) mada tuliyoianza wiki jana,  tuwape pole ndugu wa familia yake Albert Mangwea. Tuwape pia pole marafiki zake na wote waliomjua kwa karibu. Tuwaombe radhi kwa kuendelea kuzungumzia jambo ambalo linawakumbusha uchungu wa mtu aliyekwisha zikwa.
Pamoja na hayo tujikumbushe madhumuni ya kuandika na kuzungumzia suala hili.
Kwanza kabisa kupoteza vijana wanaoanza maisha katika hali hizi mbaya si jambo zuri. Wapo wengi wanaondelea kuzungumzia kwamba ni Mungu kaamua na kwamba kifo ni asili maisha. Hatukatai hilo. Ila kwetu Tanzania imekua sasa desturi kukubali vifo na utamaduni wa kufa mapema.  Wanapoendelea kufariki vijana tunakubali ni maajaliwa. Zikitokea ajali za magari (zinazouzilika) zilizotokana na uzembe  wa madereva pia tunalitaja jina la Mungu. Mungu amekuwa sasa ndiye  mwamba wa kila baya. Kageuka kisingizio. Kwanini sisi tu ndiyo kitakwimu tuna vifo vingi zaidi tena vya watu wenye umri mdogo?
Lakini kabla ya kuendelea zaidi, tukubaliane ...

KIFO CHA ALBERT MWANGEA -KINATUULIZA MASWALI GANI?- Sehemu 1



Babu wa fasihi ya Kiswahili, Shaaban Robert alifariki mwezi huu  mwaka 1962. Ingetakiwa sikukuu ya kifo  chake yaani Juni 20  ifanyiwe maadhimisho kila mwaka. Sisi na wenzangu wa bendi ya Sayari tuliwahi kusheherekea kwa maonyesho ya 1983. Hazina hii tukufu ya taifa inatakiwa zaidi ya hilo.
  Moja ya vitabu vyake babu ni  “Kielezo cha Fasili” (kilitolewa upya na mwongozi wa wachapishaji Tanzania; “Mkuki na Nyota” ,2004) kinafafanua mashairi yake kwa wasomaji mintaarafu  ya kujenga mapafu kilugha.
Ananyambua  Shairi la “Jina”: “Mwanadamu mwenye fikra njema huacha fahari au sifa kwa watu ambayo vizazi vyake vya nyuma yake hupenda kuiona, na ambayo itakuwa kama hazina kwa watu wote katika dunia.”
Albert Mangwea hakua Shaaban Robert;  kafa akiwa na miaka 31 tu. Lakini  Mangwea au Mangair alitumia fani ya ushairi kuchangia kuiendeleza fasihi ya Kiswahili  na kipaji chake alichomegewa na Muumba.
Kifo  hiki kilichokua Usauzi (Afrika Kusini) kimeongelewa na kinaendelea kuongelewa. Mwaka jana wakati huu Tanzania ilimpoteza Steve Kanumba. Vifo vya chipukizi hawa vimeacha utata na mijadala marefu.
 Mangwea alifia ughaibuni.  Maisha ugenini ni magumu maana habari huwa hazitangazwi sana. Mbali na taratibu za kisheria na itikeli, kinachongojewa kutufariji huwa viongozi wa dini na serikali.

IDENTITY CRISIS PART OF THE PSYCHE BEHIND WOOLWICH ATTACK

For days now almost everyone has been talking about last week’s killing of a young British army guy at Woolwich, south east London. Most were shocked and appalled at the same time. Discussions about the whys and whatnots have been the theme.  Views range from blaming policies of the big nations Vis a Vis Israel and the Palestinians to presence of soldiers in Afghanistan, to religious extremism, ad infinitum...

