Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 takes off from small Arusha airport

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 that made an emergency landing at Arusha Airport two days ago has taken off today in a dramatic scene captured by some of the people who were at the airport.

A video posted on YouTube by Kaduguda shows the large bodied aircraft taking off hardly halfway through the 1,620m length airport. In the video a voice is heard saying in Swahili that the aircraft lifted off "...at seven hundred" indicating that the pilot used roughly 700 metres of the runway to get this large aircraft off the ground.
The emergency landing followed a failed approach at the nearby Kilimanjaro International Airport where a small aircraft had blocked part of the runway after it sustained a puncture before take off. The Ethiopian Airlines aircraft would normally have been diverted to either Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, or to Zanzibar.

Apparently, the aircraft did not have enough fuel to reach any of these three larger airports and the pilot diverted instead to the nearest but shorter airport in Arusha. News reports revealed that during the emergency landing the Boeing 767 slightly overshot the runway. No casualties were reported. The runway's length at Kilimanjaro is 3,600m.

The pilots are credited for both landing and taking off with such a large aircraft on a short runway. I believe the landing was much more difficult than the take off.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The stresses and strains of grave site selection

In Zanaki tradition if no word is left to indicate where someone wants to be buried then the selection of a grave site sometimes will pit the deceased's family in a battle of where the burial should take place.

In a recent funeral, word had reached Butiama that the grave for a relative who had died in Mwanza should be dug at his parent's home in anticipation of the funeral several days later. He was married twice and had a business in Mwanza region.

As work commenced on digging the grave a phone call from his close family pointed out that the digging should be suspended until the body arrived in Butiama because there was an unsettled debate on where the deceased should be buried. The current wife wanted him buried on his property in Butiama while his former wife was said to have wanted him to be buried in Mwanza, where she lived.

An uncle in Butiama said he saw no reason why the deceased should not be buried next to the grave of his father, instead of burying him in a municipal grave in Mwanza. The tradition of burying family members in the grounds of the family's home is still practiced among the Zanaki. Burying a family member in a municipal cemetery would appear like abandoning him and denies surviving members the practice of frequently visiting a grave to communicate with those who have gone before.

Eventually the uncle's decision was decisive and the deceased was buried at the same site that was initially pointed out. Which prompted me to ask: "Shouldn't the wife have a say in where her husband should be buried?" An elder told me that the wife becomes part of the husband's family and the decision made by the uncle, representing the father of the deceased in this case, is paramount.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Church services held to remember the late former President Nelson Mandela, 8 Dec 2013

This is a photograph from the 8th December funeral service for the late Nelson Mandela.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela, President Jacob Zuma with Cooper Weir-Smith and Abathembu Chief Mandla Mandela at the Bryanston Methodist Church as they celebrate the life of former President Nelson Mandela. (Photo: GCIS)

The late former president of South Africa will be buried today in his ancestral village Qunnu.

Related post:

Friday, 13 December 2013

South Africans mourn the death of the late former President Nelson Mandela

Members of the South African National Defence Force write their messages of sympathy in the condolence book for their former commander in chief President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at the University of the North West Mahikeng Campus Great Hall National Memorial service public viewing area. (Photo: GCIS).

Mandela died on 5th December after a long illness. He will be buried on 15th December 2013.

Related post:

Friday, 29 November 2013

Letter from Butiama: CCM at thirty

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 4th February 2007.

The political landscape has changed since then, but I believe that some of the points I raised in 2007 could still be valid today in light of the leadership battles that have recently surfaced in one of the opposition political parties. 
Tomorrow Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the ruling party turns thirty.

In those thirty years Tanzania has changed considerably. The most significant of the changes is the fact that when the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) merged with Zanzibar’s Afro Shirazi Party (ASP) to form CCM in 1977, Tanzania was a one-party state.

Today, CCM shares the political platform with several other political parties after Tanzania adopted a pluralist political system in 1992.

That after we adopted a multiparty system CCM has won three general elections suggests that it is doing something that the opposition parties cannot.

CCM members will say that their victories are a measure of the strength of their party, and the articulation of their policies to the electorate, which finds meaning with the voters. They will also say that it is a measure of the weakness of the opposition.

CCM’s results could also be explained by an event from the past. Only 20 percent of CCM members told the Nyalali Commission, which was mandated by President Mwinyi to collect the views of Tanzanians on their preferred political system, that they want a pluralist political system. CCM decided that it was significant enough to warrant adoption of a multiparty system, given the fact 56 percent of those who preferred a singly party system had some reservations about CCM’s performance.

Although skeptics always maintain that CCM’s views are not representative of the wider views of other non-CCM Tanzanians, election results seem to suggest that CCM member’s views are decisive.

I suspect that the 80 percent against and the 20 percent for pluralism ratio from the Nyalali Commission findings remains constant. Those views remain in the subconscious of voters; when they are dissatisfied with CCM they shift allegiance to the opposition, but when CCM seems to live up to their expectations, they shift back to CCM, showing their true colours – green, yellow, and black.

There is phenomenon in the soft drinks market that suggests that when a new soft drink is introduced in a market, consumers temporarily switch to the new drink, and after the novelty wears off they return to their usual drink.

I have no intention of belittling the opposition parties, but I believe that the same analogy applies to Tanzania’s political landscape. I recall the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the first multi-party elections in 1995. It looked like CCM would loose.

