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Monday, June 30, 2008

Ufisadi ni Siri ya Serikali?

Mvutano mkali kati ya Naibu Kiongozi wa Upinzani Bungeni, Dk. Wilbroad Slaa, na Waziri wa Utawala Bora, Philip Marmo, unazidi kupamba moto. Hoja ya Marmo ni kuwa Slaa anakiuka taratibu na Kisheria kwa kuwa na nyaraka za siri za Serikali. Kwa upande wake, Slaa anasema Marmo ndio anakiuka sheria kwa kuficha nyaraka za kifisadi.

Mgongano wa hoja zao unadhihirisha kuwa haki ya ya Kikatiba ya wananchi kupata taarifa muhimu zinazohusu masuala muhimu kama ilivyoainishwa katika Ibara ya 18 bado ina tafsiri tete. Hii inatokana na ukweli ni vigumu kujenga hoja kuwa Slaa anavunja sheria kwa kuwa hakuna sheria inayosema ufisadi ni siri za Serikali - au ipo?

Mjadala uliozuka kuhusiana na suala hili ni vyema ukaendelea ili kupanua wigo wa uelewa wetu kuhusu haki yetu ya kupata taarifa. Maswali ya kujiuliza ni kuhusu uzito wa Kisheria wa hoja hizi:

"Sisi tulimuonya [Slaa] kuwa asiendelee kuchukua nyaraka bila kufuata utaratibu ili asije kupata matatizo mbeleni. Huwezi kujitetea kuwa umevunja nyumba na kuiba kwa sababu una njaa, kwa hiyo ufisadi isiwe sababu ya kutofuata Sheria za nchi...Dk. Slaa ni Mbunge ambaye anafahamu Sheria na yeye pia ni Mwenyekiti wa Kamati ya Hesabu za Serikali za Mitaa hivyo ni rahisi akafuata taratibu zilizopo na akapata nyaraka anazohitaji kuliko kutumia njia zisizo halali... Sote tunapinga ufisadi lakini lazima tufuate sheria" - Philip Marmo

"Wanataka kunikamata mimi eti kwa kupata nyaraka za Serikali lakini anayestahili kukamatwa ni Waziri Marmo ambaye anaficha wizi na ubadhirifu kwa kisingizio cha siri za Serikali. Mimi nimetoa vielelezo vya wizi, hivi wizi na ubadhirifu vinahusiana vipi na Sheria ya siri za Serikali?`" - Dk. Wilbroad Slaa

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mwekezaji Anapotumia Wanakijiji Kukutisha

Wakati ile kesi dhidi ya wafugaji katika kijiji cha Vilima Vitatu wilayani Babati imesogezwa mpaka 30 Juni 2008, mgogoro huo umechukua sura mpya baada ya 'mwakilishi' wa mwekezaji, Un Lodge En Afrique (ULEA), kutoa kitisho cha aina yake. Inasemekana Mhandisi huyo wa Kifaransa anayesimamia ujenzi wa 'loji' ya kitalii alitoa kitisho hicho kwa mmoja wa wanasheria wanaofuatilia kwa karibu mgogoro huo. Tukio hilo lilitokea hivi karibuni wakati mwanasheria huyo alipopita katika eneo husika kuona hali ya wafugaji hao ambao wako katika hatihati ya kuondolewa katika eneo hilo. Mhandisi huyo alinukuliwa akisema:


'"I have private concession on this land, you are not allowed to pass here, I know who you are, you are the lawyer for the Mang'ati. Next time you come here I'l shoot you. I have copied your car number you will see soon, the villagers knows your car and they are waiting'' [Tafsiri: "Nimepewa mamlaka binafsi juu ya ardhi hii, hauruhusiwi kupita hapa, nakujua wewe ni nani, ni yule mwanasheria wa Wamang'ati. Ukija hapa tena nitakupiga risasi. Nimenakili namba ya gari lako na utakiona, wanakijiji wanalijua gari lako na wanasubiria."]