And speaking of the elephant in the room, i.e. religious extremism…

WATOTO WETU WANAVYOANZA KUATHIRIKA NA HALI YA KISIASA NCHINI


Wakati n’naishi Brazili miaka 20 iliyopita moja ya woga mkubwa ulioenea ni hatari ya watoto wadogo mijini. Hatari gani?
Sikiliza ...
Siku moja Jumapili  n’natembea ufukwe maarufu wa Copacabana  jijini Rio De Janeiro. Hapa pana eneo kubwa sana la kuogelea, wanawake warembo, majumba ya starehe, migahawa, magari, minazi na starehe za kuotea tu paukwa pakawa. Jaribu kulinganisha ufukwe huu na Coco Beach , Dar es Salaam. Anzia pale kilima kinachoelekea barabara ya Chake Chake ongoza hadi Kivukoni penye wauza samaki na boti linalovusha watu. Sema badala ya hospitali ya Ocean Road na Ikulu sasa weka majumba hayo niliyozungumzia ya starehe na sehemu ndefu  sana maridadi za kufanya mazoezi na kuogelea.
Watalii walipahusudu. Na hii si yote- ufukwe  wa Copacabana umeunganika na  Ipanema na Leblon, bichi nyingine mashuhuri za jiji. Wabrazili husema Mwenyezi Mungu aliuumba ulimwengu mzima kwa siku sita, ile ya saba akakaa kitako akikamilisha Rio De Janeiro peke yake. Nilikua na tabia ya kwenda kuogelea  na kufanya mazoezi pale mara mbili tatu kwa juma.

ALLEGED MAASAI EVICTION AFFECTING TANZANIAN INTERNATIONAL IMAGE






I recall while in secondary at Ilboru, Arusha where numbers of Maasai children was high, fights among us boys due to teasing were frequent. Mostly they were resolved verbally, but at times ended in dramatic formal duels. When one of these clashes occurred we would cluster around a circle to watch. One of the memorable ones was between a Hehe teenager and a Maasai. Hehe boys were few at Ilboru as they were from a far away Iringa region while Maasai being the majority tended to be cocky and proud. You did not mess with Maasai (or Waarusha), this was their homeland. The word for non- Maasai person “Ol Meeki” was freely used (just like we Chaggas had “Kyasaka” for a similar description).
On this late afternoon the Hehe warrior, unsmiling and valiant faced his adversary supported by a frenzied and partisan crowd. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

TATIZO KUBWA LA VIRUSI SUGU LEO LIMETOKANA NA UTOAJI DAWA KALI KIHOLELA...


Enzi hizo hatukua na UKIMWI.
Magonjwa ya zinaa hayakuua mtu. Dalili yake ilikuwa kuwashwa na kujisikia vibaya wakati wa kwenda haja ndogo tu, basi.  Yakikuzidia  unazunguka zunguka mitaani unanunua dawa  rangi ya chungwa na manjano- kidonge cha “tetracylene”- aghali ndiyo; lakini kinamaliza kabisa tatizo.
Baadaye miaka ya Themanini UKIMWI ukatangaza ufalme.
UKIMWI haukuponywa kwa kidonge kama hicho.

 Na hata baada ya miaka thelathini, UKIMWI uliposhaanza kutibika- ( nchi zilizoendelea), haikua kidonge kimoja. Vingi.  Tena bei yake si ya porojo. Sijasikia mtu anayeweza kuingia tu sehemu akanunua msururu wa vidonge vya kutibu UKIMWI. Tiba hii ilihimili lakini haijaondoa kirusi, abadan.

WATU WEUSI TWAKUMBUSHWA MADHARA YA ULAJI CHUMVI NYINGI



Ladha ni kitu muhimu sana.

Siku moja nilikuwa nimealikwa karamu fulani kubwa- mwenyeji ni Mzungu aliyemwoa bibi wa Kiafrika. Kufumba na kufumbua dada mmoja, (sikumbuki taifa lake, lakini alikuwa Mwafrika)-hakuwa na raha hata kidogo na misosi. Kawaida ukialikwa hizi karamu za kimataifa, si mara zote utakuta vyakula vya kwenu; ulivyozoea. Mathalan, Wazungu wanavyokula ni tofauti sana na sisi. Hutumia vitu ambavyo si mazoea yetu mfano jibini (chizi), kachumbari nzito (“mayonnaise”) yenye mayai, siki, mafuta, malai (“cream”), nk. Au kuna suala la nyama.

Siku hizi idadi ya wasiopenda nyama jamii zilizoendelea imekua kubwa kiasi ambacho ukihudhuria mikutano au makongamano ya kimataifa unaulizwa (kabla) je mlaji nyama au hapana.Basi dada hakua na raha.Meza zilijazana vyakula vya wanga, mboga, nyama na protini. Dada alilalamika ladha.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

USONGO WANGU NA KISWANGLISHI : WATANZANIA HATUJAKOMAA KILUGHA-2


Kusoma na kutukuza fasihi  ya Kiswahili Fasaha kupitia vitabu na sinema  ndiyo njia pekee itakayoendeleza na kuimarisha lugha yetu...

