Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Lessons from Zimbabwe

It was 29th March 2008 at the harmonized Zimbabwe elections. Someone found out where President Robert Mugabe would vote that morning and I, and a group of journalists from SADC member countries, rushed to the voting station at a primary school in one of Harare's suburbs.
Reuters/SABC News were already there
Reuters/SABC News were already there; it seems you do not get to the top of the news business by chance. The wait was long, prompting some to find space to rest.
A place to rest...
As time passed it seemed word spread around Harare on where the president would vote that morning and the crowd of reporters kept growing.
Crowd of reporters
TV Mozambique was represented, revealed by the logo on a reporters microphone.
A reporter's microphone...
And so was the Xhinhua News Agency, advertised on the back of one of the photographers.
The back of one of the reporters...
Every one lost concentration on how long we waited and some began to disperse and find other places for resting, until an old woman came out of the voting booth. Then most of the reporters pounced on her to find out which party she voted for.
Reporters pounce on the old woman...
Long after the old woman was interviewed and left the president's entourage arrived. President Mugabe arrived with his wife and children and proceeded into the voting room. As we surged towards the room behind the entourage, the entrance was blocked by serious-looking police and security personnel and we were all blocked from entering.

An individual who I gathered was the junior minister for Information appeared at the entrance and said when the time was right, he would allow photographers only to enter the voting room to photograph President Mugabe casting his vote.

Another several minutes of waiting passed and the minister announced that all those with cameras should step forward. A heavily built photographer with a huge camera powered his way in front of me and was allowed in. When I stepped ahead with my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200...
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200
 the minister blocked me and asked:
"What is this? Are you taking personal photos?"
I did some quick thinking and said:
"No. I am a columnist from the Sunday News, Tanzania and......"
I believe mentioning Tanzania saved me and he said, "OK", and waved me through. First, I took the photo of the First Lady casting her vote.
The First Lady votes...
And then I took a photograph of the president casting his vote.
President Mugabe casts his vote...
After casting his vote, President Mugabe left the building and held a brief press conference before leaving. I had learnt my lesson. If you want to impress ministers in elections you have to hold large and impressive cameras and equipment; if you don't have the impressive equipment you might try mentioning the name of a country that remains in the host country's good books.
Facing sideways, in glasses, the minister who eventually let me through

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Friday, 30 July 2010

Update: Notburga Maskini

Notburga Maskini has been elected the only candidate from Kilimanjaro Region, representing workers organizations under Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), under the special seats reserved for women members of parliament. The regional conference of CCM's women's wing, Umoja wa Wanawake wa Tanzania (UWT) elected her on 28th July by 443 of the 467 votes cast.

The number of special seat parliamentarians for each political party is determined by the total votes that each party wins in the general elections.

She is still in the running for the Rombo constituency seat that is currently held by incumbent Basil Mramba. If she wins the constituency nomination she will give up her special seat nomination.

Notburga is a member of the Kilimanjaro Club, whose members have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro either with me or whose ascent has been communicated to me.

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Notburga Maskini picks up nomination forms

Notburga Maskini who recently announced her decision to challenge former Minister for Finance Basil Mramba for the Rombo constituency parliamentary seat, recently collected nomination forms from Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to seek her party's nomination as the candidate for Rombo constituency for October's general elections.
Mwanaidi Mbisha, CCM District Secretary for Rombo hands over nomination forms to Notburga Maskini, right.
She collected the forms from the CCM party secretary for Rombo district, Mwanaidi Mbisha. Party primaries will decide the candidate for the constituency and nominees will be announced on 1st July.

Notburga is a member of the Kilmanjaro Club, whose members have climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro either with me or whose ascent has been communicated to me.

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Monday, 19 July 2010

Letter from Butiama: Surprise! Surprise!*

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 15th January 2006.

I recalled an incident recently, which occurred in the late 1980's, when I was among a group that came together to discuss the formation of the Tanzania-Mozambique Friendship Association (TAMOFA) at the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salaam.

I must have been the one person with a pen and some writing notes because, in those few meetings, I took note of the proceedings up to the day of the inaugural meeting which elected the founding members of the Executive Committee.

Those assembled went through the list of vacancies, nominating a candidate for each. I was taken by complete surprise when the late Col. Andrew Shija stood up and nominated me TAMOFA's treasurer. I was caught totally unprepared and managed to only say, "Oooh!" And with that historic pronouncement I was unanimously elected TAMOFA's founding treasurer.

Going into the meeting, the only definite outcome I was looking forward to was that I would be one of the card carrying members of TAMOFA. To walk out with a title was a lot more than I expected. I can describe myself as having passed through an initial shock, in a small way, and later recovered to issue that historic remark.

When President Kikwete unveiled his new cabinet to Tanzania on 4th January and after naming Hon. Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru his minister for Politics and Social Relations, he revealed that Hon. Kingunge was hearing that appointment for the first time, together with the rest of the world.