Tukio hili limezua mjadala mkali miongoni mwa wanaharakati wa haki za ardhi. Moja ya maswali wanayojiuliza ni, je, kama tayari kuna vitisho vya aina hii nini kitamzuia mwekezaji asitekeleze makubaliano ya kuwaruhusu wafugaji wachunge mifugo katika eneo hilo la malisho kama watahamisha makazi yao? Swali lingine wanalojiuliza ni, je, wananchi wataruhusiwa kupita katika eneo hilo lililo karibu kabisa na ufukwe wa Ziwa Manyara na ambalo ni moja ya njia za kwenda ziwani? Maswali ya aina hii yanazidi kuibuka katika maeneo mengi yanayoingiliwa na wawekezaji kama vile maeneo yaliyopo pembezoni mwa Ziwa Natron na Ziwa Victoria Nyanza.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fatal Wildlife Attraction

There is something fatally attractive about the wild. Of course I am not talking about the ‘Wild Wild West’ that attracted a number of movie viewers. Here the object, nay subject, of attraction is the so-called African wild.

What make tourists and hunters so attracted to the African wild? What is so special about this attraction that warrants the use of wild discourse to sustain it? Observe, for instance, this welcome note from Tanzania Tourist Board’s brochure ‘Karibu Tanzania 1995’: “With a rich cultural heritage of more than 120 tribes and an abundance of wildlife living in natural habitats, Tanzania today is reputed as the last frontier of the enchanting Africa of the last century.”

In the same year an international hunting company from Germany proclaimed that when it comes to Tanzania “there is no comparable hunting ground in Africa with a similar diversity or number of species or where such staggering game populations still exist in a wilder, more primitive, and still to a large extent, unspoilt.”

These descriptions explain why the 1990s paved the way for the establishment of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). These WMAs were and are still celebrated as ways out of environmental degradation, extinction of endangered species and human poverty. There is a WMA that even went out of its way to grab 64 percent of village land from a single village.

Curiously, it is the international conservation organisations that have been spearheading the creation of WMAs. In a way some of them have even been involved in demarcating village land for WMAs. Through a colorful billboard one such organization, the African Wildlife Foundation, is even advertising a legitimizing image: “Conserving Wildlife Protecting Land Empowering People.” The positioning of these texts makes one wonder what comes first – people or wildlife?

In case you think these questions smacks of paranoia characterizing contemporary activists, consider this observation that was made way back in 1978 by the travel writer of ‘North of South: An African Journey’: “The obsessive concern with wildlife leads insidiously to the denigration of the human population.” This obsessive concern, I am convinced, is behind the ongoing land dispute between Vilima Vitatu village government and the so-called pastoralists.

I say the so-called pastoralists because it seems there is an entrenched myth that there is a clear demarcation between farmers and pastoralists. The myth informs a somewhat village land use plan which, purportedly, strictly allocated an area in Burunge WMA for pastures. This is strictly in the sense that pastoralists are, supposedly, not allowed to inhabit that area let alone farm in it.
So here we are with a village that has 19, 800 hectors out of which 12, 829.9 hectors are conserved within a WMA. A French investor, Un Afrique En Lodge (ULEA), is welcomed to build a tourist lodge/camp within this WMA as if s/he is not a threat to the wild. Yet the pastoralists have to raze their shelters, abandon their little farms and let the animals in peace so that tourists can wildy gaze at them.

Just force pastoralists to leave for they have no idea what conservation is all about. Why should it matter that agro-economy tell us that they actually practice one of the most environment-friendly modes of production known as transhumance? Just evict them for, as warriors, they are a threat to wildlife. Who said they kill game for food? Just move them to areas that are better for their livelihoods. How can they have the expertise to know what is good and right for them?

No wonder we end up with packs of stereotypes to justify opening a land bank for investors.Thus we join the bandwagon of what the authors of ‘Conservation, Commerce, and Communities: The Story of Community-Based Wildlife Management Areas in Tanzania’s Northern Tourist Circuit’ refers to as “revaluing landscapes in ways that make them desirable and available to private investors, while keeping key wildlife migration corridors free of human habitation.”