Wiki jana tuliangalia namna ambavyo Kiswahili kimekua, kikazoa na kuburuta misamiati  ya lugha za Kiarabu, Kiingereza, Kiajemi, Kireno, Kihindi nk. Hapo hapo kanuni zake za kisarufi (“grammar”) ni za Kibantu. Ina maana Kiswahili ni lugha ya Kiafrika, inayojitosheleza.
Kukua kwa “Kiswanglish” si jambo baya. Tatizo hili si geni barani Afrika.Wala si geni ndani ya baadhi lugha mbalimbali ulimwenguni. Waspanyola wakazi wa Marekani wameunda “Spanglish”- lugha ya mitaani inayotumiwa  na walowezi waliozaliwa kule walio baina ya utamaduni wa Kimarekani na Kilatina. Tofauti ni kwamba Walatina huwalea wanao kufuata mila zao. Si kama Waafrika wengi wanaokulia Majuu- hawasisitizi wanao huku Uzunguni kuzijua mila na lugha zao. Wanaona nishai na aibu... kwamba lazima wafanane na wenyeji.
Amina Waziri ...mjukuu wa Shaaban Robert ambaye ni mmoja wa waalimu wakubwa wa Kiswahili Ughaibuni akiongea nami mwaka 2008 kuhusu haja ya kutukuza kumbukumbu ya babu yake na kuendeleza lugha hii muhimu. Picha na F Macha

Wiki jana tuliangalia namna Kenya ilivyoanza lugha ya Shenge, miaka 20 iliyopita. Lugha hii ilichanua kutokana na baadhi ya Wakenya-hasa mjini Nairobi- ambao ni wazungumzaji wazuri wa Kiingereza kuwa dhaifu katika msamiati wa Kiswahili na kuamua kuchanganya changanya. Lakini haina maana walikua duni lugha ya Kiingereza. Sisi tunaingiza Kiingereza katika Kiswahili- lakini tunasutwa (hasa na majirani wetu wa Kenya na Uganda) tulivyo wabovu kwa Kiingereza. Kabla ya kuendelea – hebu tuangalie nchi nyingine ya Kiafrika zenye mtindo wa kupikicha pikicha lugha kama Kenya.

CHINUA ACHEBE’S TREMENDOUS CONTRIBUTION TO AFRICAN LITERACY

Chinua Achebe speaking at SOAS London in 2008 to commemorate 50 years of publication of Things Fall Apart. Pic by F Macha...

Overseas based Africans do all sorts of jobs. What they qualified at institutions of higher education is often thrown out of the window for mundane jobs to support families and a life that is as tough as this March’s freezing weather, rain and snow plus shocking news of death. Anglo-European news broadcasts were mum, but stations that beam African news (Al Jazeera, French TV 5, Africa Channel etc) did mourn the famous, esteemed Nigerian writer’s demise, last Thursday.  
I was chatting to a Tanzanian musician who once worked at a five star London hotel. 
“The place received interesting visitors; one night boooom! In strolled two prominent African writers. They were attending a big conference. Later we sat for a long time talking.  I said to myself, Woow! I am sitting with celebrities.”
One was the 1986 Nobel Prize For Literature winner, Wole Soyinka; first African to scoop the coveted award since French writer Sully Prudhomme netted it in 1901.
“I could not believe I was chatting to Soyinka and fellow Nigerian legend, Chinua Achebe. Achebe said he gets ideas to write out of the blue, gifted by God.  Because I had told him I am a musician -and this is a side job I do to pay bills- he said the way I compose songs is the same way a writer works.”

