On page 29 of the mainstream English Tabloid, Daily Mail, September 3rd 2015, was a gruesome photograph that attracted my attention. A skull and pieces of scattered skeletons. Human remains. Well, well, well. Being shown grisly, hideous and gruesome images, these days, is as “normal” as having breakfast. Whether in blogs, You Tube or WhatsApp, we are “officially” desensitised with gory savageness. Nevertheless, the Daily Mail snapshot was macabre for a reason. Not aimed at glorifying human tragedy- like our internet- thanks God, most newspapers still upheld traditional restrain and etiquette in social shock and info.
Sunday, 20 December 2015
Mfano mzuri wa jinsi damu inavyoathiri maumbile na afya yetu ni kama UKIMWI au saratani ya damu (“leukemia”) iliyomuua mwasisi wa taifa, Mwalimu Nyerere, 1999.
Friday, 27 November 2015
It is a cold wet winter afternoon few days after the Paris and Bamako terrorist attacks. As I stroll down a major street in East London, a man is melodically hollering:
“Evening Standard! Evening Standard!”
He hands me a copy of the free daily London newspaper.
Monday, 23 November 2015
I received an SMS from a long time friend in Brazil.
“Boss! Get out of Europe, those fanatics will kill you. It is no longer safe. Come to Brazil...”
I laughed. For two reasons. In Portuguese (the language of Brazil), the word boss is “patrão”; I had thought it is only us in London who use boss.
Wakati kampeni za uchaguzi zikiendelea miezi kadhaa iliyopita, Mtanzania mmoja mkazi London alikuwa na mtazamo tofauti. Mwanamuziki na mcheza sarakasi huyu anaitwa Fab Moses.
“Nyinyi semeni yenu mnayotaka, lakini CCM na Bw John Pombe Magufuli watashinda tu.”
Rais wa Jamhuri ya Tanzania, J P Magufuli. Picha ya Blog la Yinga Boy
Fab Moses si maarufu kwa utabiri bali kwa ucha Mungu wake, upole na ukarimu. Si wale wanaojifaragua au kupiga kelele mbele za watu. Mtaratibu anayejishughulisha na kazi mbalimbali za ajira za uchovu tosha. Chukua mfano siku niliyomtembelea kwake kumfanyia mahojiano haya. Ilibidi miadi ipangwe saa tisa alasiri, maana aliingia kitandani asubuhi hiyo baada ya kazi ya usiku kucha.
Monday, 16 November 2015
A word I did not quite know, until very recently.
I kept hearing politicians saying threshold, threshold, threshold. Threshold this, threshold that.
The word means strip of wood or metal forming the bottom of a doorway. In Swahili, that is “kizingiti”, i.e. kizingiti cha mlango. What fits this article is the second meaning of threshold. A new beginning and era; brink, verge, debut, inception, point, dawn. The start.
According to Thesaurus dictionary, the opposite of threshold is conclusion, death, end, finish, completion.
Friday, 6 November 2015
Gil Scott Heron (kushoto), baada ya onesho lake Jazz Cafe, London. Scott- Heron alifariki akiwa na umri wa 63, mwaka 2011. Picha ya A. Macha , 1999.
Nilikuwa naongea na rafiki yangu mhadhiri; Dk Ikaweba Bunting, anafundisha Marekani...
Tulisononeka kifo cha mshairi maarufu wa mahadhi ya Jazz, marehemu Gil Scott Heron. Bw Scott Heron alikuwa na ujumbe mzito uliotetea maslahi ya wananchi weusi wa Marekani na kuzungumzia matatizo kadhaa ya jamii hiyo ukiwemo utumiaji dawa za kulevya. Alipiga piano na kuandika riwaya na mashairi matamu na makali sana. Ukitaka mfano mzuri hebu tafuta “Pieces of a Man” katika You Tube. Sikiliza sauti yake mshairi anayesemwa kuwa ni baba wa watenzi wa Rapu na Ushairi wenye ujumbe. Fuatilia piano iliyotulia na mdundo wa Blues na Jazz. Kama unahusudu lugha, zingatia namna Kiingereza kinavyotumiwa kumchora na kumhakiki mhusika anayeimbwa. Hayati Gil Scott Heron aliandika riwaya na kufundisha fasihi. Anaomboleza maisha ya mtu huyu aliyeanza na bangi huishia jehanam. Baadaye jamaa anateketea kabisa.