Ironically, we also end up resorting to old gendered colonial myths of ‘virgin lands’ and ‘no man’s land.’ We find ourselves embarking on joint investments ventures with the Cecil Rhodes and the Lord Delameres of today. What, then, will stop the future generations to read about our history in disgust as we read about the history of King Lobengula and Chief Mang'ung'o?

Championing these myths the renowned woman of letters, Elspeth Huxley, thus wrote about a pioneering settler expeditions in Eastern Africa: “They had travelled a thousand miles from Lugh without sight of sound civilization. The stretch through which they had come lay still unclaimed, unwanted, practically unknown.” She thus concluded: “In those days the country was a no-man’s-land, as yet unclaimed by any of the Powers.”

Let us challenge the Elspeth Huxleys of today. Let us insist that here there is no such thing as a ‘no man’s land’ or ‘no woman’s land.’ Let us reclaim our land rights.


Adapted from The Citizen 13 June 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ardhi isiyo ya Mtu - 'No Man's Land'?

Dhana tete inayodai kuwa ardhi fulani, mahali fulani, wakati fulani haina mwenyewe ilitumiwa sana wakati wa enzi za walowezi wa kikoloni kuhalalisha unyang'anyi wa ardhi ya wafugaji na wakulima wa Afrika. Mgogoro wa ardhi unaoendelea katika kijiji cha Vilima Vitatu (pichani) wilayani Babati ambapo mwekezaji amepewa eneo kubwa la ardhi pembezoni mwa Ziwa Manyara ili ajenge kambi/loji ya kitalii unadhihirisha kuwa dhana hii bado inatumiwa kujipatia ardhi nzuri ya jamii hata leo. Dhana, kama ilivyo maneno, huumba. Je, ni dhana za aina gani ambazo jamii yetu inazienzi? Je, dhana hizi zinaumba jamii inayojali haki na usawa au inajenga jamii ya kibeberu na kinyang'anyi?


Monday, June 9, 2008

Turning Tanzania into a Comic Strip

I though that I would no longer have to write about the fever that gripped official and pseudo official quarters of Tanzania lately - the 8th Leon H. Sullivan Summit recently concluded in Arusha but I feel an obligation to express my utter disgust at my Government’s sorry demonstration of its policy of economic diplomacy and economic policy of promoting foreign investments (which sadly tends to be about people coming into Tanzania and taking not about us going out of Tanzania and investing to repatriate the profits back home) on the one hand and foreign aid dependency on the other. Equally my relatives from the US have disappointed me.

Former Ambassador Andrew Young described what he and his entourage succeeded to do at a State Banquet hosted by the Tanzanian President was to turn the affair into an “Old Baptist Prayer Meeting”. Ambassador Young made this comment after the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete broke every ethical and traditional rule of protocol to allow a preacher, a comedian and a politician to respectively interrupt what was supposed to be his official address to delegates and hence to instead run a mnada (auction), to do an impromptu stand up comic performance which, I must add, was not funny and to justify why black Africans should allow black Americans (as we knew them growing up) to also come home and reclaim their ancestral share of African’s wealth.

As a matriot, a nationalist and a people’s activist I hereby register my sense of outrage and concern about President Kikwete’s action. As a citizen of this nation and an African I expect better. It is somehow ironical that following the eruption of various scandals involving dubious energy investment deals and official blunders in the extractive industries implicating his own administration and that which he served under, that the President who has been trying, albeit not too hard, to reassure us that ‘appropriate corrective measures’ will be taken to address that such madudu (mess) don’t happen again would invite guests, two of whom had already spoken before him, to partake in a Presidential address! Certainly this, to me, sounds more like a case of inviting guests into your bedroom instead of at the baraza (verandah) where we from the Coast are accustomed to receive our guests.