If I had been subjected to such an announcement and given the significance of the announcement I would have said "Ooooooooooh!" That high a responsibility would leave many lost for words. It does not matter whether a ministeral post is highly coveted, or whether it can be considered an immense civic responsibility. Hearing of a ministerial appointment 'live' is a potentially life-threatening experience for those with weak hearts. I recently met someone who was present in 1992 when the late Horace Kolimba was nominated by then party Chairman Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi and then elected by the General Congress of Chama cha Mapinduzi as its secretary general, apparently without having prior knowledge of the Chairman's intentions. Kolimba is reported to have become totally disoriented, and seemed to have attempted to sit down and stand up at the same time.

Given the number of new appointments in this cabinet, I imagine a lot of "Ooooooooooh's" or similar remarks were made on 4th January, not only from those who were appointed but more so for members of the public. Next to the World Cup, cabinet announcements rank high among events that attract a large audience in front of television and radio sets. People seem to be interested in not only who is in, but also of who is out.

Since Hon. John Momose Cheyo first used the word "out" to announce, a few years ago, the expulsion of some members of his political party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), from office, the word has been widely used by the media to describe all forms and manner of setbacks that have struck political figures.

Today "out" can mean anything from being fired from a job, to losing an election. In fact "in" and "out" was a convenient way to report the results of the just-ended parliamentary elections, particularly for the vibrant network of authors of text messages who spend time to report on every major event that gets coverage from the national press. President Kikwete's announcement also got some underground coverage.

On 4th January my handset was host for a while to a text message with the following details, "Chiligati in, Dr. Asharose out." In this case "in" referred to Hon. John Chiligati's Ministry of Home Affairs which is normally referred to as ndani, Kiswahili for "in", while "out" was referring to Hon. Dr. Asharose Migiro's Ministry for International Affairs and International Co-operation which is normally known as Nje, Kiswahili for "foreign" but also meaning "out", as was originally used by Hon. Cheyo, who is now "in" as Bariadi's member of parliament.

I am reliably informed that the message ended up in Dr. Asharose Migiro's handset, but thanks to a congestion of the airwaves, the message reached her hours after President Kikwete's cabinet announcement.

*First published on 15th January, 2006.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Testing the Law

Once, when it took me too long to submit a law assignment for a law course I was taking, I toyed with the idea of applying some of the rules I learnt in the course in an attempt to beat the deadline, technically speaking.

In the instructions to students it was clearly stated that the assignment was to reach the instructor's desk on or before the deadline. With only a few days to go and without enough time to mail the assignment (emailed assignments were not accepted then), I decided I would apply the 'posting rule'.

In the law of contract a communication item is deemed to have been accepted by the recipient after it is 'received' by the receiver. Generally, this means that it is only when the receiver 'sees' the intended communication that the information is deemed in law to have been received. The 'posting rule' introduces an exception and the receiver is deemed to have received the communication as soon as the sender posts the actual letter containing the relevant information.

My idea was to claim to have submitted the assignment as soon as I posted it at Musoma thus, in law, beating the deadline. I then decided that the professors would not share my idea of a humorous diversion from the deadline.

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Friday, 16 July 2010

Banda Samba Brazil, live in Dar es Salaam today

A concert involving Brazilian and Mozambican artistes will be held today at Makumusho Village, Kijitonyama from 2000hrs.

Entrance is free.

The concert is jointly sponsored by the Brazilian Embassy in Tanzania and Maisha Music.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Visitors to Butiama: Ayoub 'Rasta' Laizer

Ayoub Laizer (on my left in the photograph, below) has not cut his hair since his early years in primary school. He works at IBRD's Musoma office and recently visited me at Butiama.

I mentioned to him the fact that I had toyed with the idea, a long time ago, of growing my hair just as long but decided against it because I thought of the negative reception I would receive, aware that society has preconceived notions of what they see in individuals with dreadlocks.

I retold an incident involving Mwalimu Julius Nyerere during Zimbabwe's independence anniversary celebrations where the late Bob Marley performed a concert at Harare's Rufaro Stadium as part of those celebrations in April 1980. Before the concert, Bob Marley was asked to shake hands with all the dignitaries present, including Mwalimu Nyerere who, I was told, had little enthusiasm for the reggae star. That was before Marley strapped on his guitar and played.

What was concealed by his image was laid bare by his lyrics. When Mwalimu Nyerere heard Marley's powerful lyrics on African unity and his prevalent message against oppression, Mwalimu Nyerere is said to have become so enthralled by the artist that he almost stood up to dance. And we know he was not an outstanding dancer. Marley's lyrics struck a chord with Mwalimu's Pan Africanist ideals and Mwalimu's concept of human dignity and justice.