“I saw him go to pieces.
He was always such a good, good man.”
(Nilimtazama akivunjika vipande vipande
Alikuwa mtu mzuri sana...)
Friday, 30 October 2015
Living overseas and switching on mainstream TVs –early this week- the headlines were not Tanzania’s elections but the meat issue. As for international politics of governance, – Sunday October 25th appeared to incorporate elections in over five nations, Ivory Coast, Poland, Argentina, Congo Brazzaville and Tanzania... Speaking of Tanzania, London’s BBC and other major channels hardly mentioned her on Sunday.
It was Al Jazeera.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
If you are reading this...
If you are reading this you are either highly educated; therefore, speak English fluently. You are among the minority ten percent in Africa, who crossed the line. It means you might have a car, domestic helps, money in the bank, a relatively good life. You might even possess a jutting out tummy.
Thursday, 15 October 2015
It was not a huge place.
Nor well known.
London has mega art spaces like Tate Modern where 240 seat auditorium and nine passenger lifts to numerous floors are normal. Turbine Hall for instance entertains at least 1,500 heads. This was nothing like that. Nevertheless, it opened eyes to the little known country of Tanzania overseas.
Pictures always tell a story and these ones really did remarkably well. The venue was The Chapel, St Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green, East London. You can easily find St Margaret’s House online. Oh, lord it was ordinary, simple and beautiful. Simple, because it was individual effort of three young Europeans who had worked briefly on a small rural project in Mbeya.
Hold a sec.
Many a foreigner have visited remote parts of the world and grabbed images, which they later brag about to family and friends. “I was here,” “I was there”, “Look at this abandoned dog”, “See that smiling poor boy...” Photographs keep memories.
Viewer checks out the images of Rungwe kids...pic by Amy Read.
Angry drivers? Watch these phrases...
While a passenger in many a car rides in Dar es Salaam I noticed, what annoyed motorists were small Dala-Dala buses. Vipanyas.
Once I was in a ride with a good friend who had lived overseas for decades. He seemed to have found a solution to Dar’s reckless drivers.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Cigarette smoking is not a majority choice of leisure in Africa.
Monday, 10 August 2015
Six years ago, I went for a massage session in the Kinondoni area of Dar es Salaam. I remember the woman masseuse in the parlour asking me if I wanted to “go all the way” or not. By going all the way, it meant having a sexual service. This is how massage is perceived by most. There are two major types of massages.
Healing, clinical and therapeutic massage and erotic massage. The erotic massage sits in the minds of many. That if you are touched –with oils and so on- there must be a sexual conclusion.
Author gives upper body massage on a special mobile chair, to an elderly client during Health Champions Festival in Thamesmead, South London, July 2015. Pic by Yub Mulyasanga
Imagine you are driving a car on a busy, major road.
Apart from several vehicles to the rear and in front, you are equally aware of pedestrians and cyclists on both sides. Carefully observing speed limits, your panorama is spot on; you are in harmony with your surroundings. As time goes on you become distinctly conscious of a particular motorist right behind. You can even tell the colour of his shirt, his facial features and the anxious, restless attitude through your rear view mirror. This is an impatient driver. And edgy, impatient motorists must be noticed (precaution for accidents) as we operate and steer these expensive, dangerous machines.
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Yupo Mwingereza mmoja maarufu sana aliyetimiza miaka 40 mwezi jana.