CCM mounted a counter campaign that included recalling to active duty some retired cadres, including Mwalimu Nyerere, and succeeded in winning the Mainland presidential elections by more than 60 percent of the vote. It also won 214 parliamentary seats compared to the opposition’s 55.

The opposition parties have never recovered from the gains registered in that first election in 1995. The leadership in the opposition parties spent a great deal of their time squabbling between themselves, the voters went back to the party they had been used to since 1977 and the voter’s political choice was limited.

The Mainland presidential elections results in 2005 saw CCM emerge the winner, capturing over 80 percent of the vote. The opposition seats in parliament were reduced to 43.

Even if the influence of Takrima, campaign hospitality, is taken into consideration, with CCM candidates usually taking the larger blame for throwing the more lavish parties, the results, in my view should not have been different. In fact, if it is generally accepted that Takrima was widely used in the recent elections then it is fair to say that it was a multi-party phenomenon. CCM candidates did not have a monopoly in their generosity to voters.

Winning elections is one thing, and probably the easier part. Transforming that victory to improving the lives of the voter is the difficult part.

In some African countries where political parties that won independence have been removed from power through the ballot box, those countries have gone through periods of turbulent politics, with the new governments, formed out of coalitions of differing political groups, turning on each other and turning the task of governing to one of infighting and of betraying the trust of their electorate.

To wish that such political turbulence should not unfold in Tanzania is to wish CCM should rule forever. It’s not an easy choice.

It would be radical to suggest, particularly in this newspaper, that it is in our national interest that the organizational and leadership capacities of opposition parties should be strengthened. But I believe it is wise to try out this suggestion.

Such a provision would be an insurance policy for the majority of Tanzania’s voters that should they decide to do away with the usual and try the new that the change will not spring up unpleasant surprises.

The only problem is how to stem the one-way traffic flow of opposition party converts to Chama cha Mapinduzi.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Students from Musoma visit Butiama

Students whose parents belong to the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church of Kamunyonge, Musoma, paid a visit to Butiama yesterday and toured both the Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere Museum and the mausoleum of the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
Butiama is a popular destination for students from around Mara and Mwanza regions as well as from Kenya and Uganda.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Opportunities for all is a fable

It was a young George W. Bush in the documentary Fahrenheit 911 who laid down the reality on the significance to overall business success of who you know in business and the relative insignificance of what you know. He said; "When you're the president's son, you've got unlimited access...In Washington DC people tend to respect that. Access is power."

It's difficult to disagree with George W. Bush in this instance.

President Jakaya Kikwete has also made statements that support this position. At least on one occasion, to justify some of his frequent foreign visits, he said his presence in the meetings he calls abroad to woo foreign investors is critical to the success of those meetings. Those who attend do so because he is there; they might not if a mere minister or the director of the Tanzania Investment Centre called the meeting.

The point is taken; most humans pursuing a particular goal prefer the shorter route to success. If that shortcut goes through hell and there is a possibility of making the return trip and achieving those goals then chances are that most reasonable people will go through hell. Preferably these goals are easily achieved by connecting with the right individuals. For the Saudis then that individual was George W. Bush. For other times and countries there are other well-connected individuals and they do not always have to be the president's offspring.

But here's the problem: there aren't many of these individuals around. And they do not connect with everyone. Which is why we should question anyone who suggests there are equal opportunities for all in Tanzania today. In recent times when the government gradually abdicated from its duty to ensure that some semblance of "opportunities for all" remained within society, the vacuum created by this abdication necessitated a new shift in political terminology.

Socialism was replaced by market-driven policies where individuals were encouraged to take advantage of opportunities that chance, favourable policies, and an enabling environment provided. The reigning slogan became, chagamkia fursa [crudely translated: grab the opportunities]. Implied in this statement was if you don't succeed it's your fault.

Both George Bush and President Kikwete know only too well that opportunities find their way to the privileged. Which is why it should not be out of the ordinary for those potential investors who attended President Kikwete's investor meetings abroad to first seek an appointment with him once they land at the Julius Nyerere International Airport so he may help them to get straight to business in as little time as possible. How many Tanzanians are able to provide those connections? A tiny fraction.

At any one time in any country there is a handful of individuals who hold the critical success factors to a particular business venture. Sometimes education might level out the playing field and serve as a means for reducing the disparity among individuals of these critical success factors. But where education could be the saviour, it has become the very factor that worsens the disparity. Members of the political and economic elite can afford a better education for their children while the poor strata of society continue to receive a substandard education that only serves to entrap them inside a cycle of poverty with little chance of moving upwards.

What does this mean? In general, it is the minority affluent well-educated "connected" class that will have the chance to take advantage of these touted opportunities while the majority poorly-educated class will remain within the clutches of poverty and destitution.

It might be fair to say that I am outlining what is true of most countries in the world, not just Tanzania. Then again it should also be fair to ask why politicians keep parroting these fables about the existence of opportunities for all.

Monday, 18 November 2013

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Kigoma Wary of Poor Harvest As Aliens Sent Back Home

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Kigoma Wary of Poor Harvest As Aliens Sent Back Home

Just back from a visit to Kagera region, I heard similar fears expressed by some of Kagera's residents. One resident said that a great majority of the expelled foreigners were employed by Tanzanians in pastoral and farming activities.