Sunday, 24 March 2013

USONGO WANGU NA KISWANGLISHI : WATANZANIA HATUJAKOMAA KILUGHA- 1


Karibuni, Baraza la Waganga Uingereza lilipitisha sera ya kutomruhusu daktari wa kigeni kufanya kazi bila kufuzu mtihani wa Kiingereza fasaha. Ina maana ili kutibu wagonjwa lazima uimanye lugha ya wenyeji vizuri. Wenyeji wanathamini sana lugha yao mama- bila kuichanganya nganya na kuibandika  bandika viraka.
Mwandishi maarufu wa Kiswahili fasaha, Adam Shafi akiwa Uingereza mwaka 2007. 
Picha na F. Macha

Msemaji wa Baraza hilo alipohojiwa na runinga ya “Sky” alijitoa mwenyewe kama mfano:
“Nilisoma Kifaransa nikiwa sekondari. Ninaweza kuongea Kifaransa cha kuombea maji. Ila nilipofanya kazi kwao  kama mganga nlikua na matatizo maana sikuyajua maneno au misemo ya taaluma ya uganga ipasavyo. Ikabidi niende kozi. Ni hatari sana kutibu watu kama unaboronga lugha.”
Akiwa na maana kujua lugha juu juu au sawasawa ni mambo mawili tofauti. Wenzetu waliondelea wanathamini sana kufahamu lugha sawasawa badala ya kubabaisha.
Nimetathmini sera hiyo ya Waingereza ili kuongelea suala la Ki-Swanglish ambacho kinaendelea kuzaa chawa Tanzania. Miezi michache iliyopita nilikua kwenye kikao na kundi la Wabongo wenzangu hapa Ulaya, mzalendo mmoja akauliza: “ Bwana Macha hapendi sana kuchanganya changanya maneno ya Kiingereza na Kiswahili.”
Kitabu kipya cha Adam Shafi- kinachoendeleza Kiswahili Fasaha. Picha toka Blog la KiSwahili Afrika Mashariki

Friday, 22 March 2013

RESISTANT BUGS AND THE FUTURE OF ANTI-BIOTICS

Professor Dame Sally Davies is one of UK’s most distinguished medical professionals. She is England’s Chief Medical Officer and was Director General of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and National Health Service. Actively immersed in the business of disease and hospitals since 1972 when she qualified as a medical doctor in Birmingham, the 63 year old Professor is also a “dame” which is the feminine equivalent to “sir”; titles given for highest services in this Queen’s nation.


 Apart from numerous ranks, Professor Dame Davies (pictured in 2011) has been engaged in research for sickle cell disease where red blood vessels assume an abnormal, rigid bent shape and shorten lives. Majority of affected are blacks and people from sub tropical, Saharan area, or where Malaria is common.  Listing her brilliant credentials and activities here will reduce this column to some biographical data which many in East Africa may find irrelevant; but, here comes the reason.
Two weeks ago, I caught the professor giving a very stern caution on television regarding the state of the health service today.

Friday, 15 March 2013

AS UK AID IS RESTRICTED, WAZUNGU GET WARY OF AFRICA


We all know fungi. They grow out of soil, plants or decaying organisms; when they develop in our bodies we call them parasites.  Fungus can be a symbolic way of describing what is going on around our beloved continent today.

I was watching African news via the French international channel – TV 5- beaming last weekend’s slaughter of hostages in Nigeria by Ansaru. A French terrorism expert was asked whether Africa is too risky to work for foreigners.
Without flinching the expert said yes, certainly, some regions are getting dangerous.
 Later I listened to a Nigerian guy on a London street, who said he was  Igbo.  Alongside Yorubas and Hausas, Igbos are considered the main tribes of this very interesting West African nation.
“You Tanzanians,” the soft spoken, articulate man started, “supported us during the Biafra war. We shall never forget that. Nyerere’s type of leadership is rare these days. General Ojukwu died around a year ago. Did you know that?” His eyes were shining.

For those too young to remember (I was only twelve) Lieutenant Chukwuemeka Ojukwu (pictured above) led the region of predominantly Igbo people in East Nigeria to form Biafra in 1967. A three year civil war, followed.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

BACKWARDNESS, POVERTY, LAZINESS AND LACK OF READING...

Are you sentimental?
Are you one of those people who grieve about the good old days? This would be measured in terms of age. The older you are, the bitter and bigger the sentiment. What about if you are eighteen years old, or twenty five? Maybe eighty. Or approaching sixty like me? I am not one of those people who think past times were better - because life has always been the same; same old problems and joys, governments in crisis and doom mongers predicting end of life. So I won’t weep over history. It’s like shedding crocodile tears.
Sunset on waters of the west Tanzania. Pic by Revo Meza...