Significantly, it baffles me why these three individuals, two who are not strangers to national and international diplomacy, could just not politely decline the President’s blunderous offer because, being folks from the American South, they ought to know better! Perhaps they were overtaken by the generosity and warmth extended by the long lost relative. Or perhaps they were told not to offend local officials lest the whole entourage gets into trouble. Or perhaps they were overcome by compassion and felt they needed to do something about what Leon Sullivan’s daughter, Sister Hope Masters, described as appalling poverty. And it may very well have been a case of vanity.

So, what bugs my conscious? It is but proper to set the scene that led to the events that I described above and that I take particular issue with. The 2008 host of the Leon Sullivan Summit, President Kikwete, held a State Banquet/Gala in honour of Heads of States from other nations attending the Summit and ‘distinguished’ delegates as the announcer on TV informed us that you had to be ‘someone among people” to be invited. During her speech, Sister Hope Masters, the heir to her father’s legacy used the opportunity to bemoan the bumpy ride to an area in Manyara where they had gone earlier to visit a school. She also expressed shock at the educational facilities she encountered - poor or no buildings, no texts books, few teachers etc, a situation she found appallingly unacceptable. In response she challenged the audience to do something about ‘this face’ of the continent.

As protocol would have it other speakers, mainly associated with the Summit, were invited to speak. Ultimately, it was the turn of the host to render his speech but instead of giving a visionary and coherent address to the delegates before him, after a few incomprehensible words, he invited Chris Tucker the comedian and actor to join him at the podium to entertain the crowd with a joke?! Being a performer, Chris Tucker obliged putting up a sad show about how his African brothers expressed their love for him. I know for a fact if someone who was not black made similar nuances about Africans, or African Americans for the matter, it would have attracted uproar. But the Presidential stage had been turned into a comic strip and the rest of us had to smile politely; or recoil in horror at our President’s goof.

Upon Mr. Tucker’s exit the President, after mumbling a few words called on Rev. Jesse Jackson to join him at the Podium. Being a righteous man of God, Rev. Jackson could not let Sister Hope’s laments go unanswered. He quickly invoked people’s sense of compassion and righteousness by leading by example. He and his family pledged USD 1,000 towards the school Sister Hope talked about and proceeded to raise the stakes initially calling on specific people to counter his offer before attracting a long line of people of African descent from the Diaspora who had come home ‘to give’ to the continent. In the end about USD 45,000 were raised or pledged.

Remarking at the result of Rev. Jackson’s fundraising drive President Kikwete confessed being surprised at the quick results and thanked those who generously gave. But I wonder if what Rev. Jesse Jackson did and the President found so commendable is his idea of development funding or bona fide investments? Is this what he will parade to the rest of us as his success in attracting African American investors to Tanzania? Short of being ungrateful at the generous contributions of some of the delegates I wish to remind the President that his wife, Mama Salma (who was conspicuously absent at this state event) just a few months ago raised on the spot over Tsh 51 million (about USD 50,000) from ordinary Tanzanian women and children, not millionaires or billionaires, at the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) 20 years celebration.

Also, The President should confer with the Medical Women’s Association (MEWATA) with regards money they raise from ordinary people including children in their Breast Cancer Campaign. Annually the Telefood drive raises substantial contributions from local businesses and citizens. Why could the President not cite these examples to indicate that this is not a nation of beggars or people who are helpless? Instead he felt it more proper to extend the policy in the mining industry where companies are asked to make development awards to the local government amounting to USD 200, 000 annually and discretionary amounts to local communities while they repatriate hundreds of million if not billions in profits annually and this same government thanks them for giving its population morsels and leftovers. To add salt to injury President Kikwete also called on Ambassador Young, who, if we believe what the US President recently praised as emerging investigative journalism in the country, has been linked to the mining industry as an investor with George Bush Sr., to speak.