He added: "We do not do this work. We normally entrust cattle with them and we agree on sharing the benefits. They keep the milk and we retain the the cows."

He expressed similar outcomes in agricultural activity. He feared that agricultural output will fall drastically.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Deputy minister January Makamba visits Butiama

During a speech he delivered on Nyerere Day (14th October 2013) in Butiama, Deputy Minister for Communication, Science, and Technology January Makamba said he would explore steps to link the village of Butiama to the National Fibre-Optic Network.

He was responding to a request made by Emmanuel Kiondo, the director of Butiama's Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere Museum who underlined the importance of Butiama as a historical and cultural destination and having pointed out the proximity of the Fibre-Optic cable to Butiama (11 kilometres) stressed the importance of linking Butiama to broadband connectivity.
On Nyerere Day, Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology January Makamba, second from right, with Mama Maria Nyerere, first from right.
In stressing his point Kiondo spoke in his and the deputy minister's native Sambaa dialect: Uhemuonea Zumbe, nee uhemuighushi (translation: when you meet the Chief/King you greet him and tell him all your problems).

It worked; the deputy minister responded positively and said he would explore steps to ensure Butiama also benefits from the Fibre-Optic network.

When writing a weekly column for the Sunday News (Tanzania) between 2005 and 2011 I was made aware on many occasions of the importance of a reliable Internet connection. I frequently drove to Musoma, an 80-kilometre round trip to file my articles. On a few occasions I even drove to Tarime, a 200-kilometre round trip to spend a few minutes at an Internet cafe' and file the week's Letter from Butiama.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ross Methven: Ironman cyclist from Edinburgh to Cape Town

By the time he reached Butiama on 14th July 2013, Ross Methven had cycled through 12 countries and covered some 15,000 kilometres. He is on his way to Cape Town, South Africa, and I am informed he is in Botswana now.

Why? That was the first question I had in mind when I heard from Dr. Thomas Molony of Ross' epic voyage that began in Scotland in January 2013. Ross is raising money for the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF).
If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
He entered Tanzania from Kenya through the Namanga border post and rode to Arusha. From Arusha he initially planned to ride south towards Babati to Dodoma, then to Iringa and to the Malawian border. That was before I told him I would accompany him to Dodoma if he chose to ride from Butiama through Mwanza and to Dodoma through Shinyanga. He did and I serviced my mountain bike and accompanied him to Dodoma between July and August. Read about our ride to Dodoma here:

On our way to Ukerewe island, curious children gather around Ross' camera to view their photos.
While resting in Butiama I asked him a few questions:

Q: Are you normally a physically active person?
A: I played rugby a lot while in Scotland. But when I moved to work in London my lifestyle changed. I had long working hours and was not as active. When I started cycling I was pretty unfit and overweight. Experienced cyclists say it normally takes a person 2-3 months of continuous cycling to become bike fit.

Q: What has been your biggest surprise?
A: The unexpected generosity of people I come across. In Albania, people don't accept money for coffee or water.

Q: When do you expect to reach Cape Town?
A: At the end of this year, around Christmas.

Q: Give me some vital statistics of what you have done so far.
A: I have cycled 80 days until now. The longest I have cycled is 88 miles (140.8 kilometres). The coldest day was 12 Celsius, the hottest 29 Celsius. The fastest I have cycled is 48 MPH (76.8 KPH). The longest time without washing was 4 nights. I drink about 8 litres of water each day.

Ross carries all necessary items on his bicycle: tent, food, clothing, water, and spares.

Q: How much total weight do you carry?
A: When I left Edinburgh the total weight, including myself, was 150kgs. I weighed 85kgs; I now weigh 70kgs.
Near Dodoma, with his bicycle, less the 15 kilos he lost along the way.
 Q: What have been your highlights so far?
A: The small acts of kindness that I mentioned and reaching the top of a mountain. Also, the cold beer at the end of a day.

Q: Have you had a what-am-I-doing-here?* moment?
A: All the time, especially while cycling uphill. When I reach the top I get a great feeling that makes the pain and agony of uphill worthwhile.

*It is a term I use to describe my challenging moments while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Related link:

Monday, 28 October 2013

Tanzania's president should earn no more than $US 700 annually. Period.

Kigoma North legislator Zitto Kabwe’s revelation of the salaries of the president, prime minister, (and ministers?) is extremely useful in some aspects. When these top leaders donate millions of shillings at fundraising events we at least can say it is income derived from legitimate sources.

Another important aspect is the right of citizens to know how their taxes are spent. It is apparently illegal for anyone to disclose the salary of a government employee. This is an archaic piece of law and it should be scrapped immediately. Elected officials get their mandate from the citizens and it is the right of citizens to know how much their government is spending including how much its leaders are earning because the amounts apportioned to specific expenditure items is an important criteria for assessing government performance.

If Zitto Kabwe (MP) is not prosecuted for breaking the law by revealing these salaries than we can safely make one or two conclusions: that – as I have already mentioned – this provision in law is politically untenable and, two, there is something hugely wrong with paying such outrageously inflated salaries. Both two remain valid, in my opinion, even if he is eventually prosecuted.