According to myths, the idiom, shedding crocodile tears, means the crafty, dangerous reptiles weep in order to trick their victims...  Idioms are the salt and sugar of any given language. I think the fantastic great past is nothing more than crocodile tears for what is going on in the present.  Having washed my hands, let us rock and rewind the clock for a few seconds and picture 1960s and 1970s Tanzania.
Reading was very fashionable.

As a teenager around 1967 to 1975 it was common for us to have a novel in the pocket and compete and show off what you have been reading. Back then we wiped off a lot of novels.

MIND OVER MATTER, SWIMMING AND FUNDING HEALTHY ACTIVITIES...


London has been extremely cold during the past few weeks. Sometimes the weather bites like a hyena’s teeth wading through your bones. Part of the upsurge of this abnormal ice cold madness is the winds. It is no surprise hearing a tornado swept through Kigali, Rwanda a few days ago. Our earth has freaky weather moods.  TV climate experts said gales drifting from the Arctic Circle, Iceland and Siberia brought this very cold London spell.
Tanzanian mountain climber, Wilfred Moshi was the third African to conquer the tough gruelling Mount Everest in May 2012. A perfect  example of mind winning over matter. Pic courtesy of Wilfred Moshi Blog....

 Many years ago I was walking through a chilly, snow filled Copenhagen after a late night gig.  I passed through Istedgade, an interesting part of the city. Nowadays Istedgade is slightly different. I saw a group of men chattering and drinking.  They did not look Danish.
Istedgade. 
Pic courtsey of Panoramio...

A few days later I strolled through the same area with a Tanzanian friend who was living in Copenhagen for a long time.
“Who are those people?” I wondered.
“Eskimos,” he said quietly.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

KANGAS, MUSIC AND SWAHILI FLAVOUR: TANZANIA SHINES AT LONDON FASHION WEEK


Anna Lukindo ( "Anna Luks")Christine Mhando ( "Chichia London"), Jacquilene Kibacha ("Heart 365"). Three stars who rock this week and not just by smiles but sheer sweat, nerve, brains and talent.

They say it’s been on high gears, since 1984 - twice a year- Milan, Paris, New York and here in London- February and September- promoting and showcasing skills, business and innovation. Whenever this gig happens, the paparazzi, modelling enthusiasts, fashionistas- are there to chronicle one of the best events in popular global culture. Yup. 

 London International Fashion Week is among four best on earth. And since last Friday, Tanzania participated- for the first time ever.  I was witness. Not as a mere reporter and blogger ready to record the news, but also as a musician playing at our London Embassy where the reception was held and rejoiced. As I held my guitar and strummed melodic strings –a realisation surfaced that this was indeed a national and international celebration.

GAY MARRIAGE, HORSE MEAT AND DIFFERENT CULTURES...


Continuous, repetitive media broadcasts may help measure the culture, psychology and thinking of a country. Last week major news here in London was about gay marriage and horse meat. Traditionally, homosexuality is a taboo subject - a minority’s private life style- uninvolved in the endless natural reproduction of human species.  Gay marriage discussions and debates dominated the UK government with such intensity that a vote was made in parliament.  400 votes were won against 175 and so legislation to allow same sex marriage was victorious by 225 seats.

 Of those openly against gay marriage, Lord David Stoddart of Swindon(pictured), independent Labour peer (member of the nobility), said it was “completely and utterly unnecessary” for the Prime Minister to introduce gay marriage while the country faces unresolved economic problems. “Marriage was devised a long time ago to protect women and children-to tie the male to the family so that the children could be brought up and protected by two loving parents. That does not really apply in the case of homosexuals,” Lord Stoddart was quoted saying. 
Others questioned why an issue that only affects one percent of the population should loom over political decisions with such intense, ferocity.

Friday, 8 February 2013

NEW UK ENVOY LOOKING FORWARD TO WORK WITH FRIENDLY TANZANIANS


ALL PICS BY URBAN PULSE...