Huyu jamaa ana kipindi chake katika TV anachodondoshwa mwituni, jangwani au vichaka vya sehemu mbalimbali za dunia na kuachwa. Hukaa bila chochote bali kisu kikali, mfuko mdogo na nguo alizovaa. Kuna wakati aliachwa pori moja la Zambia. Huko alizingirwa na wanyama, mito, chemchemi na nyika tupu. Alilala juu ya mbuyu. Chakula kilikuwa wadudu, nyoka na maji ya mvua. Na hii tabia yake ya kula chochote anachokiona nyikani kiwe buibui, chura, mchwa, asali, nyungunyungu,mbegu, matunda, madafu, majani, panya, fuko au ngiri ina malengo na mafunzo.
Mosi anajaribu kuonesha namna wanadamu tunavyopaswa kujua kuishi (na kumudu) bila kukata tamaa iwapo majanga yakitutokea au hakuna namna. Pili, anasisitiza wanadamu, (hususan Wazungu) tumeichangamkia teknolojia tukapoteza ubunifu, tukawa wavivu na waoga wa mazingira. Tatu, huelekeza kutokata tamaa, kujitegemea na kuwa wajanja pale shida yeyote inapojitokeza. Zamani nikiwa jeshi la kujenga taifa (JKT) tulifundishwa ujuzi huu uliobatizwa nahau : “Ujanja wa Porini”...
Jina la huyu “mbabe” anayezidi kupendwa na hasa watoto na vijana ni Bear Gryllis.
Ujanani, Bear Gryllis (pichani ) alikuwa askari wa kikosi maalum cha Uingereza.
Bear Gryllis. Picha ya Wikipedia
Mwafrika mwenzangu umegundua nini jipya miaka ya karibuni?
Ukichunguza utaona maradhi yaliyokuwa yakiwang’ong’a wazee, leo yanaua vijana. Ugonjwa wa moyo, utasa, mapafu dhaifu, uume tata, uchovu kila mara bila sababu, kisukari, chafya upitapo kwenye vumbi, magari au moshi wa sigara; kiharusi, nk. Maumbile na mazingira yana sheria kali sana. Tusipoyaheshimu hutufunza adabu. Je, kweli tunayaona? Maana sikio la kufa halisikii dawa...
Jumapili iliyopita wanawake watatu wa Kihabeshi walishinda mbio za Marathon hapa London. Zilishirikisha wakimbiaji 38,000, wengi wananchi wa kawaida ( wasio wanariadha wa kulipwa); mataifa mbalimbali. Baada ya ushindi “ wanariadha hawa wenye fahari” walipeperusha bendera rangi kijani, manjano na nyekundu. Bendera hii ya Ethiopia iliyosanifiwa mwaka 1897 imekuwa kielelezo maarufu cha Umoja wa Waafrika na watu weusi duniani zaidi ya miaka mia moja sasa. Wekundu ni nguvu na imani, kijani ardhi na manjano, kanisa. Tufasili hili kifupi.
Mwanamuziki maarufu wa Reggae kutoka Ivory Coast, Alpha Blondy. Picha ya Reggae Ville.
Sunday, 26 April 2015
According to logic, it should not be happening. Why would a people who live so close to nature be scared? After all one of the first statements you hear outside the hot continent might be:
“Are you Africans still living in jungle huts?”
“I was in Africa. I really loved the lions, zebras and sunsets.”
Animals, poverty and sunshine are standard image of Africa, worldwide. Most international television programs create these superb wild Africa documentaries to cement the idea.
Wednesday, 15 April 2015
If you have ever been to Dar es Salaam; harbour of peace and commercial city of Tanzania; it might be worth to be reminded of food, history and drink. During the 1970’s the area surrounding the Askari Monument on Independence Avenue (Samora Avenue today) had three appealing cafes. Luckily, Askari Monument itself (historic and symbolic), is still present and relevant. After celebrating a hundred years since the Great War of 1914 last year, this monument should be mentioned, even if in passing.