When President Kikwete so eloquently argued against accepting the demands by striking doctors for a pay rise, he publicly declared how much the doctors were earning. I supported his arguments because I felt then that the doctors were demanding too much while other government employees earned relatively less. Had I know then that the president’s salary was more than 30 million shillings ($US 18,750) per month would it have changed my view on the doctors’ demands? No it would not, but I would have questioned the sincerity of a president who was arguing that the 7 million shillings ($US 4,375) salary per month demanded by the medics was excessive. I would have placed both the president and the medics – and now the prime minister, who Zitto Kabwe says earns 26 millions shillings ($US 16,250) a month and was actively engaged in negotiations with the striking doctors – in the same basket: elected officials who earn too much and who ought to be ashamed they earn so much in such a poor country.

And that – the shame – is the issue here. It is none of any Tanzanian’s business to know how much Tanzania’s millionaires are paying themselves every month, but any politician should be aware that it is rather difficult to justify these colossal salaries. The shame is not a personal matter that is leveled at President Jakaya Kikwete, or Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda and other excessively paid public servants (including Honourable Zitto Kabwe’s colleagues in parliament who he says earn Shs.11.2 million shillings - $US 7,000 - a month) but at the institutions they lead and the pay and perks that are associated with these public offices. When you earn that much money how can you relate to a poor mother whose son has been bitten by a rabid dog and has not been able to afford Shs.7,000/- ($US 4.4) to pay for an anti-rabies injection?

The president of the United States is paid an annual salary of $US 400,000. Ours is paid the equivalent of $US 237,500. According to the InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF) the GDP of the United States in 2012, the largest economy in the world, was $US 16,244,575 million; Tanzania’s was $US 28,247 million. Tanzania’s economy was ranked 92nd in size. If we accept that an American president’s salary is modest and use the salary as a guide relative to the size of its economy, our president should earn no more than $US 700 – in a year!

I hear a huge roar of laughter at such a suggestion, but I believe if that was, indeed, the salary of the president of Tanzania, it might produce a much smaller but rather committed number of individuals who present themselves as candidates for the presidency. We are told that all personal expenses for the president are paid by the government so no president will starve in office even with a $US 700 annual salary.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tent views at Isuna and on Mt. Kilimanjaro

There is no comparing this tent view (photo below) with the tent view near the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (the next photo, below).

I recently accompanied Ross Methven on part of the Tanzanian leg of his epic cycling trip from Edinburgh to Cape Town and although we both carried sleeping tents, we had to use them only once. On other overnight stops we slept in guest houses or hotels.

Ross is raising charitable donations for UNICEF.
If you want to donate to Ross' cause please follow this link:
At Isuna, close to Dodoma, the owner of a shop offered us a spot in front of the building housing his sunflower seed oil extraction equipment and we camped there for the night. Looking outside my tent in Isuna I saw sacks of sunflower seeds and the shops across the highway. From the tent on Mt. Kilimanjaro I had the breathtaking view of the Furtwangler glacier in front of me.

The sounds from the tent on Mt. Kilimanjaro were the wind and the gentle tremors of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano. The sounds at Isuna were the gentle rumbling of the sunflower extraction equipment which continued operating throughout the night and the sound of trucks passing along the highway.

The cold on Mt. Kilimanjaro was unbearable, at Isuna hardly felt.

Related post:

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 6 December

I was on a Dar es Salaam bound flight from Mwanza. It was the first time I had flown in a budget airline. Fastjet launched its first flight in Tanzania on 27th November 2012.
The view oustide.
The inflight menu.
The view inside.
The flight was pleasant. The only novelty to me was having to pay for drinks and snacks on the flight.

Related posts:

Monday, 23 September 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 8 November

I discovered yet another elaborate cloud formation towards the east of Butiama. Did it transform
 itself into a rain cloud? I do not remember.

Related post:

Monday, 16 September 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 9 October

During a visit to Kagera region, I arrived in Kamachumu and visited the Mshonge Museum where a traditional thatched dwelling of the Haya ethnic group has been built. The dwelling is called mshonge.
The house contains compartments including a cooking area, a living room, storage areas, and quarters for female children. The male children would sleep in the living room area.

Another post in this 2012 review series:

My version of the year 2012 in review: 29 September

At the end of my 5-day Mt. Kilimanjaro climb with more than 20 students from Mwanza's Loreto Girls' Secondary School, we were met at the Marangu Gate of Kilimanjaro National Park by one of the teachers from Loreto, Sr. Poaline Boase.
In the photo, from left to right, Nusra Alkarim, one of only two students who received a certificate for this climb who reached Gilman's Point (the other student reached Uhuru Peak), Sr. Poaline, Samson Guloba from Loreto Girls' Secondary School, and Kilimanjaro guide Hamisi Mbewa from Zara Tanzania Adventures.

Another post from this 2012 review series:

Saturday, 14 September 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 25 September

In the morning I was at the Marangu gate, at the entrance to the Marangu route for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. With me, three teachers and over twenty students of Mwanza's Loreto Girls' Secondary School at the start
of our five-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was the first time I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Marangu route, having utilised the 7-day Lemosho route for all of my previous climbs.
Later during the day, we caught a glimpse of Mawenzi peak, the lower peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro which is 5,149m above sea level.