It was a cold evening in London; as chilly as can be during this blistering winter; but here she was smiling and raising a toast to Tanzania. In a few weeks she will not only be breathing the hot air of Dar es Salaam, she will be representing her country in the equatorial towns Tanzania: land of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Sunshine and Zanzibar.
To Dianna Melrose (pictured, addressing the London dinner), being an envoy in warm tropics is nothing new; she was UK ambassador to Cuba from 2008 to 2012; in fact she was born in Zimbabwe (told me she respected Mwalimu Nyerere’s stand against the racism of those years) went to school in the UK studying languages at King’s College where she graduated with Honours in Spanish and French. Translating job evolved to a stint with British Council then Oxfam the international organisation slogging away in approximately 90 countries. This was in 1980, a minor but significant detail in a chain of exciting vocations and positions.
Ambassador Melrose signs the visitors book watched by her hostess, Mrs Joyce Kallaghe last week. 

In her globe trotting life Ambassador Melrose has been involved in all manner of progress and nation building. Most times as a team’s leader- policy head, and so on...You get the picture? Who better suited to work in far unknown Tanzania?
“Lucky me,” she confessed at the end of her humbling speech, during a small dinner hosted by our man in London, His Excellency Peter Kallaghe and his equally regal wife, Joyce. The word “luck” was uttered in a context. Rather than thinking she is going to a continent of problems (wild Africa, crammed with elephant poachers, religious extremists, starving children, you see what I am getting at?)  She is thinking positively. High Commissioner Kallaghe had a good word to describe the sentiment. Challenges. Tanzania and the continent “shall present challenges.” But taking into account this is a lady of many experiences- Dianna regards the new posting as an opportunity.
Ambassador Melrose flanked by HE Peter Kallaghe. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

CALL FOR TANZANIAN BLOGGERS TO BE ORIGINAL AND INVENTIVE


The blogging phenomenon kicked off in late 1990s- but in Tanzania was picked up by news reporter Ndesanjo Macha -a decade ago.  As Ndesanjo (pictured below) campaigned tirelessly for Swahili blogging, running workshops and attending world wide conferences while maintaining hold on his Jikomboe blog very few understood the meaning of the word, let alone using the internet as feverishly as today. Those days, Ndesanjo confessed he was blogging for love arguing this was the future of global communication.
Other local bloggers started getting noticed after the vicious murder of a Tanzanian couple  in the USA  September 2006. Suddenly we were dependant on Michuzi and internet Radio Butiama to get information that was not readily available on mainstream media.  I personally began blogging in 2007.
How things have changed since!

Ndesanjo’s Jikomboe site is no more; he is currently, leading contributor (with over 4,200 posts) of the interactive Global Voices.  Last year he was named “Africa blogger of the year.”
Meanwhile, Tanzanian bloggers are flourishing with diverse themes, as well as social networking sites such as the influential Jamii Forums, created in 2006. Some are  educational –e.g.  Award winning Mwanamke Na Nyumba (openly discusses sexual problems) and Al Hidaaya analyse different aspects of the Quran.
Sites  have mushroomed in hundreds. And within this ascent are big bucks.   Whispers that certain bloggers are earning as much as ten thousand dollars a week might be exaggerated but companies are using blogs to reach their markets. This has made Tanzanian blogs (specifically) hard to scroll through as pages are crammed with massive advertisements.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

ANTI POACHING CRUSADER CAMPAIGNING FOR NATURAL SPECIES

Last week world wide media reports focussed on the sinister slaughter of twelve elephants inside a Kenyan game reserve. On Monday, the Kenyan government announced that the anti-poaching lobby is now a matter of national security. These events and killings, a Kenyan spokesman was quoted telling CNN, are not restricted to animals.  Rangers are being murdered too. Ruthless poachers are keen “to fuel appetites of Asian clients especially in Thailand and China.”
Most East African readers have certainly heard about this. What matters, however, are reactions and what should be done.

Is there any need for the average African living in this so- called wild continent to be concerned that animals are being for pesa? Aren’t we supposed to love meat? Wild meat is especially more delicious than domesticated cows, goats, chicken etc. One guinea fowl (“Kanga” in Swahili)-which I find tastier than chicken or duck- costs around 10,000 T-shillings in a London supermarket, for example.
I am being sarcastic of course.
Slaughtered elephants, pic by Michael Nichols courtsey of Advocate Habitat Blog...

There are two strands here.
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

IS MR MICHELIN REALLY PUSHING A PRAM AND WHY?