Askari Monument in 2011, pic by Z Macha
Askari Monument in 2011, pic by Z Macha
As Easter 2015 arrive, two episodes to reflect. Fast moving Europe.
Quarter of the year gone. One person’s dustbin is another’s treasure. I am not sure if this old English idiom fits what I am about to present here but... let us not compare tragedies. We may discuss their implications. Tears are a reflection of pain; sorrow knows no definition.
Last week a terrible aeroplane accident was reported on the Alps in France...150 travellers, including school children and babies perished.
Thursday, 2 April 2015
During the mid-1980s African clubs across the world suddenly burst with unusual energy. New music shall always be exciting, but Alfa Blondy blasted into our lives like a tsunami.
I remember one night around 1985; I was at a joint called the Afro Club in Copenhagen.
For three weeks, London’s BBC 4 presented a gripping thriller from Israel. This is rare. Most TV films tend to be USA imports. On the top list, tick: “Sopranos” (about the Italian Mafia), “24” (CIA super hero), “Wire” (drugs, surveillance and crime); to cite a few. “Homeland” the latest most popular series is also from the USA but is based on “Prisoners of War” by award winning Israeli producer and screenwriter, Gideon Raff.
“Hostages” is a brilliant tale of a family held captive by four ruthless gunners. Also known as “Bnei Aruba” in Hebrew...the programme is unique...
Mti alionyongewa Mangi Meli Makindara wa Old Moshi mwaka 1892. Wakoloni wa Kijerumani waliua viongozi wengi. Mfano mzuri wa kumbukumbu toka Blog la Xanadu.
Lipo tangazo linalorudiwa takriban kila kituo cha runinga huku Uzunguni, siku za karibuni. Tangazo humwonyesha mtoto mdogo wa kike, mweusi kama mpingo; mzuri ajabu, macho maangavu na uso uliotulia. Mwafrika. Watoto ni malaika, wahenga walisema. Na kweli wajihi wa msichana huyu wa Kimatumbi ni mkono wa Mungu. Namkisia ana miaka miwili au mitatu.
“Mafanikio maishani yahitaji mawili; kutojua na kujiamini,” aliandika mtunzi maarufu wa riwaya, Mark Twain. Zamani shuleni tulisoma vitabu vya Mark Twain vinavyofundishia Kiingereza ulimwengu mzima. Kati ya riwaya ya sifa na sambusa ni The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mashuhuri sana. Kisa chenye kejeli na utani kuhusu ubaguzi wa rangi. Nukuu, elimu na hekima za Mmarekani huyu aliyezaliwa mwaka 1835 akafariki 1910, (akatajirika kutokana na fasihi) hunyofolewa sana na wengi. Wanadamu tunapenda kujifunza kwa wenzetu waliofanikiwa kitaaluma na kimasilahi.
Hebu tuikague nukuu hii kusaidia maongezi ya leo. Kutojua kwaweza kuwa ujinga na Mwalimu Nyerere aliwahi kufafanua ifuatavyo...
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Whenever our political leaders fly overseas there are those very keen to meet and hear them. Earnestly. A second group prefers keeping grievances secret and carry on “boxing” as the Swahili slang goes. Boxing (kupiga Boksi) is a decade long jargon that means sweating it out in foreign lands. They might read and watch the news but keep on working. The third type has detached itself. Totally. Suspicious, cynical and distrustful, for this lot, political visitors resemble aliens from another planet. These, would only turn to embassies when there is an urgency e.g. death, visa issues, etc. They are like those citizens who never vote, read newspapers or watch television.
Peter Kallaghe, Deputy High Commissioner, Msafiri Marwa and UK- Tanzania Business Group chairman, Mr Kam Khaki, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industries, Ms Janet Mbene...speaks in London. Pic by Rashid Dilunga
Saturday, 21 February 2015
President Jakaya Kikwete with Mkwawa's recent 14 year old Mkwawa heir to the Hehe throne. A family tie with strong links to Tanzania's history. Pic by Michuzi.