Another post from this 2012 review series:

Letter from Butiama: Racism should not be allowed in today's society

This is one of numerous articles I wrote for the Sunday News (Tanzania) column "Letter from Butiama" between 2005 and 2011. Publication date: 21st January 2007. 
There is an on-going debate in the United Kingdom and India sparked off by offensive comments made by one participant of a reality television programme against another.

Jade Goody, a former dental nurse and currently participating in Big Brother UK, is reported to have made racist remarks against fellow contestant Shilpa Shetty, a famous actress from India.

Goody is apparently also not a very well informed person. A while ago, she thought Saddam Hussein was a boxer. So perhaps it is no accident that such an ill-informed person will make racist comments without considering the consequences of what she says.

One consequences of her foul language has been the decision by a company called Carphone Warehouse to suspend its sponsorship of Big Brother. Another company, The Perfume Shop, has decided to withdraw Goody’s perfume, “Shh..,” from its stores.

She was also sacked from her position as a spokesperson for an anti-bullying campaign, a responsibility that she clearly does not have the character to uphold.

By most standards, both the victim and the perpetrator are extremely wealthy; these are not individuals who go to bed today with worries about whether they will have a meal tomorrow. Shetty is an actress with over 30 films to her credit, while Goody has made a fortune simply from being famous after participating in an earlier episode of Big Brother.

There are far more serious problems in the world than the racist sentiments of a Big Brother contestant: the threat of Global warming to human survival, the threat of another possible confrontation between Iran and another coalition force, and the problems brought upon the world’s poor by malnutrition, incurable diseases, and unhygienic water supply.

Why should we care? It’s simple: when we allow bigoted attitudes to prevail unchallenged within society, we provide space for them to grow and we can risk allowing them to mushroom into dangerous mutations, especially when they find sympathetic supporters in politics.

It is noteworthy that British leaders, including Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, have condemned the racist remarks.

If you hear a bad record long enough, it gradually becomes acceptable. Racist remarks, heard repeatedly, can change attitudes and the attitudes can sometimes become strong convictions. When a large enough group of people adopt those convictions, it is only a step away before desperate politicians step in to represent those convictions.

The basis for racist attitudes is the belief that there is a link between a person’s inherited physical qualities and certain features of personality, intellect or culture. The ultimate conclusion of the racist mind is that some races are superior to others.

One of those minds from the 19th Century was of Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau, a French writer and diplomat. He taught the superiority of the white race over all others, advancing the hypothesis that the fate of civilisation would depend on preventing “contamination” of that race by others.

Joseph-Arthur had some admirers, one of whom was an Englishman called Houston Stewart Chamberlain who expanded his mentor’s theories and generated such a huge following in Germany that even Adolph Hitler praised Chamberlain for providing the “scientific” basis for the superiority of some races over others.

A part of Hitler’s policies were founded on the extermination of “inferior” races, and singled out the Slavs as a first step towards achieving his objectives. If successful, his extermination campaign would have moved to Africa.

In more recent times the Apartheid policy in South Africa, based on racial segregation, shut out the majority of South Africans, restricting their access to land and economic opportunities, as well as political representation, because of the colour of their skin.

So we have many good reasons to condemn what has happened to Shilpa Shetty. While condemning racism, we should also be aware that sometimes what appear outwardly to be racist attitudes can, in reality, be more a reflection of the perpetrator’s insecurity than a statement about her preferred skin colour.

The photos I have seen of Shilpa depict a beautiful woman, who has a black belt in Karate and speaks several languages.

Even with her hands tied, by looks alone, she beats Goody.

Relevant links:
Shilpa Shetty images

Friday, 13 September 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 29 August

Continuing with her research for a planned autobiography on Tanzania's founding president, Mwalimu Julius
Kambarage Nyerere (1922 - 1999), Prof. Saida Yahya Othman, right, interviewed one of Mwalimu Nyerere's brothers, Jackton Nyambereka Nyerere, left.

Another post in this 2012 review series:

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The ever changing face of Dar es Salaam

The city of Dar es Salaam is, to anyone who only visits occasionally, one huge construction site and keeps on changing by the day.

The construction of the planned Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transport system is responsible for part of this huge transformation of Dar es Salaam. The photo (below) depicts a section under construction in the Magomeni Kagera area of the city that which is a principal route of the transport system.
When completed the Dar es salaam Bus Rapid Transport project will comprise high capacity buses with their dedicated roads and thus reduce traffic congestion of the city's road.

More information on the project here.

Related posts:

My version of the year 2012 in review: 27 August

My cousin gave me an old bass guitar and I eagerly began to replace the old strings and was
looking forward to settle down and rehearse when I found out that one of the tuners was defective.

Other posts in this 2012 review series:

My version of the year 2012 in review: 25 August

At the Mwigobero fish market in Musoma I observed the new ferry that plys between Musoma and Kinesi load vehicles and passengers for its 1-hour trip across a section of Lake Victoria.

Travel by road between Kinesi and Musoma takes close to three hours.

Another post in this 2012 review series:

Related posts:

Sunday, 8 September 2013

On cycling, and the connection between strange hairstyles and the English language

I recently found myself at the beginning of a long distance cycling challenge, having talked myself into accompanying Ross Methven on his Edinburgh (Scotland) to Cape Town (South Africa) epic cycling voyage.

He is currently cycling though Tanzania and visited me at Butiama where during an evening of drinks (some of them not non-alcoholic) I gave him some route advice on how to get from Arusha (where he had left his bicycle) to Dodoma and onward to the southern Tanzanian border with Malawi as he charted the resumption of his trip to South Africa.