Sister Hope Masters, in her appeal, claimed to understand what her father’s mission was about after she visited the village in Manyara and the school. If what I heard from her speech sums up her assessment of what the issues are and what the response of the Summit was to the situation they witnessed was deemed appropriate then she has missed the whole point. I will thus oblige with some insights in the hope that a man of vision as was Rev. Leon Sullivan can be honoured in more fitting ways. Surely, the favoured approach adopted thus far, if done by Europeans or white American would be considered patronizing and if done by neo-liberals is simply called advancing the legacy of economic rape and plunder on the continent of Africa. Importantly, I would not like to see well intentioned African Americans make bad investments in addressing the challenges in the continent.

Foremost, I want Sister Hope to know that what she saw and described to the world is not news for those of us who spend our lives working with communities. Rather, it is the contradictory face of development brought about by ill-conceived development policies such as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) and economic recovery measures and the poor implementation of development budgets and aid on the one hand; an the development industry on the other. Consider the case of Arusha, a popular tourist, development and missionary destination for decades. One should ask how after so many years of interventions there is not much to see in terms of tangible development such that someone who was raised poor like Ms. Masters should find what she saw disturbing.

Simply put, Africa’s problems are more structural and are compounded by bad governance which is not an exclusively African trait but it is exacerbated by the active collusion of our leaders with capitalist and military interests. The Maasai are one of the richest communities in Tanzania, in terms of livestock wealth, yet we assume that they are poor because they don’t live in modern housing and, purportedly, don’t value education. Instead of offering ready-made solutions why not assist Maasai communities to develop their markets for meat, hides, and culture so that they adapt to present market realities instead of being disempowered by the dominant rhetoric about poverty and development.

Moreover, if the Sullivan Summit wants to have an impact in Africa and not just facilitate economic prospecting then I urge organizers to begin reaching out to local communities in meaningful and empowering ways, not like tourists. This will entail leaving the ballroom to identify joint ventures for technical or financial support in local communities on an ongoing basis. Also it will entail having an impact in the whole country not just as an attractive tourist destination. For example, there are many parts of Tanzania, especially in the South and West that are equally spectacular but they remain neglected in official development programmes, as well as by civil society organizations. Rukwa, for instance, has the potential to be the bread basket of the region. Amidst the global food crisis why are friendly investors not heading that way to help local communities make the most of this opportunity?

The Sullivan Summit attracted thousands of delegates from Africa and its Diaspora. At the State Dinner alone over one thousand people were hosted by the State at a very expensive resort. Imagine if someone among the delegate would have offered to match the amount donating the funds to a promising community venture instead of sending it all in the loo hosting people who already are ‘privileged’. Or imagine if some of the funds were used to strengthen the educational system at the tertiary level so that the intellectual future of this country is properly nurtured as is vigorously pursued by institutions like the African American institutes in their bid to promote professional training opportunities for people of African descent.

Just as I will not leave it to my President to belittle my nation, I would not leave it to the organizers and leadership of the Sullivan Summit to disrespect Africa and her people by recycling and reinventing colonial agendas and relations. I would want to know what past Summits and initiatives have achieved not just in political terms but in real terms. Also, as a citizen of Africa, before taking my relatives in I would first want to ascertain what they have to offer lest they prove to be social and economic liabilities. Likewise, I would borrow a leaf from a chapter from the African American business experience in South Africa and Ghana to inform myself of my options instead of relying on empty self-serving rhetoric as the Truth itself. I want hope not disillusionment for people of African descent.

Author: Salma Maoulidi

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Hierarchy of Priorities?


AWF's Billboard at Makuyuni village, a gateway to Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Isn't Knowledge Universal?

This is used to make a container in 'Maasailand' in Tanzania

This is used to make a container in 'Akanland' in Ghana

Is Education Bitter-Sweet?

A School Wall in Kaloleni, Arusha

Karibu kwenye ulingo wa kutafakari kuhusu tunapotoka,tulipo,tuendako na namna ambavyo tutafika huko tuendako/Welcome to a platform for reflecting on where we are coming from, where we are, where we are going and how we will get there

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