So... what is Michelin?
 Michelin is one of the most known tyre brands launched in France towards the end of the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, Michelin’s revenue was worth 17.89 billion Euros three years ago. Alongside Bridgestone (created in Japan in 1931) the two are the biggest manufacturers of this commodity in the world.

I have always found the image of Michelin funny. A tough smiling guy with rubbery valleys of muscles.  For the business and advertising student a remarkable lesson to humorous branding. No wonder Michelin tyres have been around since 1888. 
So... I was in the Gym and saw this chap who reminds me of Mr Michelin. There are all sorts of body builders. Some aim to be like legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured), winner of numerous international trophies including Mr Olympia in the 1970’s.

 By the way it is not true he was just muscles and no brains. Otherwise how would Mr Schwarzenegger become such a highly paid Hollywood actor and eventual Governor of California? And how would he win votes with a foreign accent (Austrian- German) in the USA? You tell me.
 Lifting weights and taking whatever stuff that accentuates and builds muscles, is therefore, just one side of the coin. Majority bodybuilders want to feel and look good. Looking good means thinking clever, as we shall see.  Let us agree to call him Josephat.
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Monday, 7 January 2013

AFRICANS AND CARIBBEANS WARNED OF EXCESSIVE SALT INTAKE






The food is excellent; everyone is praising the cook. Our Cameroon hostess is hoping to live in East Africa one day; she has a Kenyan boyfriend.
“Your rice tasted very good,” someone shrills, “what were the ingredients?”
Beaming. “I learnt that from my Swahili teacher.”
“It is Basmati rice, right?”



 “Yeah.
“What ingredients did you use?”
“Coconut and salt.”
At the mention of salt, follows a long discussion regarding dangers of sodium. Actually everything this excellent chef made has excessive salt. The chicken and duck are not only immersed and seasoned with curry, turmeric and garam masala (those great Asiatic spices) but tons of salt.
The beef and lamb are soaking and swimming in a spicy, salty stew.  The salad (meshed in egg mayonnaise, steamed carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cucumber) is God forbid- embroidered if not dripping in salt. Salt is the super star here!  Salt decides piquancy, savour, feel, quality.  Then there is chilli pepper. Pilipili. Or as they say in Spanish: picante, pimiento.
 To damp the extremities of these hot flavours almost everyone across this munching table drinks some kind of liquid: fruit juice, beer, wine, water, tea. This habit of downing spicy and salty food with liquids is so common to most people –that we have come to accept it as “normal.”
 Salt attracts water and liquids- the more you take it the more grief, risk and perils to your blood. 
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Thursday, 3 January 2013

UPSURGE OF ARMED ROBBERIES IN TANZANIA SYMPTOMS OF FUTURE DANGERS


More than twenty years ago I was part of a live band playing music at a club somewhere in South America when a chap sneaked on stage and withdrew a gun.
When I saw a weapon waving at me and at such a close range, I stammered mid sentence which made everyone alarmed. Why has the singer suddenly stopped?
By now it was roughly ten seconds since the chap had found his way to the stage; and no sooner had he exposed his gun and made his presence felt than he grabbed the microphone.


Author in action in1988...pic by legendary photographer, Clori Ferreira

Meantime, three of his mates quickly materialised, armed and equally menacing.
“Everyone get down, or I will shoot Jimmy Cliff here.”
 (Despite the serious danger I found that funny; thieves with humour and bullets at their finger tips...)
Everyone went down, ladies were robbed off their jewellery, men let go their pouches, fear loomed. But mid way, the hotel’s security guards managed to call the police and what followed was a shooting spree. No-one died, a few people were injured, yet unfortunately, the crooks escaped.
Few years later.
Beginning of 1993 I was going to a huge concert in Salvador Bahia, north eastern Brazil. Two well known and respected musicians headlined an outdoor gig. One of them, Gilberto Gill( pictured during the Montreal Jazz Festival of 2008), would later become Minister of Culture.

So we are in a large fully packed bus around four in the afternoon. Passengers of various nationalities including local Brazilians are chatting and happy. We have just driven past the splendid seaside area of Rio Vermelho (Red River) when I notice a group of four suspicious looking young males. Unlike the rest of us none has a female partner. They are closely studying and surveying us. As soon as the bus gains speed, one walks down to the end, he does not sit but  maintains a vigilant  position while his mate stays mid way; the other two take strategic areas-  near the door, and next to the driver.