Before the evening was over, I (and probably with some influence from those not non-alcoholic drinks) had proposed an alternative route that began at Butiama, proceeded to Ukerewe Island, Mwanza and down on the main highway towards Dodoma and further to Iringa. I told him if he chose the alternative route, I would accompany him with my bicycle. He did and the story is still unfolding here.

Long distance cycling, I soon found out, has peculiar characteristics and considerations. First, it is a huge challenge. If riding several kilometres leisurely once a week can be a challenge for some then riding an average distance of 55 kilometres (sometimes as far as 80 kilometres in a day) would be a nightmare for most normal people.

Second, it is a mistake to ride in public with an unusual hairstyle. Several months ago, an old friend from Canada informed me that the 'afro' hairstyle has been back in vogue in Canada for some time. I had then just found a cure for my perennial dandruff problem (by eating a fresh orange every day) and was allowing my hair to grow longer. She encouraged me to "go for the 'fro'", as she put it. I did. Perhaps it could have worked in Canada, but was not the best decision ahead of cycling long distance in Tanzania. It is a huge distraction.

The fact that I am increasingly resembling Wole Soyinka does not worry me. The problem is this: with the large white rimmed sunglasses that Ross gave me when we began to ride from Butiama, most people we meet along the way assume that I am a foreigner. Ross rides ahead of me and when pedestrians see Ross and then I (with the huge white-rimmed sunglasses and a matching afro hairstyle) following behind they put one and two together and begin to address me in English.

Cycling consumes a lot of energy and after 50 kilometres of cycling, I normally try to avoid speaking to anyone in any language to conserve my energy on cycling. But, unfortunately, Tanzanians are one people who are always so eager to speak to foreigners. When in good spirits (which is rare when cycling for 80 kilometres against a head wind and trying to dodge rogue drivers who regularly force you off the tarmac) I respond to the greetings with: "Good afternoon to you." When not in a good mood I ask in Swahili: "Don't you speak Swahili?"
On the second day of cycling, with Bunda's Mt. Balili in the background.
Yesterday one of my uncles suggested that perhaps it's time I trim the hair to 'normal.' He made it sound like it was time to end the rebellion on whatever issue I had in mind.

I notice that, increasingly, when I engage people in conversation, rather than making eye contact, they look at my hair.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 6 August

I stumbled upon a beetle moving on top of the droppings of the hundreds of Hyrax that are found in Butiama. I took out my camera to take a photograph. As the beetle began to burrow into the dung pile, I realised it was a dung beetle and I ended taking the following sequence of photos.

Other posts in this 2012 review series:

Saturday, 27 July 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 4 August

I hiked from Nyamisisi to Butiama, a distance of about 15 kilometres.
The route has hills and mountains on both sides. On the far right is Mt. Mtuzu, also known as Vodacom to Butiama's residents, where the mobile phone company Vodacom has a cell site.

Other posts in this 2012 review series:

Friday, 26 July 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 23 July

In Dar es Salaam I walked past a board nailed to an electric pole advertising the ailments that "Dr." Jabali can cure. "Doctor" is a title that traditional healers freely adopt without consideration of the norms associated with using such titles.
The board lists the following: cures for chronic malaria, intestinal worms, business (I assume a cure for an ailing business), love (probably, lack thereof), education (getting to a university degree without trying), legal case (winning a case that you should have lost), as well as theft protection, protection against ill-fortune, provision of lucky rings, maintenance of wealth, and a trap for spouses (I assume a means of catching unfaithful partners, although it also sounds like a cure for taming a spouse).

Other posts in this 2012 review series:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 12 July

I began to replace the guitar tuners of an old bass guitar that I was given by my cousin.
Unfortunately, after I replaced the set and began to tighten the guitar strings but the tension from the strings broke the bridge and ended my reacquaintance with a guitar.

Other posts from this 2012 series:

My version of the year 2012 in review: 9 July

I rose early and took the Mwanza-bound bus with Dr. Thomas Molony. We dropped off at Nyamisisi and took another bus to Tarime located near the border with Kenya.

Coastal Aviation had offered Dr. Molony passage on one of its chartered flights to enable him to take aerial photographs of Mwitongo, Butiama, for his soon-to-be-released biography on Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Tanzania's founding president. The flight was from Tarime.
Dr. Thomas Molony at the Tarime airstrip with the Cessna Caravan aircraft that we boarded later.
From a speeding bus to a crowded bus (I could not get a seat and stood most of the way on the way to Tarime) and on to a chartered plane that first flew tourists to two separate tented camps located in the Serengeti National Park, we then flew over Mwitongo, Butiama, and then landed at Mwanza airport concluding a day that possessed stark contrasts.

Other posts in this 2012 review series:
Related posts:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Pedicure on the go: only in Tanzania

Tanzania is the only country I know where you can get a pedicure service while seated in a passenger bus.

A few days ago, as I sat in a daladala (commuter bus) waiting for the seats to fill up for a trip from Musoma to Butiama and while not quite minding my own business, I noticed that a fellow passenger kicked off her sandals and sought the pedicure services of an itinerant trader who not only provides a fresh look to his clients' nails but also sells ladies shoes.
He placed his stock of shoes aside and spent several minutes cleaning her nails and applying a red polish.

