Friday, 8 February 2013



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. 

 What else did she say?
“I feel very priveleged. The Tanzanians I have met have been so friendly and so welcoming. Such kind and generous people that I know I am going to have a wonderful time. I know that my compatriots who have spent time in Tanzania  seem to have left with a deep love that I have not found  with other British people who have lived in other countries.”

 There was delicious Tanzanian food (e.g. ubwabwa and mtori) and the decor around the Ambassador’s residence these days is 90 percent made in Tanzania. Tinga- Tinga paintings, kanga fabrics with those legendary Swahili proverbs around the dining table. Add the batik and vitenge won by one of the cooks and Mama Balozi Joyce Kallaghe wonder when Ambassador Melrose revealed that she has been on a crash program learning Swahili – a seasoned linguist she is- the tension was as upbeat as it was diplomatic. Diplomats tend to be very skilful in appearances and representation. And these days being a diplomat in Africa means more than visiting game parks to ogle lions or swim at Jangwani, Mombasa and Zanzibar beaches.
Is it true what they say that Africa could become a future Afghanistan? The burning fires of the Sahel, Somalia and Mali are making concerned citizens world-wide, nervous.
 “Diplomacy” wrote British career attach√©, Harold Nicolson (who died in 1968), “is neither the invention nor the pastime of some particular political system, but an essential element in any reasonable relation between man and man and between nation and nation.”
The work of diplomats is to smooth things up. Pour oil in hinges of creaking doors; avoid embarrassment, duck away from misunderstandings, evade conflict- an essential bridge for peace, business and politics.

UK is number one investor in Tanzania. Is it easy to do business in Tanzania? How are British investors faring? Ambassador Melrose cited her predecessor, Ambassador Diane Corner (now assigned to neighbouring Congo DRC) who met President Jakaya Kikwete and was assured that the relations between the two nations are bilateral. “ My work is to strengthen those links” Dianna Melrose told  her fellow diners who included Ambassadors, Nkwelle Ekaney (Cameroon), Ernest Rwamucyo(Rwanda) and former UK envoy to Canada, Antony Carey and wife Claire. 

Ron Fennel and wife Liz...MBE honoured for services to friendship between UK and Tanzania.

Tanzania’s UK representative of  Standard Chartered Bank , Rweyunga Kazaura, British Tanzania Society members (BTS) Ron Fennel and wife Liz ( recently honoured with MBE for strentgthening ties between UK and Tanzania) editor of BTS’s  Tanzanian Affairs journal, David Brewin and London based Tanzanian businessman and Swift Freight boss, Abubakar Faraji.
 Yes and not forgeting Mr Allen Kuzilwa, second secretary to the High Commission, attached to NGOs and education.
Mrs Joyce Kallaghe with Second Secretary, Allen Kuzilwa...

It might have been a low key gathering, yet two flags were waving and governments of millions of people significantly symbolised and portrayed. We should talk to Ambassador Melrose in two years time, to  catch up with her positive expectations. 2015 will be exciting: elections, new constitution. You know how it is...

-Also published in Citizen Tanzania Friday 8th February, 2013.

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