Remembering our ancestors by performing regular rituals was common practise in many world traditions. Some of these rituals were later “dismissed” or forgotten as Middle East religions took over. Non Christians were called Pagans or Infidels (un baptised sinners); while non Muslims were Heretics or Kafirs; and non Jewish, Gentiles. These rituals were the core of family, tribe, values and customs.
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Scattered feathers in my garden bothered me.
They had not been around when I went to bed the night before; which was late. Three o’clock. Puzzling. Through the kitchen window I noticed fresh blood; still clear like when you accidentally spill any red liquid. Wine. Ink. Juice. I opened the door to explore. Perhaps there might be a wounded creature. Staggering. Many smaller, fresh feathers, white and grey, laid by the door step. Soft like cotton wool. A wing with a slightly broken bone laid by the corner, close to the wooden wall separating my neighbour’s house. It was troubling. I was curious. How did the pigeon get killed? Foxes? But how would a fox kill a pigeon? Surely the bird could have flown off. No. This was a bigger bird. Big birds of prey: pelicans and seagulls that attack pigeons across London.
It brought childhood memories, growing on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro; witnessing hawks and falcons diving in to catch terrified chicken. My mother used to dislike falcons. Mwewe. Chickens would shriek and warn each other. Warning, worrying and terror is the life of birds.
On this very same day as I sat, sipping tea, I observed a man with a determined expression on TV speaking to journalists in French. I had not seen him since 2007. His son had been found dead in a Paris hotel. Allegedly, asphyxiated to death. Death. King of all horrible deeds.
Brahim Deby, 27 year old son of Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno (pictured above) was allegedly murdered by a fire extinguisher. I recall watching the news on the French channel seven years ago. Now President Idriss Deby was on the news again, nonetheless, with a different message. Chad is rarely on the news.
“We shall show that Africa is capable...” President Idriss was saying. Fresh hope for what is going on in Northern Nigeria. No other leader has recently spoken with such confidence since Boko Haram began murdering citizens in September 2010.
Sunday, 1 February 2015
When I was a kid there was a funny, dirty popular jingle. A naughty song about bad wind, or in impolite, raw English, farting. Allegedly composed on the East African coast where Swahili lullabies developed and creativity blossomed. Swahili of Taarab, fun, coconuts, mischief, music and fish.author...
Today we take Kiswahili for granted, but 45 to 60 years ago, non fluent Swahili speakers, from upper regions and highlands were often teased. The bad wind song was an example of such inter-territorial arrogance and brilliance. Please look closely at the lyrics. Aren’t they meaningless except for the last Swahili word...?
“Ana ana do
As time moved, folks added more lines. Normally, the tune was chanted after a smell of bad wind had been detected. In their innocent fashion, children are allowed to be silly and playful. So while everyone waved hands close to their noses, someone would start singing and wagging a finger at everyone present. Each word will go to the next person until Kajamba was finalised. If you happened to be the one at that end of the round, laughter and jeer would wash your face, even if you were not the culprit. Such unfair embarrassment contributed to folks adding more lines to extend the playful ordeal.
“Ushuzi unanuka! Atatandikwa! Tena Saana...”
Saturday, 17 January 2015
“His music makes you feel pure joy,” the English lady reflects with sparkling teeth and a smile bright enough to light the semi darkness of Rich Mix, East London. This beautiful club always showcases excellent music from across the globe.... As we speak, couples and singles are close to the stage, gyrating hips and clapping. Men and women dancing further left are trying a Maasai jump, recreation. Minutes later, everyone is waving and dancing and swinging to the Mandela dance, yet another Saidi Kanda creation. Young and old cheer ecstatically while filming on their phones. Electric atmosphere. That English dame with a sparkle was right. Africa is not just misery, guns and Ebola...
Saidi Kanda, Tanzanian musician, is on fire.
Saidi Jumanne Kanda (with Swahili singer, Fab Moses) in action last Sunday, at Rich Mix.