I have no idea how much it cost but it should have been a fraction of the most expensive pedicure.

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My version of the year 2012 in review: 30 June

I traveled to Mugumu in Serengeti District to attend the wedding of my cousin Daisy to Grayson
Nyakarungu, and later a wedding reception where I, for the second time, delivered a wedding speech for the family of the bride.

Another post in this 2012 review series:

Related posts:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 18 June

I returned home from a hike to Mt. Mtuzu and came across what appeared to me a flower-infested bush.
I do not recall that the leaves were not green as the image depicts. Perhaps I have been over zealous with tweaking the Auto Correct option on the image editor.

Other posts in this 2012 review series:

Related posts:

Scholarships from the Netherlands for International Students

Educational institutions in the Netherlands offer various scholarships for international students. Details here:


Further details on a wide range of scholarships from other countries can be found here:


Related posts:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A ride on the Kamanga ferry from Mwanza to Sengerema

For the first time yesterday, I took the. Kamanga ferry from Mwanza to Sengerema. Lake Victoria always provides some of the best scenery in northern Tanzania.

As I stood on the side enjoying the unfolding scenery that included a few rocky islets along the way, I quickly realized that Lake Victoria was also a gigantic refuse bin, all 68,800 square kilometres of it. Many passengers on the ferry threw litter into the lake, from food wrappers and food waste to empty plastic bottles.
Buses on the Kamanga ferry.
Every time I board a vessel I contemplate the likelihood it will sink and the prospects, mine particularly, of reaching the shore. On this occasion I even pre-planned the removal of my fake Timberland boots once I found myself in the water and how I would lie on my back and remain afloat and attempt to keep my mouth shut to prevent the Lake's water, which I suspect to be highly contaminated with the effluent generated by the city of Mwanza, from entering my mouth and causing me some unknown health risks.

The script reads much better than what may actually unfold when disaster strikes. I might be happy to drink my fill of contaminated lake water in exchange for reaching the shore.

The ferry takes about 25 minutes to reach its destination.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

"Freedom and Unity" by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere

This book is a collection of speeches by Tanzania's founding president Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922 - 1999) delivered between 1952 and 1965.

They span the precolonial period and the period of Tanganyika's independence struggle and the early period after Tanganyika's independence as well as the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar: Tanzania.

In the book he writes: "Whatever the size of society and whatever its institutions, the freedom and well-being of its members depends upon there being a generally accepted social ethic - a sense of what things are right, and what things are wrong, both for the institutions in relation to the members, and for the members in relation to each other."
The author sought to reveal an understanding of the basic purpose of a new administration of an emerging nation. Furthermore it is an attempt to enable the reader to acquire a "...historical understanding of the development of Tanzania and of the philosophy which it is trying to practice."

I recommend this book to some of the younger generation of Tanzanians who tend to read commentaries on Mwalimu rather than read his own words.

Monday, 8 July 2013

To save the Union the Warioba commission proposed a federal structure

Members of the Warioba Commission appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete last year to collate views on a new constitution for Tanzania accepted a daunting task, a thankless work that was guaranteed to receive criticism. The criticism was inevitable. How can you please 44 million Tanzanians at one instance?
After their appointment last year a political commentator poured out his sympathy for the difficult task that the members of this commission for having to shoulder the burden of attempting to reconcile Tanzanian's existing conflicting demands and how those demands could be reconciled in the constitutional proposals.
One sticking point that has countless offshoots is the union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika, consumated on 26th April 1964 and depending on who is speaking is either the best example of Africa's long quest for unity, or is a relentless effort by Tanganyika's leaders (Mwalimu Julius Nyerere is pointed to as the architect of this conspiracy) to deny Zanzibar and its people true unadulterated sovereignty.
To anyone who cares to listen, those voices that are crying for a Zanzibar that is free from the Union have been much louder than the voices that have defended the Union. And that, I find, is the case both in Zanzibar and on this side of the Union, Tanganyika.
Both architects of the Union, Mwalimu Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, are dead and buried. And perhaps it is good that this is the case because I do not know how they would have taken the current constitutional proposal by the Warioba Commission of a federal structure: a government for both Zanzibar and Tanganyika, and a federal government. And I suspect that members of the Commission, in drawing up their recommendations, most likely weighed on the reality that Karume had died in 1973 and Mwalimu in 1999. Pardon the cliche' but dead architects of the Union cannot speak.
Some scholars contend that Sheikh Karume said the Union was like a coat and if it did not fit one could remove it. We know that Mwalimu Nyerere advocated unity, African unity, as a matter of principle. Tanzania was a step towards a united Africa. He would have taken back the ill-fitting coat to the tailor for a readjustment.
But anyone attempting to defend the Union today in whatever form (ill-fitting or retailored) is, in my opinion, swimming against a tide of resentment from Zanzibar and, increasingly, from this side of the Union. There appears to be a genuine belief from Zanzibar that the Union is delaying Zanzibar's development.
I believe members of the Warioba Commission were placed in the front seat and obtained an accurate assessment of the prevailing views in Zanzibar. Any recommendation that was not a step backward towards true unity - which is what a federal structure is, in my opinion - would have given ample ammunition to those who say the ill-fitting coat has to be hanged in the closet or preferably thrown away. The Commission had to chip away at unity to preserve the Union.
So, ndugu, let us commend the work of the Commission on recommending a federal structure. For the sake of the continued existence of Tanzania they had no other sensible choice.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Visitors to Butiama: Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela visited the village of Butiama in November 1999. He came to pay his condolences following Mwalimu Nyerere's death in October 1999. The residents of Butiama fondly remember that visit that lasted several hours and included a lunch hosted by Mwalimu's widow, Mama Maria Nyerere.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The rehabilitation of Mwalimu Nyerere's barns continues

The rehabilitation of the barns once used by Tanzania's founding president, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere (1922 - 1999), to store his finger millet crop continues at his residence in Butiama. It is almost complete.
Mwalimu Nyerere did not only lay emphasis on agricultural policies and vigorously promoted those policies during his administration (1961 to 1985 when he voluntarily stepped down), he also was an ardent farmer.
He practised what he preached.

The weaving of these artisanal barns leaves gaps between the twigs that are sealed by cow dung. In the photo, the bags on the ground contain fresh cow dung. When complete the stored grain is completely protected from rodents and destructive insects.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

‘Africa must control its own wealth’ | MO*

During a recent visit to Belgium, I was interviewed by Gie Goris of Mondiaal Nieuws and commented on some aspects of the challenges of development confronting Tanzania and Africa in general.

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Deodorus Kamala, Tanzania's representative in Belgium and at the European Union, was also present during the interview and responded to some questions.

Here's the full interview:

‘Africa must control its own wealth’ | MO*

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Zitto Kabwe switches to creative mode

I believe the recent release of the draft constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania by Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba's Commission has inspired the following piece of creative writing by Kigoma North (CHADEMA) legislator Zitto Kabwe:

I am a Tanzanian. Of blood cleaned by fresh waters of the lakes and the rivers and the streams of my great nation. A vision from the top of mount Kilimanjaro and honesty as clear as The Serengeti savannah. Pure as virgin beaches of Zanzibar. Hopeful as a product of Azimio. Sparkling as Tanzanite stone out of the Land of Maasai.

I am a Tanzanian. Born of the peoples of Africa, of Tanzania. The Pains of the struggle of African liberation. The pains of The Revolution. Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop me from being a Tanzanian, an African. The land of Kambarage. The state of our own creation. Whatever the difficulties, Tanzania shall remain ONE, Strong and UNITED. However improbable it may sound, Tanzania shall prevail. Amongst nations of the world. We are The United Republic of Tanzania.

I am a Tanzanian.

Among the recommendations in the draft constitution is a three-tier government, a federal structure that I interpret to be one step backward from the unity that is yearned for by Hon. Zitto Kabwe.
Hon. Zitto Kabwe addresses a CHADEMA campaign rally in Musoma in October 2010.
I ask to be excused if I detect a sense of desperation. I also thought a federal structure was more in line with CHADEMA's majimbo policy. Shouldn't Hon. Zitto be more upbeat?

The only semblance of creativity that I can claim title to in recent memory was inspired by TANESCO, the national electric utility company.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Divorce in African culture

Divorce in African culture is not unheard of but was highly discouraged. It was the parents who arranged marriages and they enforced the marriage for as long as necessary.

Within the Zanaki ethnic group divorce was permitted under certain circumstances. In cases of persistent physical abuse against the wife her relatives could arrange to return the dowry paid for her marriage to the husband's parents and this action would release the wife from the marriage and she would return to her parents.

If at the time of the divorce the wife did not have children from the marriage all the dowry would be paid back to the husband/husband's parents. If she had children some cows would be deducted from the original number.
A recent ceremony in Butiama for handing over dowry cows to a bride's parents.
Adelaida Nyangeta Nyerere and Sophia Magori Nyerere, two of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere's (1922 - 1999) sisters, were divorced from their marriages under these circumstances.

Sophia Magori Nyerere was later remarried to Dr. Lawrence Gama who died in December 2009. Both of Mwalimu's sisters are now deceased.

Related posts:

Friday, 21 June 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 10 June

On the last day of my sixth Mt. Kilimanjaro climb with the members of Tanzania Development Support we hiked from Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate through the dense forest on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
On a misty morning, the canopy cover allowed only partial illumination of the forest floor by the sun's rays.

Another post in this 2012 review series:

Thursday, 20 June 2013

My version of the year 2012 in review: 9 June

I was at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, at 5,895m above mean sea level. With me, a group of climbers from Tanzania Development Support who I had joined to climb Africa's highest peak to raise money for a library and a community resource centre at Nyegina Secondary School.
At the summit: Jeannine Thurmaier and Prof. Kurt Thurmaier (Mama Anna and Baba Anna) from Tanzania Development Support take a short rest before beginning the trek back to Barafu Camp.
In a short period other climbers began to arrive at the summit. In the several occasions I have been to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro I had never seen so many climbers at the summit.
A while later, Prof. Thurmaier (left) watched as another set of climbers from the Tanzania Development Support group approached the summit.
As we descended towards Barafu Camp, our next destination, I photographed a snow-laden path with Kilimanjaro's other summit, Mawenzi, in the background. I had never seen so much snow at the summit. For a brief few days, the effects of Global Warming disappeared from sight.

Other posts in this 2012 review series: